“Strength is born in the deep silence of long-suffering hearts, not amid joy” wrote the 19th century British poet Felecia Hemans.
One of the challenges of our 21st century culture is immediate gratification. We are an impatient people. We want what we want. And we want it now! Qualities of forbearance, perseverance and patience are not often lauded as desirable. Instead we seek pleasure. Possessions. And personal satisfaction. However, our true strength is not found in these fleeting fancies.
Our word of the week is “longsuffering.”
Dr. Thayer says longsuffering is “forbearance, slowness in avenging wrongs.” It literally means “long tempered.” It has to do with fortitude. Endurance. And restraint. Most modern Bible translations render the word as “patience.”
Paul wrote that the fruit of the spirit is not only love, joy and peace, but longsuffering. (Gal. 5:23). In the letter to the Colossians the apostle spoke of the character of the new man, one who is clothed in Christ. His exhortation involved longsuffering.
The Old Testament often speaks of Jehovah as being “merciful, gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness” (Ex. 34:6). All of these are qualities that should be reflected in one who desires to be godly.
When we have developed the character trait of longsuffering we can accept disappointment graciously. Remain steadfast under pressure. And stay calm because we know that God is in control.
Why is Longsuffering so Difficult?
(1) It Goes Against Human Nature. We are born impatient. When a baby wakes up and is wet or hungry, it doesn’t think, I’ll wait until morning and not bother mom!
We’re kinda like the little 4-year-old boy who was traveling with his mother & constantly asking again and again” “When are we going to get there? Finally, the mother got so irritated that she said, “We still have 90 more miles to go. So don’t ask me again when we’re going to get there.” The boy was silent for a long time. Then he timidly asked, “Mom, will I still be four when we get there?”
(2) It is contrary to our culture. We live on the fast track. We live in a world of fast food. One hour printing. Express lunches. Microwaves. Instant internet communication. Like the kids’ commercial advertising the cell phone says, “fast is better.” I even heard of one church in Florida that advertizes 22 minute services!
(3) We have even elevated impatience to a virtue! We admire the type A business person. Hard charging people. Choleric personalities. You hear it said, “Well I may be impatient but I get things done.
However, God calls us to patience The wise man wrote “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly” (Prov. 14:9).
HOW DO WE DEVELOP LONGSUFFERING?
(1) Abide in Christ (Jn. 15:5). He is our perfect example. In his work. In dealing with difficult people. In training the apostles. In suffering. Being more Christ-like will produce longsuffering.
(2) Growing in Love. The great love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love suffers long.” The more we love, the greater we love, the deeper we love, the more patient we become. Got a problem being longsuffering with people? Just love ‘em more!
(3) Prayer. In Colossians 1:9-11 Paul prayed for several things, including longsuffering. Want patience? Pray! Just don’t be like the fellow who prayed, “Lord give me more patience….and right now!”
(4) Slow down. Take a break! Even God rested on the Sabbath from his work of creation! Jesus often took time out of his hectic schedule to go the Mountains, or the sea-shore, and just get away from the crowds.
(5) Wait on the Lord. The Psalmist said, “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, wait, I say, on the Lord! ( Ps. 27:14).
Make “longsuffering” more than the “word of the week! Or Ken’s Monday message. Make it a lifestyle. And take to heart Paul’s exhortation.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Col 3:12-14, NKJV)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman