Theologians categorize the attributes of God into two categories. The categories are communicable and incommunicable. Communicable attributes are those which God has passed on to humans. These are the ways we demonstrate that we are made in Gods image.
This morning, I read this verse in Psalm 86:
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”Psalm 86:15, ESV
David, the author of this psalm, lists five attributes of God:
- Slow to anger
- Abounding in steadfast love
- Abounding in faithfulness
These are all attributes that are communicable; we can imitate God in all five items on this list.
We can choose to be merciful to the people in our lives regardless of whether they deserve that mercy.
We can demonstrate grace to those who definitely don’t deserve it. I am reminded of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount about turning the other cheek and going the second mile.
We can choose to be slow to anger. Certainly there are things that happen around us about which we should be angry. We should be rightly angry when injustice is done to those who cannot protect themselves.
But am I quick to become angry about those little irritations that come at me? Am I quick to become angry because I have been inconvenienced in some way? By refusing to let the small things make me angry I can imitate God.
We can choose to practice love. The love in question is unconditional love that looks out for the best interest of the object of that love. It’s not an emotion as much as an action. It is a choice to do the right thing for someone else.
We can choose to practice faithfulness by being faithful to those to whom we have made commitments. In the whole story of the Old Testament, God was faithful to Israel even when they were in open rebellion. God has been faithful to humanity by providing a Savior in Jesus Christ, even when we as a group were in open rebellion against him.
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, ESV)Romans 5:8, ESV
Every moment of every day, we can chose to imitate God in these attributes. Like exercising our bodies to increase our skill, speed and strength to complete an activity, we can also exercise our minds to increase our ability to practice these attributes.
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