The term “longsuffering” has gone out of fashion for the most part. The two best known Scriptural references, which mention the principle—Galatians 5:22, as the 4th Fruit of the Spirit; and I Corinthians 13:4, “Charity suffereth long,” employ the word “Patience” or “is patient” in the newer translations.
And while Patience is a perfectly acceptable substitution, “longsuffering,” in the author’s opinion, is a weightier term.
In fact, the Latin root, suff— means “to bear.”
In an earlier post, The Problem of Anger, I suggested Anger is a sin, which is often the root cause of other sins.
In the same manner, it can be argued Longsuffering is the linchpin which holds together the other fruits of the Spirit.
In other words, if one possesses the trait of longsuffering, a willingness to “suffer long,” or be patient:
He can continue to love, though that love is not reciprocated.
She can continue to have joy, deeming it a privilege to bear all things for Jesus’ sake.
He can continue to have peace, knowing he is walking in Jesus’ steps, pleasing God.
She can continue to be gentle with the person wounding her.
He can continue to be good with a heart free from the stain of resentment and desire for revenge.
She can continue to have faith, committing herself to God’s will and care.
He can continue to be meek, having chosen to bear reproach for Christ’s sake.
She can continue to be temperate [possess self-control], having cast off her “right” to fair treatment.
Longsuffering is a blessed attribute of God.
Numbers 14:18. The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression,
Psalms 86:15. But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
Longsuffering is recommended for the believer.
Ephesians 4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Colossians 1:11. Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
2 Peter 3:15. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
When we choose to “bear the weight” of what appears to be an unreachable person, an impossible situation, an intolerable encumbrance, we become a living illustration of the great love and inexhaustible patience God has with us.
If you are going to take up a burden and carry it, you must strengthen yourself for the task, build yourself up, increase your endurance.
We often think we are being broken down by a certain circumstance, when, in reality, the bearing of it builds our spiritual fitness, strengthens our flabby spiritual muscles.
By exercising our will to love, for example, we increase our capacity to love.
How many mothers have marveled at their immense love for their first child, and wondered if they could possibly love a second child in the same way, only to find each additional child does not lessen their store of love, but increases it exponentially.
The act of loving strengthens your capacity.
But you can only strengthen yourself if you are eating the proper food.
Feast daily on the Word of God
The day should not dawn without your being determined habitually to open the Bible and feast on the bread of life…not a crumb, nor a crust, but thick, hefty portions.
As one poet said: [We] “treat the crown of writings as we do no other book, just a paragraph disjointed, just a rude impatient look.”
Employ whatever reading plan you wish, but be in the Word every day.
When I was a college student, I realized I had never read through the Bible, the Guide by which I intended to pattern my life.
I read through the Bible my sophomore year and having been reading through, cover to cover, every year since.
Simple: turn to the last page of your Bible, note the number of pages, divide by 365 and read that number of pages every day.
Some days you will be deeply moved and inspired. Some days you will simply be reading history or chronologies or genealogies or lists of laws. It matters not. Keep reading. How often do you eat a meal, simply for the purposes of sustenance, and not really savor it? When one meal is not as good as another, do you stop eating altogether, because one experience was not phenomenal?
Pray Without Ceasing
“We may be assured of this—the secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer,” said the anonymous author of The Kneeling Christian.
Resort every day to the privilege of prayer. Bring your concerns to God.
Be honest with Him. Do not try to impress Him with your erudition.
That burden you’re trying to bear…the one that seems to have no resolution, no solution, “Cast thy burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain you.”
He who “suffered long” for us, can enable us to do the same. He knows the way.
Prayer gains audience with heaven in the dead of night, in the midst of business, in the heat of noonday, in the shades of evening. In every condition, your covenant God will welcome your prayer and answer it from His holy place. Wherever there is a heart big with sorrow, or a lip quivering with agony, or a deep groan, or a penitential sigh, the heart of God is open. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up. Charles Spurgeon
The fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering.