The Fruits of the Spirit: Longsuffering

December 2010

Galatians 5:22- "The Fruit of the Spirit is Longsuffering…"

This fruit of the Spirit is definitely one that I myself, struggle with a lot, and I know that many of us do struggle with it. Longsuffering, or in other words, Patience. This biblical word, Longsuffering means forbearance or the act of forbearing. When I looked forbearing up in the dictionary it had the meaning of refraining from something, patient endurance and self control. As I read those definitions, the Holy Spirit was automatically "teaching" me, and reminding me of a great truth.

Everyday we deal with people. Many times these people that we deal with inflict pain upon us and hurt us with actions, and words. This hurt and pain can come in many different packages. It could be in something someone may say to you as in an insult or an accusation. It could be in a conflict between you and another person, maybe an argument or disagreement. It could even have been in a physical altercation. I know for myself that when someone says something I don’t like or something that offends me, it’s very easy for me to become angry! My flesh wants me to lash out at that person. And yes sometimes, my flesh does get in the way! It causes me to say things or do something that only makes the situation worse. Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft answer turns away wrath, and grievous words stir up anger."

This is why we are to practice patience, and longsuffering. (Eph. 4:1-3) We are to refrain or withhold from lashing out at someone and becoming angry. I’m learning that these fruits of the Spirits are not always easy to practice. What do fruit do? It grows. Fruit doesn’t just grow over night. It’s a process. When fruit is not used it rots! It begins to stink! Our fruit must be sweet, and harvested just to the right point in our lives, that the LORD can gather it and put it in His beautiful, "fruit basket," ready to be used for His honor and glory.

We must not only practice patience with people but also in trying situations that we go through. Sometimes we go through things in life that we don’t understand, and we get angry because it was an interruption in life at least in our eyes (not in Gods though, all things happen for a purpose with him (Romans 8:28), and we complain and grumble. But patience is not grumbling and complaining and getting angry, it’s the exact opposite. That thing that you are to "refrain from" is the complaining. The patient endurance is going through a tough situation such as pain, unhappiness, etc WITHOUT COMPLAINT.

When we are patient and longsuffering we are beginning to take on the attributes of God. God was and is very patient with mankind. He is the absolute best example of longsuffering, in the way He deals with mankind. Thank God He deals with us through the window of GRACE! He is slow to anger and patient and longsuffering (Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:15). Instead of destroying us when we sin, he is patient and merciful to forgive us! He wants us all to come to the knowledge of what his Son did for us at the cross of Calvary, giving HIS life for our sins. He wants us all to believe in him and have everlasting life and not die separated from God forever in hell forever. He’s withholding from coming again, to extend our opportunity to receive Christ, that more people may be saved (2 Peter 3:9).

So you may ask what am I suppose to do when I get hurt or go through a tough situation that I don’t like?

Here’s what one author described patience as. "A time to do nothing." When your in the heat of a situation, when you’ve been hurt or wronged by someone, patience does nothing. It doesn’t lash out and say things that will only hurt that person back. It doesn’t do something that would only make the situation worse. Instead it does nothing at all. It just walks away. This author also said that in this time to do nothing, it gives something to do and that is PRAY! Instead of yelling, and saying hateful things or doing someone else wrong or hurt them, we should PRAY for that person. (Matt 5:44) PRAY for that situation and PRAY that God will give you HIS patience (and you know what he will!)

As Christians, it is never our job to react and take our anger out on someone when they have hurt us or wronged us. God is the Judge. It is God’s place to settle things. It is our job to reconcile ourselves towards one another. (Matt 5) We should give the situation, the hurt, and all the pain to him. Let him take matters in HIS hands and take control. The bible says in Romans 12:19, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Patience is the man that could revenge yet chooses NOT to.

Patience withholds from taking revenge out on someone and instantly retaliating but instead it endures (and that’s without complaining).

None of us can have this patience on our own. We can not make this patience happen on our strength. Our human flesh wants to jump out and yell and scream and have its way when someone does us wrong or says hurtful things. But we CAN do ALL things THROUGH CHRIST (Phil 4:13)!!!! "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4) "Ye are more than conquers through the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 8:37) We can overcome our flesh and win the victory because God is on our side and it is through his strength and HIS ability, not ours!

To have patience we must stay in his word and surround our hearts and minds with verses like the ones above. We must stay on our knees and pray for the patients, and longsuffering! Beg God to give us HIS patience. And when we’ve prayed, we must train ourselves to restrain our anger. Remember, its not going to come overnight! It takes PRACTICE! And lastly look to Jesus’ example, of how patient he was with all he went through in this earthly life. Jesus suffered the most hurt and pain that any human being could ever imagine. Yet he was patient and never retaliated in anger or with complaining. He with stood it all. (1 Peter 2:22-23).

I encourage you today, that when something doesn’t go your way, and you are faced with a situation or person that caused you hurt and pain don’t retaliate. Take the moment to decide whether or not to let your flesh get the victory or let God! You can have patience my dear friend! Just look to Jesus and Our longsuffering Lord!

I pray this devotion was a huge help to you. It taught me something personally about my own anger and temper sometimes. God bless you as you practice to have a life lived as Christ. I pray that God will give you His fruits of the Spirit…Especially Patience!

Isaiah 26:3-4
Emily Sampson

Sampson Sisters with Youth man Tony Nolan at Parkway Baptist in Fort Olgethorpe, GA