THE FRUITS OF THE
Thus far have dealt with the first three fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy
and Peace. In this article we will deal with the fourth:
Are we longsuffering? Are we longsuffering with people who intentionally
What about people who intentionally test us? Are we long suffering
toward people who hate us and want to harm us, and do at times
harm us? Are we longsuffering in times of heavy trials? If so, how
longsuffering are we? How long are we willing to bear intentional,
premeditated harm?How fast do we get discouraged when trials come our
way? Tough question?
Longsuffering is not a natural quality. It does not come easy. It is, in
fact, for most a hard quality to possess. But let’s therefore define
"Longsuffering" to make sure we understand its true meaning.
What is Longsuffering?
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words gives us the
(Noun): forbearance, patience, longsuffering.
(Verb) To be patient, longsuffering, to bear with, to
be long tempered.
then proceeds to add an interesting note:
“Longsuffering is that quality of
self-restraint in the face of provocation, which does not
retaliate or promptly
it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy, and is
used of God.
It is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb
under trial; It is the opposite of despondency and is
associated with hope."
Vine’s note is so exhaustive and so enlightening that I decided to base
on each of of the above points.
let’s look at each point in detail.
The first point made by Vine is,
is that quality of “self-restraint” in the face of provocation,
which does not retaliate or promptly punish."
Let’s break down this statement in detail.
is the quality of self –restraint in the face of provocation."
Since longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit, Longsuffering is not a
manifestation of our own self restraint. It is a manifestation of
God-given self-restraint. You and I by nature would not want to
self-restrain, especially when provoked. When provoked, or offended,
the carnal mind wants to react, not to control itself. Our egos may be
severely punctured. We may be confronted with an insensitive,
calloused, downright evil person who intentionally may be trying
to rob us, take advantage of us, humiliate us, or do the same to people
we care for and love. Human beings would not naturally simply sit back
and take it.
does not retaliate."
speaking, there are ample reasons to justify retaliation in many
situations. For instance, if cruelty is involved; If premeditation is
involved; If callousness is involved; If we are rewarded with evil,
after having done someone much good. Yet, in spite of the above, "with
God’s help" we refuse to retaliate.
Vine goes on,
does not promptly punish."
We may be in a position of authority. We may have the power to punish
the guilty immediately—but we do not. The power to deliver swift
justice is in our hands. Yet we do not punish promptly -- as others
God is the perfect example of self-restraint. He has set the example for
us to follow on many occasions.
Let’s look at some examples when God would have been justified to
intervene hastily and powerfully, but did not.
I Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the
unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh
but made alive by the Spirit,…when
once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah,
while the ark
was being prepared…
We are told that before the flood there was nothing wholesome left about
humanity. The Scriptures tell us that every thought of man had
become distorted. For this extent of degeneracy to occur, it took
centuries. Yet God waited and waited and, rest assured, the
people were warned, but in vain. Finally the Flood.
What about Sodom and Gomorrah?
In Genesis 18: 20, we read that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were
Again, it takes a very long time for a society to reach the level of
depravity reached by those two cities. He even sent angels to get a
first hand look at the situation. The verdict was unavoidable. The
cancer was terminal and it had to be eradicated.
Sodom and Gomorrah had become the nest of virulent, evil viruses that
were spreading quickly through the area and onto other cities. Evil has
a way of spreading far and wide, when left unchecked. The two cities had
to be dealt with, not only because their evil deeds could no longer be
tolerated by the God of righteousness, but also to prevent
their debauchery from spreading far and wide. Yet God waited until
they had reached the place of no return.
What about the rest of the Canaanites?
In Genesis 15:16, God tells Abraham that the Promised Land would have
been given to His descendents, but that they would have had to wait.
the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin
of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."
four hundred years would have passed before the Amorites would have
reached the same level of depravity as the Sodomites. God would have
waited with longsuffering all that time.
about Israel? Did God Show self-restraint with Israel? II Kings 17 gives
an exhaustive list of the sins embraced by Israel which led to its
deserved exile. The chapter also details God’s many attempts at bringing
Israel to sobriety before Hid final verdict. The list of Israel’s sins
is quite extensive and very grievous.
The people forgot that God had delivered them from Egyptian slavery and
“feared other gods” (V.7). They walked in the way of the nations that
had been cast out of Canaan (V. 8). They built high places and burned
incense to idols (V. 11-12). Because of their rebellious attitude, God
warned Israel and Judah “by all His prophets (V. 13), but they
did not repent and, instead, “stiffened their necks” (V. 14). In
spite of all the many warnings, “They rejected His statutes and His
Covenant…they left all the commandments” and “made for
themselves a molten image and two calves, made a wooden image and
worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal” (V.15-16). Lastly,
they “caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire
(Sacrificed their children to other gods), practiced witchcraft and
soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to
provoke Him to anger” (V. 17).
