June 13, 2010

Longsuffering – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

In last week’s article we discussed the unity we should endeavor to keep in the church as described by the seven ones of Ephesians Chapter 4: one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. (Ephesians 4:4-5) We also noted what Paul wrote to the Ephesians about unity. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

The word “longsuffering” is an interesting one and is akin to “patience.” However, longsuffering carries with it the notion of self-restraint even when provoked. Certainly man with his sinful behavior has provoked God over the ages. Yet God has been shown to be longsuffering. The psalmist wrote of God, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” (Psalms 86:15-16) To be longsuffering is to be merciful and is the opposite of anger. I am thankful that God is longsuffering. The reason he is longsuffering  is clearly stated in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 

God’s unwillingness for any to perish shows another of the notions contained in “longsuffering,” and that is not hastily retaliating or punishing. We know that the time will come when God will take his vengeance on them that do not know him or who will not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:8). But until that times comes, he remains longsuffering.

Jesus was longsuffering to Paul. “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; … This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 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.” (1 Timothy 1;12, 15-16) Paul pointed out that no matter how sinful a man may think himself to be or has actually been, mercy and everlasting life is available to all who will believe in Jesus. If we believe in Jesus, we will love him. If we love him, we will keep his commandments. (John 14:15).

Paul followed the pattern and was longsuffering toward others. Writing to Timothy he said, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” (2 Timothy 3:10-12 )

Let us also be longsuffering and follow the pattern. It was pointed out last week that we should be longsuffering toward each other, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit  The fruits of the Spirit are love, peace, joy, longsuffering, faith, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and temperance. (Galatians 5:22-23). We are instructed that whatsoever things are honorable, just, pure, lovely and good, to think or meditate on those things. (Philippians 4:8) We should all think about the ways we can be long suffering toward each other. Amen.

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