Put on Longsuffering and Forbearance
Paul has told us that our old man is dead and that we are to PUT OFF the dirty garments that we used to wear.
Then he tells us that we are now a new man in Christ. Therefore, we are to PUT ON new, clean clothing fitting for our new position in Christ.
This morning we want to look at two more articles of clothing mentioned in vs. 12: longsuffering and forbearing.
PUT ON LONGSUFFERING
A. The Term μακροθυμία
1. Long + wrath – some have called this term long fused… one who goes a long time before blowing up! (Don’t be short fused!)
2. It is the opposite of one who is easily irritated, irascible, hot tempered, testy…
3. Zodhiates: long–suffering, self–restraint before proceeding to action.
4. Dictionary of Bible Languages: Calm patience.
5. According to Trench (Synonyms of the New Testament, 189), the difference between hupomone (“patience”) and makrothumia is that makrothumia expresses patience in respect to persons, and hupomene in respect to things or circumstances. (that rule doesn’t always hold however…)
6. It refers to one who restrains wrath and anger.
7. It is self-control—only self-control in a specific area: anger!
8. James 1:19 describes this concept in his command: Be slow to wrath!
B. God’s Supernatural Work in Us
1. Ex. 34:6 – it is God’s character to be longsuffering. (Num. 14:18)
a. The longsuffering that God wants manifested in our lives flows from who HE is!
b. We are to be holy, because HE is holy!
c. We are to love one another, because HE is love.
d. We are to be longsuffering with one another and with circumstances in our lives because HE is longsuffering.
e. This is what it means to be godly… being LIKE God!
2. Joel 2:13 – And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
a. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the words “slow to anger” reflect the underlying Greek word “makrothumia.”
b. God is makrothumia – slow to anger.
c. If we are ever going to SHOW longsuffering in our lives towards others, we must have an experiential knowledge of GOD’S longsuffering in our lives.
d. Here, God again revealed that it is His nature to be slow to anger… longsuffering.
e. God endures much grief from our waywardness… daily.
f. Sin causes grief to you and to me to a small degree. But to an infinitely holy God, sin causes Him infinite grief… and He endures that grief from us daily… He is slow to anger… longsuffering with us.
g. The more we learn of who God is, and the more we grow spiritually, the more we realize just how sinful we really are… and how far short of His glory we fall.
h. The closer we get to God, the more sensitive to sin we become. And the more sensitive to sin we become, the more we appreciate HIS longsuffering with out seemingly endless failures!
i. God is longsuffering TO US…He could chasten us at virtually any moment of any day for something… He has ample cause to judge us for our sin… but He is gracious… slow to anger… longsuffering with us. Thank Him for that.
j. A shallow concept of sin and holiness will never result in a genuine appreciation for God’s longsuffering towards us.
k. But a DEEP understanding and appreciation for God’s longsuffering towards us will have a profound effect upon us.
l. This appreciation for divine longsuffering comes ONLY when we rend our hearts and turn to Him.
• It was the custom in ancient Middle Eastern culture to demonstrate remorse and repentance by rending (ripping) one’s outer garment.
• This outward expression of grief over sin and repentance towards God was also sometimes used as a pretence for GENUINE repentance.
• Many Jews outwardly manifested repentance by tearing their garments so everyone would THINK they had repented, even though inwardly they had NOT repented.
• But God sees the heart. He knows the difference. Here the prophet Joel encourages the people to GENUINE remorse for their sin and genuine repentance… not just an outward show.
• The REASON he gives is that it is God’s nature to be slow to anger… longsuffering. God is WAITING for that kind of genuine repentance!
• When God’s people genuinely repent of their sin and turn from their sin to the Lord, they then EXPERIENCE God’s grace and longsuffering… in a new level of depth.
• We realize how LONG God waited for us to turn to Him.
• We realize how much pain and grief we caused the Lord during that period of time He waited…
• We realize that God had every right to judge us, but He chose to wait… to be slow to wrath… longsuffering towards us.
