God is not Irritable

“Attributes of Love” Series Introduction:  1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love”, and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 lists the attributes of love. So in this series, we’re going to discuss each of the attributes in those verses, one by one, to learn more about the nature of God.


Exodus 34:6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…”

This comes from one of the few times we know of where God showed himself to someone. God is proclaiming His presence to Moses, telling who He is, and He says He is “slow to anger”. It’s one of His defining traits.

Irritability is the opposite of being “slow to anger”. While being irritable might seem like being only “a little angry”, it is still angry – and man, is it quick. You’re irritable and on edge, but you’re holding it together so that nobody knows, and then – bam! Something happens, and you lose your cool. You say something snide, or you bite someone’s head off, or you slam your book on the table. Maybe you say bad words. Maybe you say things you don’t mean and will regret later. You didn’t stop to think about it. It wasn’t a reasoned response to a serious event. You were just….irritated, irritable…perhaps hangry?

James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

So, clearly we need to avoid irritability to be good Christians, acting within the righteousness of God. How do we fight off irritability? Well, first and foremost is to continue to grow closer to God.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

If the spirit God gives us is one of self-control, then it is not one that acts out of irritability. So, the more we lean into knowing God and becoming who we are in Him, the less we’ll struggle with being irritable.

This comes with some practical side effects as well. You see, irritability happens when things aren’t going our way, or when we aren’t able to achieve something we think we need to achieve. As we grow closer to God, we get to know who we are in Christ, and also who we are not. Then we can identify the priorities we should and shouldn’t have, the things we should and shouldn’t be doing, and what we do and do not need to worry about. We also stop trying to please other people. When we focus in on what God wants for us, we eliminate extraneous pressures from our lives, and have less to be irritable about.  The things that do remain, we can trust God to handle for us, as long as we keep our focus on him.

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