The English word “longsuffering” seems to imply putting up with something or someone for a long time. But the original Greek doesn’t basically have this meaning. It is MAKRO-THUMIA, the “makro” part means “at a distance”, and “thumia” is “anger”. Hence the thought is to hold one’s anger at a distance, which of course could imply length of time as well. It is the opposite of “having a short fuse”, or “flying off the handle” at the slightest affront or injustice.
Because longsuffering is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, we are required to learn of its ways. Our lesson can best be learned from the way in which the Lord Himself acted in longsuffering.
“The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression.”
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
“However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”
“Those who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.”
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
In PT60 we spoke about the militants who are aggressively attacking every good thing. How then should we respond to those who attack? By drawing back from the human tendency to want to hit out. By not manifesting a “short fuse” when anger rises in our breasts. By looking beyond the present, and allowing God’s perfect judgments to bring good fruit out of bad situations. By blocking off the natural human tendency for revenge. By never harbouring a Jonah-like wish for the destruction of our enemies. By always remembering that it is the will of God that ALL should eventually come to repentance. To recognise that we are seldom likely to bring about repentance with the most hardened of sinners, and yet know that the Holy Spirit is able to break and soften the hardest of hearts. All these things and more demonstrate a true act of longsuffering.
Perhaps a better translation for MAKROTHUMIA might be “restrained patience”. May the Lord help us to put this into practice in ourlives.
References. Gal.5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, . . .
Col 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.
As quoted above – Num.14:18, Rom.2:4, 1 Tim.1:16, 1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 3:9.