• We realize afresh how much He LOVES us… as we consider how long He waited.
m. A DEEP understanding of and appreciation for His longsuffering towards us will be reflected in our willingness to show longsuffering towards others… who have sinned against us.
n. AND a DEEP understanding of and appreciation for His longsuffering towards us will also be the most powerful MOTIVATION in causing us to repent of our sin and turn to Him to experience MORE of His grace and longsuffering.
o. It is GOOD to meditate on who God is: gracious and longsuffering!
• Meditating on God’s character will have a spiritually wholesome and healthy effect on us.
• If we are presently living in known sin, it will motivate us to repent… FOR He is gracious and longsuffering… willing to receive us back… waiting for us… like the father of the prodigal son…
• If someone has sinned against us, thinking about God’s nature as longsuffering towards us will motivate us to SHOW the same towards others.
• How ungrateful if we don’t!
3. Matt. 18:26 – God’s longsuffering towards us DEMANDS that we be longsuffering towards others.
a. Jesus illustrated this truth in a parable.
b. Here a servant cried for his master to have patience (same word) with him.
c. Vs. 23-25 – a certain king was owned 10,000 talents and since he could not pay, he was sold into slavery.
• This pictures all of us as sinners: an incredible debt of sin we could NEVER pay!
• The result: we are slaves to sin awaiting execution.
d. Vs. 26-27 – the servant fell down and pleaded for the king to be longsuffering towards him (same word)… and the king was moved with compassion and FORGAVE him the entire debt!
• This pictures God the Father forgiving us our debt of sin when we come to him in faith.
• God forgave us an INFINITE debt… one we could never pay.
e. Vs. 28-29 – Then that same servant went out to one his servants who owed him 100 pennies, and demanded instant payment of the debt. His servant fell down and pleaded for him to be patient (same word – longsuffering) with him and he would repay it all.
• This pictures the way WE often treat others.
• God has forgiven us an INFINITE debt, and we then refuse to forgive (comparatively speaking) a minor debt!
• Those 100 pence may have seemed like a lot at the time, but compared to the 10,000 talents, it was nothing!
• We read this story and instantly recognize what an ungrateful wretch this servant was… until God brings to mind a situation in our lives where we have done the same… and God puts His finger on our heart and says, “Thou art the man!”
• Those who have been recipients of God’s infinite longsuffering have a responsibility to manifest the same to others!
f. Meditating on God’s character and God’s mercy and longsuffering towards us SHOULD move us to be godly towards others… slow to wrath… longsuffering… willing to wait…
4. It is not our NATURE to be longsuffering.
a. Isn’t it more like us to grab the one who sinned against us by the neck and make demands of him… right away?
b. Isn’t it more like us to be SHORT fused with others… but expect others to be LONG fused with us?
c. Human nature is short fused… unwilling to wait it out… unwilling to suffer long…
d. This poor trait is in part behind so many broken relationships.
e. It destroys friendships… people get angry FAST over foolish things often… and because we are short fused, we blow up… and on the other side… the one at whom we blow up may also be short fused… unwilling to suffer long… and so they never speak again… sometimes for years.
f. It ruins marriages. Look at our divorce rate. Because folks are unwilling to suffer for a long time until difficult problems are resolved, marriages break up… With a short fuse, they say, “I’m out of here! I’m not putting up with this.”
g. It destroys churches too. Christians are people too, and it is our nature to have short fuses as well. When problems arise in the local church, too often we are inclined to blow up… and because we don’t like to wait it out until the dust settles… because we are NOT inclined to suffer long… churches split… people leave… without ever resolving the problem.
h. We all know the dangers and the consequences of a lack of control over our anger… but anger comes so easily to us.
i. But HOW do we control our anger? HOW do we become longsuffering? When something gets us angry, we FEEL like we have no power over anger… being longsuffering seems like a distant ethereal dream…
j. Our nature is to be short fused. Being long fused seems so unobtainable at times!
k. We, like Paul, probably often feel like crying out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?!”
l. We ALL have to deal with anger. It touches every one of us.
