THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – LONGSUFFERING

INTRODUCTION

In discussing “the fruit of the Spirit” – the nine graces listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are often divided into three groups:

  1. The first group contains those graces which turns one’s thought toward God…
    • Love (for love is of God)
    • Joy (for we rejoice in the Lord)
    • Peace (for from God comes the peace that surpasses understanding)
  2. The second group contains those graces that directs our attention to our fellowman…
    • Longsuffering
    • Kindness
    • Goodness
  3. The third group of graces refer more directly to oneself…
    • a Faithfulness
    • Gentleness (meekness)
    • Self-control

Having examined those graces in the first group (love, joy, peace), we now come to the first one in the second group – the graces that direct our attention to our fellowman – the first is…

  1. The grace is longsuffering (“patience” in the NAS; ESV)
  2. The Greek word is mak-ro-thu-mia (makrothumia)
    • Literally, it means being “long-tempered” (the opposite of short-tempered)
    • It is defined as “patience, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs” – Thayer
  3. “Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish. It is the opposite of anger and is associated with mercy, and is used of God.” – Vine

If God is longsuffering, we should not be surprised that those who are “walking in the Spirit” will also be longsuffering!

As we begin to understand longsuffering, let us begin by looking at some… 

DISCUSSION

EXAMPLES OF LONGSUFFERING

  1. The longsuffering of God
    • God has been longsuffering toward man
      • God was longsuffering in the days of Noah… 1 Peter 3:20
      • God was longsuffering in His dealings with the nation of Israel… Nehemiah 9:16-21
      • And God is longsuffering today as well
      • 2 Peter 3:7-9
      • 1 Timothy 1:15-16
    • What is the purpose of God’s longsuffering?
      • That we might have salvation! … 2 Peter 3:15
      • That we might be led to repentance! … Romans 2:4
      • God is longsuffering so those who fear Him and keep His commandments might delight in His lovingkindness, even though they have sinned…
      • Psalm 103:8-18
      • A beautiful description of the longsuffering of God
  2. The longsuffering of David
    • Is best seen in his dealings with King Saul
      • Saul had made several attempts to kill David
      • David had several opportunities to kill Saul
      • In the cave… 1 Samuel 24:1-22
      • In the camp… 1 Samuel 26:1-25
    • Out of respect for the Lord’s anointed king (Saul), David demonstrated the true meaning of longsuffering: “slowness in avenging wrongs”
  3. So from both God Himself, and one who was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam 13:14), we learn what the quality of longsuffering involves.
  4. Now let’s consider its necessity in the life of the Christian…

THE NECESSITY OF LONGSUFFERING

  1. We need to be longsuffering if we wish God to be longsuffering with us…
    • As Jesus illustrated this in “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” (note particularly Matthew 18:32-35)
    • Compare also the following verses: Colossians 3:12-13
    • Christ has forgiven us
    • Therefore, we must be longsuffering and willing to forgive one another!
  2. We need to be longsuffering if we wish to maintain the unity of the Spirit…
    • A task we face, in keeping with a walk that is worthy of our calling… Ephesians 4:1-3
    • Without longsuffering, the sins we commit against one another will quickly destroy the unity for which Christ died!
  3. Longsuffering is necessary for preachers and teachers of the gospel…
  4. Paul charged Timothy to be longsuffering… 2 Timothy 4:2
    • Paul demonstrated longsuffering, and Timothy followed his example… 2 Timothy 3:10
    • No servant of the Lord can faithfully correct those in opposition, without the quality of longsuffering (patience in the NKJ) … 2 Timothy 2:24-26 
  5. So to be “useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (cf. 2 Tim. 2:21), and even to ensure God’s longsuffering toward us (cf. Mt. 18:35), we need to develop the virtue of longsuffering. Here are a couple of thoughts on how…

DEVELOPING LONGSUFFERING

  1. Through love…
    • It is love that suffers long” … 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
    • Unless we love those who have wronged us, there will not be sufficient motivation to bear with them – to be longsuffering
    • Therefore love (active good will) is fundamental to being slow to avenge wrong, and therefore longsuffering
  2. We develop longsuffering by growing in love…
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:9 … we are taught in the Scriptures to love
    • 1 John 3:16 … love must be seen in action
    • Therefore, if we will learn what the Scriptures teach us about love and put what we have learned into practice we will grow in longsuffering!
  3. We can also develop longsuffering through prayer…
    • Colossians 1:9-11 – Paul evidently believed prayer would help the Colossians to have “all patience and longsuffering with joy
    • God who is longsuffering
    • Psalm 145:8
    • If we will rely on God He will strengthen those who desire to be like Him!

CONCLUSION

  1. God has certainly revealed Himself to be longsuffering, as David wrote in his psalm… Psalm 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… Psalm 86:11
  3. The way of the Lord is truly one involving longsuffering, and it will be a quality evident in the lives of those who bear the fruit of the Spirit!
  4. 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
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About from the Preachers PC

Gospel Preacher for the Park Heights church of Christ in Hamilton, TX. I stand for and defend the truth of God's word. All other degrees and diplomas mean very little in comparison.
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