In the well known list of the fruit of the Spirit (in Galatians 5:22-23), sandwiched between those pleasant fruits of peace and kindness, is the overlooked fruit called longsuffering. What is this fruit? What does longsuffering mean exactly? Surely it must have a nicer definition in Greek.
Longsuffering means suffering for a long time. This does not sound very appealing. ButÂ many things in this life (provocations and afflictions) require long-term suffering,Â discipline, and patience. And what better encouragement can there be for us than to know that God has a special fruit that is dispensed by His Holy Spirit that enables us feeble creatures to hang in there for the long haul.
Many people have griefs and injuries, chronic pain and ailments that require longsuffering. Old age suffers long. But notice in both these passages, longsuffering is surrounded with kindness: “Love suffers long and is kind” (I Cor. 13:4) and from Galatians, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness…”
When we are called to an extended time of suffering, patience works itself out in kindness. And kindness always looks out for others. So when we are suffering for a long time, we do well to turn our eyes to the needs of others. Longsuffering has a good companion in kindness. Kindness points us away from our own troubles and gets us to minister to others. And kindness always has a gang of friends along: joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness, and the rest of them. And that is good company.