5. Longsuffering is a supernatural work of God in us.
a. Col. 1:11 – it is only divine might and power that results in this kind of longsuffering…
• A worthy walk that is pleasing to God is one that is FRUITFUL.
• The only kind of fruit that is pleasing to God is the fruit that is produced by the Holy Spirit.
» Gal. 5:22 – longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit.
» I Cor. 13:4 – love is also a fruit of the Spirit… and love suffers long (makrothumia).
» But this kind of fruit—longsuffering… being slow to anger… being able to restrain wrath… requires more power than is humanly possible.
• Hence, God PROVIDES the power we need!
» The worthy walk is one that empowers with ALL might according to HIS glorious power!
» We don’t need to rely on OUR measly power. We are to walk by faith… trusting in HIS glorious power!
» God has ample power to enable us to control our anger.
• If we DON’T control our anger, it is a SPIRITUAL problem.
» We don’t need therapy or a prescription for Valium… or a course on anger management. We need a course on the filling of the Holy Spirit!
» If we walk DAILY… moment by moment yielded to God, God will FILL us with the controlling power of His Spirit… to give us the power to control our anger… temperance… to be slow to wrath… longsuffering.
• And note the PURPOSE of the power: (vs. 11).
» UNTO – having power is not an end unto itself.
» It is a means to an end. The end is patience and longsuffering.
» Patience = endurance (hupomene – bearing up under)—not caving in under the heavy load… under the pressures of life.
» Longsuffering is the result of DIVINE power working in us… not mere natural self discipline or natural self control.
» This is the purpose or the goal of God making His divine power available to us: perseverance and longsuffering…
» This power will enable us to keep on going… it will enable us to keep on walking that worthy walk… that we neither cave in or blow up!
» Life CAN become quite unbearable at times.
» The burdens can cause us to cave in—but God provides patience—not caving in under the heavy load… under the pressures of life.
» Problems with people and circumstances can get under our skin—and cause us to become irritable, touchy, short fused, and angry.
» But if we come to an end of trusting in ourselves, and cast ourselves upon the Lord in total dependence upon Him—He will fill us with His Spirit… who produces patience and longsuffering we need to handle the people or circumstances that are before us.
» Instead of blowing up in anger, frustration, we can be longsuffering… and experience a peace that defies explanation—apart from God.
• And it gets even better! Not only does God enable us to ENDURE and to manifest longsuffering when facing situations and people that would normally drive us off the deep end… He goes way BEYOND mere endurance. God enables us to experience patience and longsuffering with JOYFULNESS!
» This is not a Stoic resignation, or an unhappy, forced submission to circumstances beyond our control, but a joyful acceptance of the will of God.
» God gives us the power of the resurrection that we might find ourselves in this place… where we are no longer slaves to irritability and anger…
» And He expects us to be there! We are COMMANDED to PUT ON longsuffering!
» That takes divine power… and if we are willing, the divine power is provided!
6. Longsuffering is powerful weapon in fighting the good fight of the faith!
a. I Thess. 5:14 – we are commanded to be patient towards all men (same word – longsuffering).
• And let’s face it: some men are pretty hard to deal with.
• Some people get us angry EASILY. Some are mean, nasty, cruel, and irascible!
• But even toward that one, we are to be longsuffering… patient… willing to be long fused…
• God allows us to come in contact with such men to TEST our faith: will we obey God or cave in to our natural impulses to strike back and blow up?
b. Prov. 14:17 – ?He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly.
• The man who is NOT longsuffering, but is soon angry—short fused… deals foolishly.
• He does foolish things…
• Anger leads us to do the most infantile things…
• Anger leads us to say things we wish we never said… do things we wish we never did… make choices we wish we never made.
