If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll readily admit that we are not as fruitful as we ought to be. The truth is that we are rather quite barren spiritually. Oh yes, we are not what we used to be after our salvation. We bear a nagging sense of guilt that we have not been victorious in our Christian life and are not producing the abundant fruit of the Spirit.One of the fruits of the Spirit is “longsuffering” or makrothumia. The word is derived from makros (long), and thumia (feeling or temper). We know what a short tempered man is like; he blows off his top at the slightest provocation. The long-tempered person is the exact opposite. Longsuffering is the ability to bear with a situation or person for a long time without erupting or exploding. In commenting about this fruit, Barclay had this to say, “The writer of 1 Maccabees (8: 4) says that it was by makrothumia the Romans gained control of the world, and by that he means the Roman persistence which would never make peace with an enemy even in defeat, a kind of conquering patience. The most illuminating thing about it is that it is commonly used in the NT of the attitude of God towards men and women (Rom 2: 4; 9: 22; 1Tim 1: 16; 1 Pt 3: 20). If God had been like us, He would have wiped out this world long ago; but He has patience which puts up with all our sinning and will not reject us. In our dealings with one another, we must reproduce this loving, forbearing, forgiving, patient attitude of God towards ourselves”. (Barclay in The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians p. 60, 61). As I thought about this Divine attribute, I could not help but be amazed by God’s patience towards all of us. Think of it, if it is not because of His patience, you and I would not have survived until now! Although God was provoked by Israel beyond anything that we could imagine, yet He did not explode in anger or immediately retaliate and avenge. Instead He proclaimed Himself as the forgiving and longsuffering God. “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.’" (Ex. 36: 6, 7). How about us, are we longsuffering with those who provoked and insulted us? Are we magnanimous in forgiving others? Are we still holding grudges against those who wronged us? For us to have this kind of longsuffering we need the grace of God. It is only by the Spirit’s power that we can produce such forbearing patience. May we as His children yield to the Holy Spirit so that He could produce this beautiful fruit in us.
Rev. Mark Tay