We continue looking at the fruit of longsuffering today. Of the 17 times the english word longsuffering is used in the Bible, 10 of them are relating to the quality of longsuffering in God Himself. The remaining 7 are challenges to us. It is one of those challenges we will look at today.
As a Christian, I have the Holy Spirit living in me. God dwells inside of me! That should make a difference.
One of the differences is should make is the influence of the Holy Spirit on my life and actions.
One of the greatest benefits, here on earth, of being a believer, is the benefit of the being part of a local assembly of Christians. It should be the greatest of all experiences. Imagine being a part of a group of people wholly given over to God and in complete submission to the Holy Spirit! Imagine the joy in that congregation! Imagine the love for one anther!
Imagining is all you can do, because there is no such congregation. Why? Because churches are made up of sinful men, not least of which is me. While we should be surrendered to the Holy Spirit at all times, that is not the reality of what actually happens.
No, sometimes there is friction. Sometimes there is disagreement. Sometimes there is controversy.
This is where longsuffering comes in. So we have this challenge from the Apostle Paul:
Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Now, there are actually several other fruits of the Spirit listed here. Isn’t that interesting? It is almost like God intended that the fruit of the Spirit would be a well-balanced produce department in our lives. Like maybe they all have a purpose; both individually and together.
Well, Paul is begging the Ephesian believers to behave like Christians should. He knows that a hinderance to this is the interpersonal conflict. So he gives the key. Part of the that key is longsuffering.
Now, a couple of things are necessary for longsuffering to happen.
- You have to love the person. Isn’t that why God is longsuffering with us? 1 Corinthians 13 says “Charity suffereth long, and is kind.” Love is not bitter. Love doesn’t have a martyr’s complex. We have already seen how the fruit of the Spirit is love toward other believers. That should help us put up with them when they need it; and it should help them put up with us!
- You have to work at it! Do you see the word endeavouring in the above text? That is effort. Suffering long takes effort. Having patience with a difficult person or situation takes work. I fear too often we do not endeavor to be longsuffering. If it is hard, we don’t want to do it. However, dear reader, if it is not hard, it is not longsuffering.
How quickly do we through relationships away because of the hard work they take? God, through the Holy Spirit, has given us the key to those relationships! He demonstrated it, and continues to do so in His dealings with us! If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. If God is so longsuffering with us, then we can afford to be longsuffering with others. Let’s meditate on that today. Is there someone in your life toward whom you are guilty of a lack of longsuffering?
Heavenly Father, I don’t alway like difficult people. Yet, Lord, you know how quick I am to overlook my own faults while focusing on the faults of others. You have been so longsuffering with me. Please, let me show that same spirit toward others today, whether they are saved or lost. Help me, by your Holy Spirit, to walk with a spirit of longsuffering, with love. In Jesus name, amen.