• But once the foolish words are belted out in anger, there is no chance given to un-ring the bell… to undo the deeds.
• The damage, pain, and consequences of our anger may go on for many days, weeks, months, and even years.
• There are a lot of people in prison right now because they would not control their anger…
• I saw a news clip of an excavator operator who was so mad at his ex-wife that he used his excavator to tear down her house!
• A short fuse leads to all kinds of folly and sin.
c. Prov. 15:18 – A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
• We live in a world full of strife. Strife and conflict are everywhere.
• A wrathful man—one who is NOT longsuffering… one who does NOT have control over his anger, only ADDS to the strife—like stirring up a hornet’s nest.
• But the man who is SLOW to anger (longsuffering), appeases strife! (Appease – the state or condition of tranquility.)
• What a powerful tool! It enables us to act as cold water on a fire that is able to spread!
d. Prov. 16:32 – ?He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
• The person who is slow to anger (longsuffering) has an advantage over a man of great might, strength, and power…
• In other words, conquering oneself is a greater feat than conquering a city!
• The man who controls his anger is in a superior, safer, more valuable position than the great army general who conquers a city.
• Men have achieved great exploits in the world, only to see their personal lives crumble because of a lack of self control… because they were short fused and a slave to their anger and emotions.
• Men have spent years establishing a thriving business… only to bring it to ruin because they did not have control of their anger and nobody wanted to work for them.
• Men have spent years caring for and nurturing a family, only to see it fall apart because they lacked the fruit of longsuffering.
• Families have spent years ministering together in a local church, only to see it crumble because of members with short fuses… who stirred up strife.
• Oh what follies we can avoid if we would simply PUT ON longsuffering as God has commanded us!
• He provides all the power and is more than willing to work longsuffering in us, IF we will rend our hearts and turn to Him in faith…
• The capacity to be slow to anger… to control our spirit is a more powerful tool than all the weaponry of the mighty soldiers who conquer great cities.
• Without longsuffering, without the capacity to control our anger, we can destroy lives and cause unspeakable pain.
PUT ON FORBEARANCE
A. The Term Defined
1. Spoken of circumstances: To hold up; to bear up;
2. Spoken of persons, to bear with, have patience with in regard to the errors or weaknesses of anyone; showing tolerance; putting up with.
3. This is the God given ability to accept the weakness of others… and not be picky over every little infraction.
4. Some of the proverbs describe forbearance for us.
a. Prov. 10:12 – Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. (Cover – to cloth; cover; conceal.)
b. Prov. 12:16 – ?A fool’s wrath is presently? known: but a prudent man covereth shame.
c. Of course Solomon is NOT speaking about hiding our OWN sins… or condoning or hiding the gross sins of others. He also wrote: ?He that covereth his sins shall not prosper.
d. Forbearance doesn’t tolerate gross sin, but it does not attack every little indiscretion of others.
e. Prov. 19:11 – The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
f. In other words, WISDOM and discretion demand that we not become persnickety… that we learn to be forbearing with one another in all of our shortcomings.
g. A man without wisdom will POUNCE all over the tiniest of infractions… and end up with no friends… for he usually overlooks no infractions but his own.
h. A man who possesses wisdom and discretion will learn when, where, under what circumstances to over look the indiscretions of others.
i. There will be times when they need to be confronted, but there are many times when it is best to let love cover it… to pass over a transgression.
j. It is not necessary to confront every word spoken out of line; every rude action; every impolite deed; every dot and tittle.
k. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes: there is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. Wisdom knows the difference.
