(5th article in the Discipleship Series)
In my last article, I discussed Gentleness (Gentleness: The Power of Kindness and Mercy). Gentleness is the Fruit of the Spirit we express when WE ARE UPSET WITH PEOPLE.
In this article I will be discussing Longsuffering. Longsuffering is the Fruit of the Spirit we express when PEOPLE ARE UPSET WITH US. It’s patiently enduring when people are giving you grief about something.
Sometimes we may deserve the grief, other times we may not. In either case, longsuffering is about maintaining emotional balance so that God is glorified.
The following scripture expresses the qualities of longsuffering:
For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.1 Peter 2:19-20
Maintaining Emotional Balance
We maintain emotional balance when we TRUST God.
In this world:
1. There will be times when we make mistakes.
2. There will be times when people become upset with us.
Concerning our mistakes: God has forgiven us and is cleansing our mind, will and emotions as we confess our sins to Him (1 John 1:9).
When people are upset with us: we recognize that our justification doesn’t come from people or even ourselves, it comes from God.
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; BUT HE WHO JUDGES ME IS THE LORD.1 Corinthians 4:3-4So we give it to God and REST in Him. Mentally we take a wide stance, feet planted firmly on the ground.
We know that the Devil would like to cause division— we balance ourselves against it.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.1 Peter 5:8We wait for the Lord to give us direction. We put away our pride and fear of man.
Dealing With People
When people confront you, sometimes you remain quiet sometimes you don't.
When Jesus was reviled, He did not revile in return. When Jesus suffered, He did not threaten, He committed Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:23).
This doesn’t mean that we are passive. There were times when Jesus challenged His accusers.
One example is when Jesus was arrested. He was being questioned by the high priest. One of the officers didn’t like how Jesus responded to the high priest, so he slapped Him in the face. Jesus challenges him by asking:
“If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?” (Romans 18:23)
Longsuffering isn’t about avoiding confrontation. It’s okay to SET BOUNDARIES with people. It’s just that when we set boundaries we do it in love— we don’t become angry or controlling. Setting boundaries lets people know who you are. It creates honest relationships. When people get a sense of who you are, it allows them to be who they are. Jesus never tried to control people. He just showed them the way.
Longsuffering also applies to life’s trials. The Apostle James discusses them in this passage:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.James 1:2-8 NKJV
Why does God allow trials?
In that we have God’s perspective (read my article, Peace: Getting God’s Perspective), we know that trials are allowed by God to TEST and PURIFY our faith.
However James says, if you want to know WHY God is testing you, that is, if you want to know the WISDOM of God— just ask and He will tell you.
What might we expect from a prayer of FAITH?
It might be that God would reveal the OUTCOME of your trial. Read my article, Three Steps For Getting God Involved in Your Prayer, to learn how faith works.
It might also be that God wants to grow you in His STATUTES on the way to resolving your trial. Here are some of the statutes God could be building in your life:
God is trustworthy, He cares for you.
Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.Psalm 56:3
Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.1 Peter 5:6-7
God saves those who fear (obey) Him.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. The Lord preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.Psalm 145:18-20
Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear you, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!Psalm 31:19
God doesn’t want you to be afraid of men.
The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.Proverbs 29:25
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?Psalms 118:6
God wants to be the supplier of all your needs.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.Matthew 6:33
In any case, God wants to use the battlefield of life (Ephesians 6:12) to grow you in your faith— He wants to make you an overcomer.
For whatever is born of God OVERCOMES the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.1 John 5:4
Longsuffering is about maintaining an emotional balance. Emotional balance is maintained when we trust the Lord no matter what the circumstance. If someone is upset with us we remain calm. If situations are working against us, we seek God for the BIG PICTURE— we look for His perspective. Since trials are about testing or purifying our faith, we should always ask God what He is trying to teach us.
God wants His goodness to shine in our lives. That’s why next time I’ll be discussing the fruit of GOODNESS.
Longsuffering and Establishing Boundaries