“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering…” (Galatians 5:22).
What is longsuffering? Here’s what the dictionary says: continuing in spite of difficulties or obstacles, refusing to give up, remaining steadfast in purpose, bearing injuries, insults, or troubles patiently for a long, long time. (In other words, suffering for a long time.) It is similar to patience: the ability to endure without complaint, bearing suffering, provocation, delay, or tediousness with calmness and self-control, refusing to be provoked or angered, as by an insult.
What kinds of things require patience, endurance, or longsuffering? Difficulties, obstacles, injuries, insults, troubles, suffering, provocation, delay, and tediousness. That about sums it up, don’t you think? And the thought of suffering through so much seems impossible. Well, it is. Christianity is the right religion for all of us, because we need a Savior. In Christ we can find patience, but apart from Him we will all just blow a fuse with so much provocation in this world.
Let’s consider a few of these common stumbling blocks which call for patience and longsuffering.
1. Difficulties come in many varieties. They can be family difficulties, or relate to a job, schoolwork, or a barking dog in the neighborhood. Married women have difficulties; unmarried women have them too.
2. Obstacles are things that prevent or hinder you. They may be hard to get around or over or through. They could be physcial handicaps, schedules, finances,high prices of gas, or car problems.
3. Injuries are when you are hurt because someone has harmed,offended, or wronged you.
4. Insults injure our pride or hurt our feelings. Insults can come from a stranger on the street, a letter to the editor, or it could be from someone near and dear.
5. Troubles are, according to Ecclesiastes, what man is born to.
6. Suffering includes pain, loss, grief,or damage.
7. Provocation covers just about everything that is annoying.
8. Delays of all kinds can be provoking, whether it is a canceled flight, a traffic delay, a late guest, a long wait in the dentist office, a vacation post-poned.
9. Tediousness is when something is dull, boring, long, slow or tiresome.
So I think we would all agree that we need patience pretty much around the clock.Though we can see the need we have on a human level, it is quite a different thing to think that God is longsuffering toward us. He needs ongoing patience toward us. Does this mean that we provoke God? Well, just think about it for a minute.
Psalm 86:15 “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”
1 Timothy 1:16 “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”
2 Peter 3:14-15 “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvationâ€”as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you.”
God is longsuffering toward those who will receive His judgment. 1 Peter 3:20 “who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being preparedâ€¦”
He is the source of patience and longsuffering. We look to Him for our supply. Romans 15:5 “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Scriptures are given to us for patience. Romans 15:4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
We are to wait patiently for the Lord to work. Psalm 37:7 “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”
2 Thessalonians 3:5 “Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.”
We are to imitate older saints in persevering in trials. 2 Timothy 3:10-11 “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra â€“ what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.”
We are to be longsuffering in affliction. Romans 12:10-12 “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayerâ€¦”
Patience produces more fruit. James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”Romans 5:3-4 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.”
We are to be longsuffering toward one another. Ephesians 4:1-3 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all”.
We are to produce fruit with patience. Luke 8:15 “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”
We are to be longsuffering with joy. Colossians 1:10-11 “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.”
We are to be patient in hope. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.”
Prayer requires perseverance. Ephesians 6:18 “â€¦praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
We are to be diligent in pursuing patience. 2 Peter 1:5-8 “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Timothy 6:11 “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”