5. Forbearance is also a fruit of the Spirit. Gal. 5:22
a. When we are yielded to God, we will be highly critical of self, but we will be much more forbearing with one another.
b. We saw that love suffers long (longsuffering). Love also BEARS all things (similar in concept to forbearance).
c. Love is forbearing of the sins of others. Love covers all sins.
d. Eph. 4:2 = forbearing one another in LOVE. Love is also a fruit of the Spirit… and genuine love leads us to be forbearing with others.
e. We all have our own peculiar quirks, idiosyncrasies, and areas of weakness.
f. It probably takes a lot of forbearance for an English teacher today to read a paragraph written by a member of the email generation…
g. It takes a healthy dose of forbearance to have a successful marriage. If you are rigid and unbending, and unwilling to be forbearing with the weaknesses and flaws of a spouse, do everybody a favor… and DON’T get married!
h. It takes forbearance for a parent to bring up a two year old! They are going to break things, drool, mess, throw food, spill their milk, write on the wall… all the things 2 year olds do.
i. It takes forbearance in dealing with new believers in the local church too… and with others who may not be growing at the rate we would like to see.
j. It takes forbearance in the work place… in school… in your neighborhood… with your family…
k. It is not our nature to be willing to put up with all the shortcomings of others… but when filled with the Spirit of God, we will BE forbearing!
6. What destruction and damage is caused by a lack of forbearance!
a. When a father is not forbearing with a child, it can be crushing!
• Either parent can be guilty, but it is worse for the dad.
• He’s not home as much… and in the short time he sees the kids if he is constantly hounding them for the tiniest infraction, they will be turned away…
• The father shouldn’t be a drill sergeant. He should be a dad!
• He should be forbearing… and understanding… realizing that kids are kids… he shouldn’t set expectations that are beyond their reach…
b. When a husband or wife is not forbearing with their spouse, it can be disastrous!
• Either parent can be guilty of this, but it is especially so with the wife…
• She can lack forbearance… and be constantly picking on every little infraction in the home.
• A lack of forbearance leads a woman to become a constant nag to her husband…
• A lack of forbearance with her kids can lead her kids so seek acceptance elsewhere… which usually spells trouble.
• She too can be a drill sergeant—no way to run a home!
c. When a teacher is not forbearing with a student, it hinders the learning process!
d. When a boss is not forbearing with his workers, it can undermine their drive to do well.
7. We are COMMANDED to put on forbearance…
a. It should characterize our walk. (Eph. 4:2) – forbearing one another in love.
b. It speaks of learning to live in an imperfect world with imperfect sinners and learning to put up with the shortcomings of others.
c. And boy do we need wisdom and balance to know WHEN an issue needs to be confronted… and when we are to bite our tongue and forbear it.
d. God gives us that wisdom as we yield to Him. Forbearance is the fruit of the Spirit.
8. God was longsuffering and forbearing with us, wasn’t He?
a. I Tim.1:16 – God showed longsuffering towards Paul.
b. Think of how patient God was… how LONG He suffered waiting for Paul to believe on Him!
c. Paul was there when Steven was stoned to death… and God waited for the right time to deal with him.
d. Paul was hauling Christians to prison to be punished… and God was longsuffering…
e. Paul’s conversion is a PATTERN of our salvation… how longsuffering God was in waiting for us to acknowledge Him… and to turn to Him in faith.
f. II Pet. 3:9 –God is longsuffering; not willing that any perish.
• Vs. 15 – the longsuffering of God equals SALVATION!
• He waits upon us to believe and be saved…
• For some He waits a long time… and suffers in grief over our sins a long time.
g. Rom. 3:25 – God was forbearing with the sins of the world all throughout the Old Testament period.
h. Acts 17:30 – God winked at the ignorance of us gentiles during the Old Testament but NOW has commanded all men everywhere to repent!
i. God is longsuffering… but His longsuffering won’t last forever. We don’t know HOW LONG His longsuffering is.
j. If you are alive right now and breathing, God is demonstrating His longsuffering and forbearance towards you… and offers eternal life to you… at the cost of His Son.
k. But one day JUDGMENT will come… and His longsuffering will be overshadowed by justice.
l. We beseech you—if you are not saved—to trust in Christ TODAY—as your Lord and Savior.