The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Longsuffering

Posted by on Feb 4, 2007

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

February 4, 2007

Sunday Morning

“The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Longsuffering”

 

Scripture Text: Galatians 5:22

Introduction:

 

A.   Thus far in our study of “the fruit of the Spirit,” we have noticed three different outward evidences that a believer in Christ is walking “in the Spirit.”

1. The first outward evidence is “love.”

2. Paul said, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” (Gal. 5:22)

3. If a believer in Christ is truly walking “in the Spirit,” he will be a loving Christian.

4. First of all, He will love God.

5. Secondly, He will love the lost.

6. Finally, He will love other believers.

7. And so, the first outward evidence is “love.”

 

B.   The second outward evidence that a believer is walking “in the Spirit” is “joy.”

1. Paul said, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy.”

2. If a believer in Christ is truly walking “in the Spirit,” he will be a joyful Christian.

3. And not just when things are going his way!

4. He will be joyful even in the midst of terrible trials and tribulations.

5. And so, the second outward evidence is “joy.”

 

C.   The third outward evidence that a believer is walking “in the Spirit” is “peace.”

1. Paul said, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.”

2. If a believer in Christ is truly walking “in the Spirit,” he will be peaceful Christian.

3. First of all, he will be at peace with God.

4. Secondly, he will have the peace of God.

5. Finally, he will be at peace with others.

6. And so, the third outward evidence is “peace.”

 

D.   This morning, I want us to look at the fourth outward evidence that a believer is walking “in the Spirit,” and that is “longsuffering.”

1. Paul said, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering.” (Gal. 5:22)

2. First of all, I want us to answer the question…

 

I.       What Is Longsuffering?

 

A.   The Greek word from which the word “longsuffering” is translated is the word “makrothumia,” which literally means “longanimity, forbearance or fortitude.”

1. I was curious about that word “longanimity,” so I looked it up in Webster’s Dictionary and found this definition, “a disposition to bear injuries patiently.”

2. Actually, you get the same meaning when you break down the word “longsuffering.”

3. The word “long” means “a long time.”

4. The word “suffer” means “to allow, to endure or to put up with something.”

5. When you put these two meanings together, the word “longsuffering” means “the ability to endure or to put up with something for a long time.”

 

B.   Someone has defined “longsuffering” as “the quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish.”

1. I think the key words here are the words “self-restraint.”

2. “Longsuffering” is “the ability to restrain oneself when one feels like retaliating against someone or punishing someone.”

 

C.   I read yet another definition of “longsuffering” last week that I really liked.

1. According to this definition, “longsuffering” means “long-fused.”

2. Short-fused people are people who “blow up,” or become angry, or get upset very easily.

3. I know people like that, don’t you?

4. You are afraid to be around them, because the least little thing will cause them to ”fly off the handle,” so to speak.

5. People who are “longsuffering,” on the other hand, are just the opposite.

6. They have a long fuse.

7. It takes an awful lot to get them “riled” or upset with you.

8. Those are the kind of people that I like being around!

 

D.   “Longsuffering” is the same thing as “forbearance.”

1. Turn with me to Eph. 4:1-2, “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.”

2. Paul said it like this in Col. 3:12-13, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;…Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you.”

3. When Paul admonished believers to forbear “one another,” he meant that we should…

-bear with one another,

-put up with one another,

-endure one another’s imperfections.

4. This is what the apostle Peter had in mind when he wrote these words, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:8)

 

E.   Now let me make something very clear here, before I move on to my next point.

1. When I talk about bearing with one another, and putting up with one another, and enduring one another’s imperfections, please understand that there are some imperfections that we should NOT endure.

2. For example, if someone’s actions are illegal or harmful to others, it would be inexcusable to overlook them.

3. (Illus.- Let me illustrate. There is a very large Baptist church in Memphis, TN, that is in turmoil today because a sin was “covered up” that should have been “exposed.” It seems that the senior pastor found out, in a counseling session, that another pastor on staff was a child molester, yet he covered it up for six months, allowing the child molester to continue to serve. I don’t know what excuse he gave, but there is no excuse for that kind of misconduct.)

4. And so, there are some imperfections that, because of their serious nature, we should not endure.

5. When Paul admonished us to forbear “one another,” he simply meant that we should be willing to overlook, at least initially, those minor injustices that are sometimes committed against us, even by fellow believers.

6. The reason I use the phrase “at least initially,” is because even a long fuse has an end!

 

F.    And so, that’s what longsuffering means. Now…

 

II.      To Whom Can We Look For An Example Of Longsuffering?

 

A.   That’s easy.

1. No one is more “longsuffering” than our God! (Amen?)

2. Listen to Num. 14:18, “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression.

 

3. Listen also to Psa. 86:15, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”

4. Finally, listen to 2 Pet. 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.”

 

B.   Let me give you three examples of God’s “longsuffering.”

1. First of all, God was “longsuffering” with mankind just before the flood.

2. Listen to 1 Pet. 3:20, “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.”

3. Usually, when we think about the flood, we think of God’s judgment (and rightly so).

4. However, we forget that after God decided to destroy the world with a flood, He waited 120 years.

5. During this time Noah preached to the people, pleading with them to repent.

6. One can only assume that had mankind responded to Noah’s preaching and repented of their evil, God would have spared the world.

