We are happy to announce beginning February 7, 2010 that Scott Richardson will begin preaching for The Jackson Drive Church Of Christ.
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Long-suffering is hard. But, if I am to become more like God in character, I must become more long-suffering. When I remember how long-suffering He is with my many failings, it makes if easier for me to be long-suffering with others and their little annoyances. Paul tells us “love suffers long.” Can you think of anything more needed in human relationships? We need to be long-suffering in our relationships with: Christians interacting in a local church, husband – wife, parent – child, or getting along in society. The failure to be long-suffering will result in a rupture of any one of the above relationships.
In the Old Testament, the word “long-suffering” is a word meaning literally long nosed or breathing as opposed to “anger” which was indicated by rapid, violent breathing through the nostrils. In the New Testament, the word literally means long of mind or soul as opposed to shortness of mind, irascibility, impatience, or intolerance. W.E. Vine defines the word as “that quality of self restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish.” Trench says, “a long holding out of mind before it gives room to action or to passion.” Abbot tells us long-suffering is “self restraint which does not hastily retaliate.”
Furthermore, long-suffering and patience are not necessarily synonymous. Generally, long-suffering expresses the idea of patience in respect to people. William Barclay says, “Long-suffering expresses a certain attitude toward people which never loses patience with them, however unreasonable they may be and which never loses hope for them however unlovely and unteachable they may be.” He says, “Patience expresses an attitude toward events which never admits defeat and which never loses hope and its faith, however dark the situation may be and however incomprehensible events may be.” Both attitudes are essential for Christians, but long-suffering of love is primarily in relation to people and our attitude toward them when they offend or provoke us.
Paul tells us the reason he obtained mercy was because of the long-suffering of Jesus Christ (I Timothy 1:16). When Jesus was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not. Christ’s long-suffering attitude towards His enemies prevented Him from sinning against them. Long-suffering is also a part of the character of God. In fact, our salvation is due to His being long-suffering with us (II Peter 3:9) because He is concerned with our soul. His long-suffering is a part of His goodness, but if we misuse it or abuse it, He will punish us (Romans 2:4). Divine love is long-suffering and ours must be too!
We must develop the virtue of being long-suffering. It is called for in any relationship. It is needed with brethren (Colossians 3:12, 13, 21), those we teach (II Timothy 4:2), and in overcoming prejudice (II Timothy 3:10). In the absence of long-suffering, all good is neutralized. Presence of long-suffering results in an attitude that makes working together possible. Long-suffering is not an optional quality of our character. Love produces long-suffering – and that will make us most like God.