Fruits of the Spirit: Longsuffering

by: Bill Bratt


The apostle Paul admonished true Christians to "walk in the Spirit" and if we do then we will "not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16.) So how do we walk in the Spirit? Paul continues in the next five verses in telling us what the "works of the flesh" are and then he answers the question of how do we walk in the Spirit when he says: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23.)

Let’s take a look at ‘longsuffering’ which is the fourth in the list of the fruits of the Spirit.

The Greek word for ‘longsuffering’ in this verse is makrothumia, [mak-roth-oo-mee'-ah] and can be defined as forbearance, fortitude, longsuffering and patience. Longsuffering is patiently enduring wrongs or difficulties. Patience is the capacity of calm endurance.

Longsuffering is an old English word for patience and also includes forbearance which is the ability to have mercy. It is also the quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish. It is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy.

Patience is that steadiness of mind by which you wait for the result or answer to be achieved. The person who is patient does not become frustrated because problems do not always lend themselves to immediate solutions. Patience is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances under trial. This type of godly longsuffering and patience can come only through the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit.

God is Patient

God is the God of patience and comfort (Romans 15:5) and He is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Psalms 86:15) with mercy, kindness and graciousness. God’s people, Israel, at times refused to obey, but we see that God was patient with them as Nehemiah records: "But You are God, Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them" (Nehemiah 9:17.)

God is patient with sinners and allows them time to repent. The apostle Paul asks the question: "Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4.)

God is also patient not wanting anyone to perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9.)

God’s People are to be Patient

David the Psalmist learned to be patient when he was confronted with the prosperity of the wicked (Psalms 37:1-38.) He learned that in order for the righteous to inherit the land that they must be patient and wait on the Lord (Verse 34) and that they must trust in God (Verse 49.)

We, New Testament Christians, must face adversity patiently. The apostle Paul tells us: "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; {4} and perseverance, character; and character, hope. {5} Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:3-5.) These qualities that Paul lists here are some of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit.

The apostle Paul records in the ‘Love Chapter’ that Christian love is to be patient: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up" (1 Corinthians 13:4) and continuing in Verse 7: "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

The apostle John gives us a key Scripture in the definition of Christian patience: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12.) Here we see patience tied to keeping all ten of the God’s Ten Commandments to faith. We are to "imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6:12.)

James records that the testing of our faith produces patience: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, {3} knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. {4} But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4.) When we have a trial or test, we cry out to God and we bring the problem to God and we know that He will answer, but sometimes He will delay the answer to test our faith and patience. This perseverance leads us to maturity.

James also relates to us that there is a blessing for those who are patient and persevere: "Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord; that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful" (James 5:11.) If we persevere and endure to the end, the blessing is that we will be saved (Matthew 24:13.)

Christian Patience is a Gift from God

We have already seen that patience is one of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22.) The apostle Paul also tells us that we are to have the patience of Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:5.)

We are to be patient, like a farmer, in waiting for Jesus to return. Let’s notice what James said: "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. {8} You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:7-8.)

Results of Patience

One of the results of patience is peace of mind. Patience also produces physical blessings of lower blood pressure and frustrations. By being patient we will have fewer hasty words, hurt feelings and able to have good solid relationships.

In conclusion: To be patient is to be calm, cool and collected. We need to go to God the Father in prayer and ask Him for the fruit of His Spirit: Patience.