 

C.   A second example of God’s “longsuffering” is when He was “longsuffering” with the nation of Judah before the Babylonian captivity.

1. When we think of the captivity, we usually think about God’s judgment (and rightly so).

2. However, we forget that before Judah fell, God gave them countless opportunities to repent.

3. He sent prophet after prophet to the nation to warn them of the coming judgment and to call them back to God.

4. “Jeremiah,” alone, preached for 40 years.

5. It was only after the longsuffering of God was exhausted, that God brought the armies of Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Judah and to carry them into captivity.

6. Listen to 2 Chron. 36:16, “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.”

7. Even God has His limit when it comes to being longsuffering.

 

D.   There is a third example of the “longsuffering” of God.

1. Not only was God “longsuffering” with mankind before the flood.

2. Not only was God “longsuffering” with Judah before the captivity.

3. He was also “longsuffering” with us before we came to Christ! (Amen?)

4. In 2 Pet. 3:15, Peter wrote that “…the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”

5. That’s so true, isn’t it?

6. If it were not for the “longsuffering” of our God, all of us would be in hell today.

 

E.   The apostle Paul certainly realized that he owed his salvation to the fact that God is “longsuffering.”

1. Listen to what he wrote in 1 Tim. 1:16, “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.”

2. We all remember how Paul, when his name was Saul, “persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.” (Gal. 1:13)

3. Yet God was “longsuffering” toward him, and eventually saved him.

 

F.    And so, the best example of “longsuffering” is our God Himself. Finally, this morning,…

 

III.    Why Is Longsuffering Such An Important Evidence Of The Working Of The Spirit?

 

A.   It is important because it contributes to both peace and unity within the body of Christ.

1. Turn with me to Eph. 4:1-3, “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;…Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

2. Now what do these verses teach us?

3. They teach us, among other things, that being “longsuffering” and exercising forbearance results in both “peace” and “unity” (harmony).

 

B.   Take the marriage relationship, for example.

1. I’m sure that we would all agree that both “peace” and “unity” are to be desired in any marriage relationship.

2. Well, one thing that is extremely helpful in achieving this is being “longsuffering.”

3. Why is this true?

4. Remember the word “long-fused”?

5. It is true because if both the husband and wife are “long-fused,” they are much less likely to…

-blow up at each other,

-become angry with each other,

-get into an argument for fight with each other.

6. The result of this will be more “peace” and “unity” (harmony) in the marriage.

7. Now this does not mean that couples who exhibit the quality of “longsuffering” in their marriage will never have a disagreement.

8. What it does mean, however, is that the disagreements that are sure to come will be both fewer and less severe in nature.

 

C.   The same thing is true when it comes to our relationship with our church family.

1. The Bible tells us 1 Cor. 1:10, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

2. Now this raises a question.

3. We know that God desires both “peace” and “unity” within His local body, but what can we, as individual members, do to encourage this?

4. The best thing we can do is to…

-be “longsuffering,”

-be long-fused rather than short fused,

-put up with a LOT before we reach our limit.

5. I’m convinced that most church squabbles could be avoided altogether is we would just exhibit more “longsuffering” in our lives.

 

D.   Do you know what?

1. “Longsuffering” is nothing more than “love in action.”

2. You are familiar with 1 Cor. 13.

3. We sometimes call it the “love chapter” of the Bible.

4. In this chapter, Paul goes to great lengths to define the nature of love (“charity”).

5. Do you remember the very first words he used to define the nature of love?

6. They are found in Vrs. 4, he said, “Charity (love) suffereth long.”

7. In other words, love is “longsuffering.”

8. If we truly love someone, we will be “longsuffering” with them.

9. If we truly love our…

-spouse,

-children,

-fellow believers,

we will be “longsuffering” with them.

 

10.   And the more we love them, the more “longsuffering” we will be.

11.   “Charity (love) suffereth long.” (1 Cor. 13:4)

Conclusion:

 

A.   Now, let me once again ask you a very personal question.

1. Are you walking “in the Spirit”?

2. If so, then your life will exhibit “longsuffering.”

3. If you are walking “in the Spirit,” then you…

-will be long-fused,

-will be “slow to wrath,” (Jam. 1:19)

-will be able to exercise self-restraint in the face of provocation.

 

B.   Someone says, “Pastor, I’ve got to be honest with you, this morning. I have a very short fuse. It doesn’t take much at all to set me off. The least little thing will cause me to lose my temper with my spouse, my children, or my fellow believers. What’s my problem?”

1. One of two things is your problem.

2. Either you are not saved, or you are not walking “in the Spirit” like you should be.

3. Only you can decide which.

 

C.   (Prayer & Invitation)