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LONGSUFFERING

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.   The words “quick-tempered,“ “short-fused,” and “explosive anger” should not characterize the child of God.  In other words, we should not be dry kegs of power looking for a match.

 

B.   In contrast, we are to be “long to anger.”  In fact, this is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 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.

 

C.   The fruit for our study this evening is “longsuffering.”

 

I.             THE DEFINITION OF LONGSUFFERING

 

A.   The Greek word for “longsuffering” is makrothymia.

1.   Makro means “long, large, big, grand” and thymia means “temper, anger, rage”

2.   This is where the definition “long to anger” comes from.

a.    It is the idea of holding in check large quantities of emotion, such as anger and frustration.

b.   It points to the idea of anger taking a long time to build before it is expressed.  If and when it is expressed, it is under control.

 

B.   The word is also translated “patient” in the KJV (Matt. 18:26, 29; Acts 26:3; I Thess. 5:14; Heb. 6:12, 15; James 5:7, 10).

 

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

 

1.   Here, the definition is steadfastness under strain.

2.   It is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial.

 

C.   Some other definitions:

1.   Forbear (Col. 3:13)

2.   Slow to anger (Num. 14:18; Ps. 86:15)

3.   Self-restrained in the face of provocation

4.   A certain degree of tolerance for the intolerable

 

II.           LONGSUFFERING IS AN ATTRIBUTE OF GOD

 

A.   The proof that He is longsuffering.

1.   Exodus 34:6

 

And the Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.

 

2.   II Peter 3:9

 

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

 

3.   See also Numbers 14:18; Ps. 86:15; Rom. 2:4, II Peter 3:15

 

B.   Another way to say the Lord is longsuffering is by saying that He is “slow to anger” (Neh. 9:17; Ps. 103:8; Ps. 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nah. 1:3).

 

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

 

C.   Two examples of the Lord’s longsuffering.

1.   In the days of Noah, God was longsuffering with sinful humanity (I Pet. 3:20).

 

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

 

2.   While Jesus was suffering on the cross, He exhibited both components of longsuffering.

a.    He was long-tempered toward his opponents (I Pet. 1:22-23).

 

Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.

 

b.   In like manner, He remained steadfast under strain.  He hung upon the cross until all was finished (John 19:30).

 

 

 

 

III.         LONGSUFFERING ILLUSTRATED

 

A.   Let’s look at examples of Bible characters who were involved in actions that are the opposite of longsuffering..

1.   David’s aggression against Nabal (I Sam. 25).

a.    David’s men had protected Nabal’s sheep.

b.   When shearing time came, David sent men to get some form of payment for their efforts.

c.    Nabal refused to give them anything.

d.   David immediately gathered his men to go and slay Nabal and his house (I Sam. 25:13).

 

And David said unto him men, Gird ye on every man his sword.  And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword:  and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.

 

2.   James and John desired for fire to be sent down from heaven upon the Samaritans because they would not receive the Christ (John 9:54).

 

And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

 

3.   The Corinthians were not longsuffering with each other.  They took one another to law (I Cor. 6:6-7).

 

But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.  Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law with one another.  Why do ye not rather take wrong?  Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

 

4.   These examples are a lot like us at times.  We fire back with our tongues, seek vengeance against another, and withhold our love and kindness from others.

 

B.   An example of longsuffering is seen in the young David who had fled from the jealous king Saul.

1.   Twice Saul tried to take David’s life.

2.   For several years he tracked David through the wilderness like an animal in an attempt to slay him.

3.   On two occasions David had the opportunity to destroy his enemy.  Both times he refused to kill the Lord’s anointed (I Sam. 24:6; 26:9).

 

And he said unto his men, the Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.

 

IV.         TWO HOUSES THAT NEED LONGSUFFERING

 

A.   Our physical houses stand in need of longsuffering (Col. 3:18-21).

1.   Wives (v. 18)

 

Wives, submit yourselves unto you own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

 

a.    Be longsuffering in your husband’s ignorance and foolishness.

b.   Be patient with his selfishness and immaturity.

c.    Be longsuffering toward his “know-it-all” attitudes.

2.   Husbands (v. 19)

 

Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

 

a.    Suffer through their emotional outbursts.

b.   Be slow to anger over their constant criticism and nagging.

c.    Be longsuffering when they seek to be the authority over the home.

3.   Children (v. 20)

 

Child, obey your parents, in all things:  for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

 

a.    Bear with the “crazy” decisions that your parents make on your behalf.

b.   Be patient with the inconsistencies between what is said and what is done.

4.   Parents, especially fathers (v. 21)

 

Father, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

 

a.    Put up with your child’s immaturity and ignorance.

b.   Suffer through their mistakes and shortcomings.

c.    Don’t wash your hands of them when the going gets tough.

 

B.   The Lord’s house needs the practice of longsuffering.

1.   Ephesians 4:2

 

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.

 

 

 

2.   Places longsuffering is needed:

a.    Toward leaders’ decisions in matters of option.

b.   Toward growing Christians who are not perfect.

c.    Toward the know-it-alls who do so little.

d.   Toward those with difficult personalities.

e.    Toward those who are studying but don’t understand all the points of an issue.

f.     Toward those who are seeking to be freed from the bondage of sin.

g.    Toward the needy who seek assistance.

 

V.           WAYS TO DEVELOP THE QUALITY OF LONGSUFFERING

 

A.   Remember God is longsuffering with me.

 

B.   Realize I cannot control others.

 

C.   Seek to understand where others are coming from.

 

D.  Expect excellence, but not perfection.

 

E.   Understand that I can control myself.

 

F.   Diligently control your anger.

 

G.  Conquer the sin in your life.

 

H.  Remedy your imperfections and weaknesses.

 

I.     Always be aware of your emotions.

 

J.   Accept that you will make mistakes.

 

K.   Practice a “slow-down offence” for your life.

 

L.   Re-evaluate and adjust your goals.

 

M.  Trust God is working in your life.

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.   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 that they inherited their temperament from their parents.

 

B.   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 (Col. 3:12).

 

Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.