Thus, the final judgment:
“You shall be plucked off from the land” (Deuteronomy 28: 63).
God had made a covenant with Israel centuries before and had promised to
pour great blessings on them, if they obeyed, and great curses if they
disobeyed. The curses are listed in Deuteronomy 28 in increasing
severity. Israel did not heed the many warnings and was finally
eradicated from the land, as God had promised centuries
before. Throughout their degeneration, God waited, and warned and waited
things different with Judah? No one can deny that God waited patiently
for Judah to also repent from their deterioration— but they did not. God
sent His prophets to warn Judah, but without success. The prophet
Zephaniah describes the rebellious spirit of the people of Jerusalem
and of Judah, by extension.
Zephaniah 3:1-2 “Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the
oppressing city! She has not obeyed His voice, she has
not received correction; She has not trusted in the Lord; she has
not drawn near to her God.
Thus, God waited and hoped in vain, and the result of their obstinacy
was disastrous. Finally, they, too, were sent into captivity.
WHAT ABOUT JESUS CHRIST?
DID HE SHOW SELF-RESTRAINT?
Let’s look at an example in Matthew 26:50-53.
(The soldiers are about to
arrest him and Judah is about to approach Him).50And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came
they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him. 51And, behold, one of them
which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and
struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. 52Then
said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they
that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53Thinkest thou that I
cannot now pray to my Father, and
he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels.
Jesus Christ could have sent legions of angels; that is thousands of
angels, but he chose to use self-restraint instead.
Jesus was provoked on many occasions, and all the way to the cross. He
could have pulverized all his enemies but did not. That was
GOD shows great amounts of self-restraint toward us all.
Every day, some of us provoke Him; sometimes we too may have deserved to
be pulverised --but He did not.
I Timothy 1: 15-16 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all
acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of
whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that
in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering (SELF-RESTRAINT),
as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting
Paul was a religious fanatic. He would have done well with Al Qaeda. He
hated non-believers and did his best to have them killed. When it came
to the Christians of his days he was a kind of Bin Laden. He was
fanatical and brutal.
He deserved the same kind of medicine he dished out to others. Christ
instead showed longsuffering.
God and Jesus Christ’s longsuffering is the reason why we have been
Our works did not deserve mercy. Their longsuffering led to our
II Peter 3: 15 ...and
consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is
The book of Romans is more specific.
Romans 2 :3
And think you this, O man, that judge them which do such things, and do
the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you despise
the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not
knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
God and Jesus Christ, therefore, have set for us a grand example of
self-restraint, and they insist that the future members of His
family do the same.
THE SECOND MAJOR POINT MADE BY VINE IS THAT "LONGSUFFERING IS THE
OPPOSITE OF ANGER."
Anger is reactive; anger is vengeful; anger demands swift retaliation.
Longsuffering does not.
God is slow to anger.
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the
compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love
The natural mind, instead, tends to be quick to anger. Let’s look at one
such example: King Saul.
The story tells us that in the following situation David intentionally
did not appear before Saul knowing that he would have been in danger.
Saul, who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to David, asked
his son Jonathan as to David`s whereabouts.
1 Samuel 20:28-34
So Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked permission of
me to go to Bethlehem. 29 And he said, ‘Please let me
go, for our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has
commanded me to be there. And now, ifI have found favor in your
eyes, please let me get away and see my brothers.’
Therefore he has not come to the king’s table.” 30 Then
Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son
of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have
chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your
mother’s nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives
on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now
therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32
And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why should he
be killed? What has he done?” 33 Then Saul cast a spear at
him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by
his father to kill David. 34 So Jonathan arose from the table
in fierce anger, and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was
grieved for David, because his father had treated him shamefully.
David, instead, was not as impetuous.
Saul made several attempts to kill David. David had several
opportunities to kill Saul, such as in the cave - 1Samuel 24:1-22 and in
the camp -
but he did not kill Him.
David was inspired by a different spirit.
What about some of Christ’s disciples, before their conversion?
Luke 9:52-55 And (Jesus) sent messengers before his face: and they went,
and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And
they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to
Jerusalem. 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? But he turned, and rebuked them, and
said, You know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
THE NEXT POINT MADE BY VINE IS
"Patience is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or
succumbs under trial."
Longsuffering manifests itself in trials as well. It does not surrender
circumstances. And, especially, it does not surrender in times of
Rev. 2:8 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, These things
says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but
you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say
they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed,
the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you
may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be
faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
The members of the Smyrna church manifested longsuffering, even during
very difficult times, and God knew they would have continued being
longsuffering during the great trials that would have followed.
