The Fruit of the Spirit Series-Long Suffering
As I mentioned in the first message of this series: to develop the Fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Galatians 5 verse 22, 23)) is to develop the character of Jesus. In Romans 8 verse 19 the word says ‘for the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” The whole world is waiting for people to develop the character of Jesus. The Greek word for “sons” in the above verse is “huios” which means “the expression of the character of the parent.” It means that the offspring is starting to act like the parent. To have the same character as Jesus one has to develop the same fruit that was easily recognizable in Jesus. Our number one prayer should be that the Father would conform us into the image of Jesus (Romans 8 verse 29). God’s fruit must be cultivated while His gifts are bestowed by His grace. In Mark 4 verse 28, the word says the fruit grows; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. Fruit is cultivated over a period of time. As a matter of fact, the purpose of His gifts is to produce fruit in us, as the power of His gifts should humble us. Also, the ones who develop all the fruit will be the ones that most manifest His power. The gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit go together.
Only God can develop the fruit of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 3 verse 5, 6). One way to cultivate His fruit is to read the epistles (Romans to Revelation) and speak the scriptures into our lives, as God directs, that help us spiritually.
The next fruit of the Spirit I want to discuss is the fruit of longsuffering: Longsuffering means to “suffer long,” “to gird up under pressure,” to remain steadfast.” When one sees someone go through suffering with faith, hope and love they will stop, take notice and listen. The functions of the fruit of longsuffering are:
1.) To produce endurance, which is the capacity to remain firm under suffering without yielding to anger, resentment, despair or self pity. Hebrews 12 verse 1 says to run the race with patience. This is not a short sprint requiring great speed. People who run according to their emotions and feelings won’t cross the finish line. Marathon runners would never finish the race if they stopped if they were feeling hot, thirsty or tired. A great example of long suffering is in 2 Cor. 11 verse 23-28 where Paul mentions the various trials that he had to go through: three times beaten with rods, three times he was shipwrecked, hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness, etc. He mentioned that he took pleasure in these trials for when he was weak than is he strong (12 verse 10). He certainly had the capacity to suffer long. There is a crown of righteousness to those who endure to the finish (Tim. 4 verse 7, 8). In John 6 verse 60, 61, 66 Jesus wanted His disciples to continue to follow Him after He preached a “hard” message but many of them couldn’t. Jeremiah mentioned in Jer. 12 verse 5 that if you can’t run with the footman how can you ever run with the horses? We need the fruit of longsuffering to endure to the end ( Mt. 24 verse 13).
2.) To promote unity among believers by patience and longsuffering in overlooking faults. When someone who is at “fault” meets “no patience” the result is unforgiveness, bitterness and strife. On the other hand, when “fault” meets “longsuffering” there is forgiveness, mercy and love. Peace and harmony does not depend upon the absence of fault but the presence of Jesus (Colossians 3 verse 12, 13). In James 5 verse 7-9, of all the things that he could have said that could destroy the Church he mentions “to grudge.” We have to be longsuffering with people and overlook their faults, especially if we want them to overlook ours!
3.) To enable believers to receive God’s promises in His word-Heb. 6 verse 12-15 says that through faith and patience we can receive His promises. Ephesians 6 verse 10 -14 talks a lot about “standing.” We need to stand on His word to receive the promises in His word. Praying is our part; the timing is God’s part! Abraham stood for 25 years on the promise that he would have a son through Sarah (Gen. 12 verse 4, 17 verse 17). Caleb stood for 45 years (Joshua 14 verse 10). Noah stood for about 100 years (Gen 5 verse 32, 7 verse 6). Some of His children can’t stand under an attack for 5 minutes, but call their prayer partner to pray for their escape!
The ways of cultivating the fruit of longsuffering:
1.) Keeping the word of God- Luke 8 verse 4-15- the parable about the sower and the seed says that the seed that fell on the good ground are those who hear the word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience. If one doesn’t keep the word of God they could become offended.
2.) By experiencing tribulation-Romans 5 verse 3 says that “tribulation worketh patience.” It is not about that you just experience trials but how. Those who “wait” during a trial develop patience but those that worry can develop spiritual paralysis. Isaiah 40 verse 29-31 –those that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength……
3.) By maintaining hope- Rom. 8 verse 24, 25- says that true hope is hoping for something we don’t see yet and that by patience we wait for it to develop. One must have hope for themselves and for others going through a trial. An example of hope is mentioned in Rom. 4 verse 18, 19 where Paul talks about Abraham hoping against hope for the LORD”s promise about becoming the father of many nations.
Again, the fruit of longsuffering needs to be cultivated and the evidence of this fruit is truly worth the effort.