A: Definition and description of Long Suffering
- In Greek, this word combines the roots makro, meaning “long,” and thumos, meaning “temper,” so it literally means “to be long-tempered.
- Webster’s dictionary defines longsuffering as “the capacity to endure hardship, difficulty, or inconvenience without complaint” and “calmness, self-control, and the willingness or ability to tolerate delay.”
- Longsuffering is simply the quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation.
A person who is longsuffering is not quick to retaliate or promptly punish someone who has insulted, offended or harmed him. The opposite of anger, it is intimately associated with mercy. Longsuffering is an attribute of God and thus a fruit of His Holy Spirit. This fruit directs our attention to our relationship with others and how we should behave and react towards others in a spirit-filled way?
B: Examples of Long Suffering
1. Longsuffering of God towards man: Exo 34:6; Num14:18 & 27; Psalm 86:15; Jer 15:15.
a. He was in the days of Noah (He waited patiently for 120 years) – 1Pet 3:20
b. He was in His dealings with the nation of Israel – Neh 9:16-21
c. And He is longsuffering today as well – 2Pet 3:7-9
The purpose of His longsuffering: Luke 18:7; Rom 2:4; II Peter 3:9 &15.
a. That we might have salvation! – 2Pet 3:15; Matt 17:17; I Tim 1:16
b. That we might be led to repentance! – Rom 2:4
c. That those who fear Him and keep His commandments might delight in His loving kindness, even though they have sinned. Ps 103:8-18.
2. The longsuffering of David. Saul had made several attempts to kill David.
a. David had several opportunities to kill Saul – 1Sa 24:1-22; 1Sa 26:1-25
b. David demonstrated the true meaning of longsuffering: “slowness in avenging wrongs”
C. The Necessity of Longsuffering
- For God to be longsuffering to us. As Jesus illustrated in “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” (note Mt 18:32-35); Col 3:12-13; Joel 2:13; Rom 9:22-24.
a. Christ has forgiven us, therefore we must be longsuffering and willing to forgive one another!
- To Maintain the Unity of the Spirit
a. A task we face, in keeping with a walk that is worthy of our calling – Eph 4:1-3
b. Without longsuffering, the sins we commit against one another will quickly destroy the unity for which Christ died! – Col 3:12-13; Eph 4:1-3; I Thess 5:14; II Tim 3:10-11; 4:2.
- To prepare Preachers and Teachers of the Gospel
a. As Paul charged Timothy – 2Ti 4:2
b. As Paul had demonstrated by example – 2Ti 3:10
c. No servant of the Lord can faithfully correct those in opposition, without the quality of long suffering – 2Ti 2:24-26; 2Ti 22; Col 1:9-11.
D. Developing Longsuffering
- Through love…
a. It is love that “suffers long” – 1Cor 13:4-8a
Unless we love those who have wronged us, there will not be sufficient motivation to bear with them.
b. By growing in love (1Thess 4:9; 1John 3:16), we will grow in patience!
- Through prayer…
a. Paul evidently believed prayer would help the Colossians to have “all patience and Long suffering with joy” – Col 1:9-11
b. Certainly the God who is longsuffering (Ps 145:8) will strengthen those who desire to be like Him!
1. God has certainly revealed Himself to be longsuffering, as David wrote in his psalm:
“But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.” – Ps 86:15
2. For those who desire to be truly His children, and led by His Spirit, they will want to become like Him, as David wrote just a few verses before:
“Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;” – Ps 86:11a
May the Lord help us to be longsuffering with those around us! May we also be careful to respond to the Lord’s longsuffering toward us in the proper way. Romans 2:4-6.