After love, joy and peace, comes longsuffering, sometimes translated “patience.” In the Greek, this one is makrothumia. I honestly feel that this is one of the things most lacking in our current culture. In an age of fast food, instant communication, self checkout lanes, rapid transit, etc… patience is becoming more and more scarce. Commuters lack patience, children lack patience, parents lack patience… and I can vouch that people in line at Wal-Mart lack patience, especially during the holidays.
One of the ideas communicated with the Greek, and even in the English, is a slowness to avenge wrongs. When I’m typing up these articles, I’m always preaching to myself too, and doing the research for this one has left me realizing I may need to be praying for a bit more patience. Of course, that means God will set up circumstances in which to be patient, and He even does the work of nudging me toward a longsuffering attitude… it will be my “job” to yield to that prompting, which is easier said than done. Having said that, it is again, a fruit of the Spirit, so it is entirely possible with Him.
I see patience and love as being intimately connected. If we love others, we won’t respond in anger so harshly so quickly. And, further, we are told that we have the perfect model of longsuffing in the Saviour Himself;
1 Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
Think about Jesus’ response to all of the questioning, doubting, mocking, etc… He was ever patient. He did not merely take anything thrown at Him, but was calm and capable in His responses. Here’s an interesting proposition; try patience and see what happens. Next time you are in line, and someone is hurrying trying not to be a bother, or the cashier is rushing and apologizing, smile, say some encouraging words. Try it in public, every now and again I get looked at like I’m an alien, which in a way I guess I am, as are all believers.
One thing I hope you, my dear readers, are picking up on by now, is that the fruit of the Spirit as we have discussed thus far; love, joy, peace, and longsuffering are also descriptors of God’s character or traits He possessed especially exemplified in Jesus, which makes logical sense. This is one of the great blessings of being a believer; we get God working on us to conform us to the image of His Son. I want to underscore, this is His work in us, not our own, that is the way fruit works…