Today I’m getting back on track with our study on the fruit of the Spirit.
We’ve come to the fourth one, which is longsuffering. I really don’t like the words long and suffering put together. If I got to choose, I’d prefer a word like “shortsuffering!”
Over Christmas break, my older daughter and husband had the stomach flu. As I “nursed” them, I was very interested in noting how long they were actually ill. Was it running 12 hours, 24, or more?
Thankfully for both of them, it was only about 12 hours of actually being sick to their stomach. In case I came down with it, I wanted to know exactly how long it would last. I felt like I could make it through if I just knew when it would end! (And thankfully, our younger daughter and I never caught it!)
Obviously that’s not exactly what it means when we talk about longsuffering in a Biblical sense. According to this site, the word longsuffering is made up of two Greek words that literally mean “long tempered.” I also like the dictionary definition which says, “having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people.” So basically it’s having a long fuse instead of a short one.
As with all of the fruit we’ve examined, God sets the example. He is the epitome of longsuffering. How thankful we should be that Exodus 34:6 describes Him as “…The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.”
God is not impatient with me. Psalm 86:15 says, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” In my flesh, I sin and give Him so many reasons to give up on me. Yet He continues to extend grace, mercy, and compassion toward me.
So if I want to become more like Jesus, I need to be longsuffering. I once heard someone say that longsuffering relates to how you deal with people, while patience is how you deal with things or circumstances. The verses below definitely deal with how we’re to be longsuffering toward others. In fact, we’re commanded to act that way.
“With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;” ~Ephesians 4:2
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” “ ~Colossians 3:12
Do you see a similarity between these verses? What word is close to the word “longsuffering” both times? Mmhmm…it’s meekness. It seems to be tied in with longsuffering.
Perhaps I’m more longsuffering when I see my own weaknesses clearly. When I’m not prideful or worried about defending my own rights, it’s easier to be longsuffering. Putting others ahead of myself leads me to be tolerant and forgiving. (Ouch, stepping on my own toes here!!) But meekness is another fruit of the Spirit that we’ll get to later!
As wives and mothers, the opportunities to be longsuffering within our families arise almost daily. Sure, there are moments when I feel justified over losing my temper or showing my frustration. But that’s now how God is. When I think about how God is so longsuffering with me, I have no excuse to be irritated or provoked.
As we go through our day, may we yield to the Holy Spirit in those moments of irritation, and allow Him to produce longsuffering in us!