But the fruit of the Spirit is…forbearance…. Galatians 5:22
Instead of “forbearance,” the King James Bible uses the word “longsuffering” for this verse. Longsuffering? What in the world is that?
Perhaps reading a few other translations would help. The Message says “a willingness to stick with things.” The ESV says, “patience” and the New Living Version says, “not giving up.” There are more, I’m sure.
Dave’s version uses any word. Pick one; they’ll all be fine. But I’m not Paul; what he’s really saying is that a fruit of God’s Spirit is what is best in humankind. Our ability to be patient, to endure, to stick with it, to not give up. Determination. What is independent spirit except the determination to do something at all costs, to see it through no matter what happens?
A fruit of God’s Spirit is that longsuffering patience that is what is best in us. God bolsters it through love, joy, peace, and other qualities. When the Bible said in Genesis that God made man in His own image, He gave us this quality of Himself that He knew we would need in a world of fallen people and hostile intentions. Indeed, longsuffering, determined patience is, perhaps, God’s most amazing quality. If nothing, all the stories of the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, are stories of God being patient with people who fail time and time again.
People like us, though sometimes I feel longsuffering but not very patient. I want fast internet, but sometimes it still feels like 14,400 (kbps, for those who don’t remember the 1990s). When I was job-hunting, I wanted immediate answers, but that’s never fast. And when I’ve been sick, I needed a diagnosis NOW, even as some tests take time.
And that’s the ticket, you see: some tests take time. God invented time; he even invented some tests. He did it so that our longsuffering periods could point us closer to Him, so that He could demonstrate His love, joy, peace, mercy, and His own patience to us when we needed them most. Our generation seems pretty spoiled. We have that fast internet, so fast that we stream hundreds of on-demand programs at lightning-fast speeds and get upset when they take more than 10 seconds to load; it’s a first-world problem. We have medical tests that can detect things that have previously been impossible to detect. We can look for hundreds of new jobs simply logging onto a website; no more dozens of paper applications.
Our choices in this world are so many and so varied that, without this wonderful patience God gives us, we couldn’t even function to choose. That’s why I say that, perhaps, the Lord’s longsufferingness is the best quality He could have given to us.
For further reading: Genesis 1:26-27, Galatians 5:22-23
Lord, all praise to You for your fruitful gift of patience! Help me to be patient today.
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