OceanSide church of Christ
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Victor M. Eskew
We have been studying the quality of longsuffering in two previous articles. We have looked at the definition of longsuffering. We have seen that it is a divine quality, that is, a quality that God possesses. We have also looked at some examples of those who either did or did not exhibit longsuffering toward others.
Let’s now consider two houses that stand in need of longsuffering. One of these is our physical house. In the home, the wife is commanded to submit to her husband. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” (Col. 3:18). To obey this command will involve longsuffering on the part of the wife. She will have to be longsuffering in her husband’s ignorance and foolishness. She will have to be longsuffering in his selfishness and immaturity. She will have to manifest great patience when he displays his “know-it-all” attitude.
On the other hand, the husband has been commanded to love his wife. “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (Col. 3:19). This will require the manifestation of longsuffering by the husband. He will have to be longsuffering through his wife’s emotional outbursts. He will have to be patient with her constant criticism and nagging. He will have to suffer long when she seeks to have more authority in the home than God has given to her. He will have to be very patient in those times that he just cannot understand how she is thinking and why she is reacting the way she is.
In many homes, there are children. Paul commanded them saying: “Children, obey your parents, in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” (Col. 3:20). Sometimes, children will have to be longsuffering toward their parents. They will have to bear with the “crazy” decisions their parents make that impact their lives. They will have to be tolerant with their parents when they see the inconsistencies between what the parent says and how the parent lives.
Parents will also have to display a great deal of longsuffering toward their children. They will have to put up with the immaturity and ignorance of their children. They will have to suffer through their mistakes and shortcomings. They will have to be patient when their children are disrespectful and display their two year old behaviors in their teenage bodies. Parents cannot wash their hands of their children when the going gets tough. Paul commanded fathers, saying: “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Col. 3:21).
The second home that needs longsuffering is the house of the Lord. In Ephesians 4:2, Paul wrote these words to the saints in Ephesus: “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” Members will have to be longsuffering toward their leaders when they make decisions in matter of options with which they disagree. The faithful will have to bear with the young, growing Christians who have not reach maturity. Leaders will have to be longsuffering toward the know-it-alls who do so little. All members will have to be tolerant of members who have difficult personalities. It is easy for teachers to become inpatient with students who fail to comprehend various points of an issue. Sometimes, we have to suffer long with those who are fighting against sin. How many times have leaders and members needed the quality of longsuffering toward members who seem to always be in need of assistance?
Longsuffering is not just a nice quality to possess. It is a quality that is to be put in practice. It has to be applied in times of difficulty and stress. It has to be displayed when other people are not so loveable. It has to be shown when we have been hurt. It must be demonstrated time and time again. It has to be practiced when our emotions are screaming for revenge. Longsuffering is a quality that is lived when one does not desire to engage it.
Some might ask: “How do we develop the quality of longsuffering?” We know that it must be practiced, but we have a hard time with this trait. We are quick tempered. We open our mouths too fast. We seek revenge. We just cannot take wrongs. When this seems to be our practice, what do we do to live the fruit of the Spirit called longsuffering? The following is a list of things that each one of us can to that will help us to become a people who are longsuffering toward others.
1. Remember God is longsuffering to me.
2. Realize that I cannot control others.
3. Seek to understand where others are coming from.
4. Expect excellence from others, but not perfection.
5. Accept that I can control myself.
6. Diligently control your anger.
7. Conquer the sin in your life.
8. Remedy your imperfections and weaknesses.
9. Always be aware of your emotions.
10. Accept that you will make mistakes.
11. Practice a “slow-down” offence for your life.
12. Re-evaluate and adjust your goals.
13. Trust that God is working in your life.
Anyone of these things can ignite our anger and cause us to be short-tempered if they are practiced. Dear reader, God wants us to possess longsuffering. He has instilled within us the ability to be like He is, and, He is one who is not soon angry.
Some people try to use the excuse that they were born with a short-fuse. They try to justify their lack of longsuffering by saying they inherited their temperament from their parents. These excuses nullify the transforming power of the Word of God in our lives. Each of us is taught to put on the virtue of longsuffering. “Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, longsuffering.” Don’t dodge the issues. Don’t try to make excuses. Work on this quality. It will make us more like God. It will improve our relationships with others. In addition our lives will be filled with more peace and tranquility.