Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law”
As we continue to explore the nine manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit we must of necessity stop over and consider the role of longsuffering and what it embodies in the experience and character development of the Spirit filled believer. Most people I know would rather not want to have anything to do with this non-flamboyant and non ecstatic fruit of the Spirit. For one can readily feel the taste of this fruit. It is bitter!
However, we cannot achieve the character of Christ without experiencing His suffering. The bible was very clear when it spoke about the fellowship of His sufferings which is one of the privileges some apostles of old felt privileged to bear. Philipians 3:19. We cannot know the power of His might without experiencing the fellowship of His suffering as scripture reveals.
Afterall, what does it mean to be a Christian? To be molded in the image of a man who was betrayed, despised, spat on, abused and abandoned in His most trying moments. He was killed when he did nothing wrong. What we go through is only a fraction of what he felt.
The bible says that the “Lord is longsuffering”….Numbers 14:18. Therefore the fruit of longsuffering is worth our consideration as a result of this.
Longsuffering can be defined as the supernatural grace to endure prolonged hardships and or cope with the weaknesses in the character of others. It is the ability to survive the imposing nature of difficult people’s personality without succumbing to anger, hatred, strife or the need for retaliation.
It is patient endurance in the face of provocation. It is the ability to withstand ill-treatment, ill-will and persecution with no thought for retaliation. Simply put longsuffering means “suffering that seems to last forever”. If you are like most people I know, longsuffering is most likely not one of your favourite fruit of the of the Spirit yet, God says longsuffering is a part of His character, a part of His image and a part of His nature. Therefore it’s something He wants us all to learn
WHAT LONGSUFFERING IS NOT
It is not the suffering that results from wrong choices; it is not the suffering that results from wrong decisions and wrong doings which we make (which is probably the cause of a large percentage of Christian suffering). Long suffering is the suffering that life imposes on us and it is designed to build character. Often time we may need to evaluate our challenges to find the true nature of it so that we do not label self induced pain to mean that we are suffering long.
AT THE HEART OF LIFE CHALLENGES
At the heart of life’s challenges you find two collaborators against our happiness- people and problems. The fruit of longsuffering is our Spirit given and inbred antidote to neutralize the negative impact of these collaborators.
Sometimes in our lives we experience overwhelming troubles and contradictions that just won’t go away. The challenges we face at such times are pregnant with questions such as: how does one refrain from being angry, bitter and blaming God in situations like this? How does one get to the point where one never lets go, never give in and never give up? How does one keep from becoming dismayed, discouraged and depressed especially when people seem to be uncooperative at work, at home or even in church or when things just refuse to get better?
How does one avoid the feeling of being perplexed? Psychiatrists tell us that grief of mind is often harder to bear than physical pain. Paul expresses it perfectly in 2 Corinthians 1:8 when he says that he “…despaired of life itself.”
The biblical answer to these boggling questions my friend is learning long suffering.
OUR HOPE OUR ANCHOR
As Christians, hope in God, His Word and His promises are the anchors of our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) It’s imperative that we have complete confidence that the Lord will do all that He promises in His Word.
THE END OF LONGSUFFERING IS ESTABLISHMENT
Suffering is only for a while and in the end you get perfected, established, strengthened and settled. I have been there and I can tell you that God is faithful.
Yes, Longsuffering hurts, but be of good cheer. You will laugh last!
For further Study
Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 34:19, 1Peter 5:10
Personal declaration for the day
I will not give up hope. I will wait unil my change will come.
Questions for you to reflect on
How long do you intend to hold on to God’s promises?
How would you handle negative people and situation?