Posted by: Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals | June 30, 2009

Fruit Of The Spirit: Peace and Longsuffering (patience)

PEACE.gif world peace image by jennssing

Any good dictionary will define “peace” as freedom from war, harmony, concord, agreement, calm, tranquillity, serenity, quiet, undisturbed state of mind, absence of mental conflict, contentment, acceptance of one’s state and the absence of anxiety. It will list its antonyms as war, anxiety, disorder, disturbance, disruption, conflict and commotion.

The New Testament Greek word most often translated as “peace” is eirene. It has the sense of “joining what had previously been separated or disturbed.” Thus, it frequently is used to signify “setting at one; quietness; and rest.” The Daily Study Bible Commentary by William Barclay says it “means not just freedom from trouble but everything that makes for a man’s highest good.”

The word did not begin that way. Its classical Greek usage was narrow, confined to mean the absence of conflict. The New Testament’s writers, however, also familiar with the Hebrew shalom, used eirene as its synonym. Thus, eirene also came to indicate inner satisfaction, the contentment and serenity that derive from living a full life.

The fruit of peace, like love and joy before it, is demonstrated again by Scripture to be the work of God’s Holy Spirit in us. The peace that Jesus offers comes only as the result of God’s calling by His Spirit through which He works in and through us to bring us into loving submission to the way of peace. That is the way of daily talking and walking with God, coming to know intimately His faithful, loving use of His wisdom and power to complete His glorious purpose in our lives. It produces a peace that passes all understanding because then everything is under perfect control (Romans 8:28-30).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

“Longsuffering” is one of the fruits the Spirit creates in our lives as we live by His divine directions received through the written word.

 Vine: “MAKROTHUMIA, “Forbearance, patience, longsuffering. MAKROS, ‘long,’ THUMOS, ‘temper,’ is usually rendered ‘longsuffering,’ Rom. 2:4; 9:22; 2 Cor. 6:6; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 4:2; Col. 1:1; 3:12; 1 Tim. 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:10; 4:2; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:15; ‘patience’ in Heb. 6;12, and Jas. 5:10.”

 Vine’s notes: “Longsuffering is that 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 1 Pet. 3:20. Patience is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial; it is the opposite of despondency, and is associated with hope, 1 Thes, 1:3…”

In defining “longsuffering,” the following words are used, “forbearance,” “patience,” “self-restraint,” “not hastily retaliate or promptly punish,” “opposite of anger,” “does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under pressure,” “opposite of despondency,” “long tempered.”

Longsuffering is said to be a fruit of the Spirit, that is, it is the result of having the teaching of the Spirit in one’s heart. In this context Paul admonishes, (Galatians 5:25), “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” That is, live the life dictated by the Spirit, absorbing His qualities.

No greater demonstration of longsuffering can be found than that shown by God toward man. But we must understand that His longsuffering has a limit. Consider the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Jews’ rebellion in the wilderness, the Babylonian captivity. It is difficult to understand how God has tolerated the foolishness and the utter nonsense of the human race since the beginning of time: rebellion, idolatry, immorality, cruelty, etc.
Short-temperedness is a common trait of some persons. It is the opposite of longsuffering. Controlling it will stand one in good stead in all areas of life: in the home, in the neighborhood, in the work place, on the streets, and certainly in the church. While all Christians are to be longsuffering, it develops to higher degrees as one matures in age and knowledge. Longsuffering would prevent all-night business meetings, many church splits, and words that never should have been spoken. It would prevent harsh judgments of actions that spring from immaturity and/or a lack of knowledge of all the facts. A lack of longsuffeing is manifested by ascribing to others bad motives when we may have misinterpreted actions or words. A lack of longsuffering is shown when we have a short fuse that causes us to say and do things in retaliation to others. The Hebrew writer says, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise“(Hebrews 10:36). This implies that we can lose the promise by impatience.

Every local church is a “mixed bag” of people from various backgrounds and cultures. It also contains people who are on different rungs of the maturity ladder. Longsuffering is necessary to be able to get along where there are differences on many subjects. It is easy for those who are mature to be impatient toward those who are less mature. It may have taken them years to come to their present level of knowledge, but the mature often are not willing to give the immature the same amount of time and study to reach their level of knowledge and understanding. This manifestly is unfair, and lacking in longsuffering. Paul said, (Romans 14:1), “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” and (Romans 15:1), “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” While Paul in this context discusses matters which were indifferent to God, eating meat, keeping days, etc., it remains a fact that there often are doctrinal differences within a congregation. How to handle these involves the scriptures, conscience, attitude, and a willingness to be longsuffering while the issues are studied. It may be necessary, eventually, to break fellowship over certain issues, but that should be the last resort, and should never happen until the matters have been thoroughly studied and truth rejected.

Longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit, the opposite of it is a work of the flesh. As we contrast the two, it is easy to decide which we want in our lives. Not only is longsuffering essential to living a God-pleasing life, it is also essential to living a happy life. So we can say that it has great promise in the life that now is, and in that which is to come.

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