We come now to one of the fruits of the Spirit that is often difficult for us to produce. However, we must understand that the fruit of the Spirit is a natural outflow of a Spirit-filled life. Therefore, when we are Spirit-filled, these fruits will be naturally evident in our life. Longsuffering basically refers to patience. In order to understand the patience that is produced from a Spirit-filled life, one must consider patience as an attribute of God and patience in the life of the believer.
Patience as an attribute of God. We serve a God who is patient, slow to anger, and merciful. There are many examples of God’s patience seen in the Bible. (1) God’s patience in Noah’s day. 1 Peter 3:20 says, “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” God delayed sending the flood while the ark was being built in order to give opportunity for people to repent and turn back to Him. (2) God’s patience in dealing with Israel. Think about the number of times the children of Israel turned away from God. Yet, God still loved them and patiently remained faithful in His promises to them. Over and over, God forgave them. Over and over, God gave them a second a chance. Nehemiah 9:17 says, “And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.” God does the same for us. Time and time again we fall, yet, He still forgives us. (3) God’s patience toward the lost. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “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.” The delay in the return of Christ is a testimony of God’s love for mankind and His desire for everyone to come to faith in Him.
Patience in the life of believers. Since we serve a longsuffering God, we too ought to be longsuffering. There are several areas in which we are to be patient. (1) Patient with the unrepentive. Jesus explains our need to be patient with those who have hurt us by sharing a parable in Matthew 18:23-29. “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Sometimes it is difficult for us to forgive those who have done us wrong. However, think about how much forgiveness and grace God has given to us. Who are we to have an unforgiving heart? (3) Patience in spiritual growth. Growing to become like Jesus does not happen overnight. It is a slow and methodical life long process. There will be times when you will be dry and complacent spiritually. There will be other times when you will be on fire and experience a spiritual high. You cannot allow the ups and downs of the Christian life to drag you down or cause you to give up. You must stay faithful, be consistent, and have patience as God works in you to develop you into the man or woman of God that He would have you to be. (4) Patience in prayer. The scripture tells us to, “pray without ceasing.” It is difficult to pray and wait for an answer. Sometimes, God will delay in answering our prayers in order to strengthen our faith and to build our character. We must never give up, and we must be patient in prayer. (5) Patience in the storms of life. Life has a way of throwing us curve balls. When the unexpected occurs and we don’t know what to do, we must learn to patiently wait on the Lord to see us through. (6) Patience in waiting for Christ’s return. The ultimate desire of every believer is to see the coming of the Lord. We are all waiting eagerly for that day when the trump of God sounds and we are called home. James 5:7 says, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” Waiting for the coming of the Lord is like a farmer waiting on his seed to bring forth fruit. The fruit will come, but there is a waiting period. Jesus is coming, but we must wait. While we patiently wait for His return, we must stay faithful in serving Him.
Patience is something we all struggle with. Remember, in order to have patience, we must live a Spirit filled life. Because the fruits of the Spirit is the natural outflow of a Spirit filled life.