If we are "longsuffering,`` we will have the strength and patience and
endurance to go on when normally we would say, ``No more!``
VINE’S NEXT POINT IS THAT
"LONGSUFFERING is the opposite of despondency
and is associated with hope."
Longsuffering has no space for discouragement in tough times. It does
not allow despondency or severe discouragement to overpower us. It is
always hopeful; it is always sure that God is in charge and that He
knows what He is doing, and that all things will work out for our
best. The Apostle
Paul understood this all too well.
2 Corinthians 11:22-27 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they
Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are
they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant,
in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25
Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in
perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—
Paul went through a back-breaking set of trials -- Yet he did not
How could Paul ever handle all of that? Did he endure because of his
astounding strength? No it was not! It was Christ in Him that helped
him to endure. God gave him the necessary longsuffering to tackle all
those backbreaking trials. As he wrote, “I can do all things through
Christ who strengthens me.” I can handle any and all trials through
Christ who strengthens me.
Thus longsuffering is a critical trait. It is an integral part of God’s
it must become an integral part of ours.
Having ended our close analysis of Vine’s definition of Longsuffering
ourselves' why is it critical that longsuffering abound in the church?
Paul gives us the answer:
Ephesians 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to
walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2
with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one
another in love, 3 endeavouring to keep the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace.God showed the totality of longsuffering
toward us: patience, mercy,
forgiveness. He expects, he demands, that we do the same with others.
Colossians 3:12-13 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and
beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness,
longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and
forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even
as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
Therefore, we too must be longsuffering and be willing to forgive one
HOW DO WE DEVELOP THIS KIND OF LONGSUFFERING?
Some people have patient personalities by nature. Some people come from
families and or churches where patience was taught as a virtue. That is
trait we are talking about.
Longsuffering, is somewhat similar but also very different.
we are talking about is a fruit of the spirit. As we have seen,
itself in patience, but also in mercy, forgiveness, and in facing and
enduring trials with courage and perseverance.
It is one of the great manifestations of Agape; that is, God`s spiritual
Let’s go back to I Corinthians 13:4-8.
Love suffers long and is
love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked,
thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices
in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,
This is the love chapter. Notice how many times longsuffering appears
in its various manifestations. Notice that it is covered from all
Love is patient and kind, it is not easily provoked, bears all things,
endures all things.
MAKROTHUMIA suffers long with kindness, it is not easily provoked to
anger, it does not wish to get revenge, and it endures suffering and
How can we accomplish all this?
God in us through Agape!
Paul knew the source of this gift. He knew that insisting on Christians
longsuffering is not enough.
Thus he asked God to fill the Colossian church with longsuffering.
Colossians 1:9-11 For this reason we also, since the day we
heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you
may be filled with
the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and
spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the
Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and
increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with
all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and
God is very longsuffering. That is one of His traits. His Spirit in us
gives us that same quality that emanates from God.
But for it to be the real thing
it must be from God.
By reading the scriptures we are instructed on how God is and how we
Through prayer, study and fasting we are gradually infused with the
fruits of the
Spirit and, over the years, if we persevere, we will become more and
more like God, and we will abound more and more in His
2 Corinthians 6: 1 We then, as workers together with him, we
beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 3Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
4But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God,
in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings,
6By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering,
by kindnes, by the Holy Ghost….
How was Paul able to bear all the persecutions and suffering and
necessities? By the HoIy Spirit. How can we bear all persecutions
suffering and necessities?
By the HoIy Spirit.
The same spirit which led to much longsuffering in Paul will lead to
much longsuffering is us.
2 Timothy 3: 10 But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life,
purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11Persecutions,
which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions
I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. In fact, all who
want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Christians will be persecuted. In the future, some of us may be
persecuted severely. When that happens, we will have to exercise God-given
longsuffering. There will be no other way. It will take God’s
longsuffering for us to succeed. Our patience will not do. Our natural
endurance will not suffice.
We will need to be empowered from above
through this amazing manifestation of Agape, a gift of God, a gift of
the Spirit of God, that is free for the asking.
Let’s therefore ask God to fill us with this amazing gift more than ever
by so doing we will reap the benefits of having more self-restraint
in the face of provocation, We will be less willing to retaliate,
we will be less easily provoked to anger, we will be more merciful, we
will be less liable to surrender to circumstances and less likely to
crumble under trials, we will be less liable to get discouraged
when things get tough, and we will be more hopeful.
Quite a package; a package we need so as to be able to tackle our
a package that’s essential, actually critical as we move toward
our glorious future.
Thus we conclude our in-depth analysis of the fourth fruit of the spirit
and we are now ready to
tackle the next Fruit:
The Fruits of the Spirit:
Works of the Flesh:
The Road to Eternal life