Fruit: Longsuffering


Before I met my wife I was dating this girl whose family lived in Knoxville. Super nice family. They used to invite me to do stuff with their family from time to time.

One day we were sitting in traffic in the back of their car and someone pulled out in front of us and stopped to turn left. It was the kind of little annoyance that probably happens to everyone all the time. But it became one of the scariest experiences in my life. My girlfriends stepdad was driving and he immediately parked the car, right in the middle of a busy road, got out of the car and starting yelling at and pounding on the car that stopped in front of us. He exploded. There was no warning. It was humiliating and terrifying at the same time. I remember slinking down in the back seat wishing I could disappear and be a million miles away.

Ecclesiastes 7:9. Which by the way is the text I’m preaching from tonight. Says this:

”Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”

James 1:19, in the New Testament, says this:

”Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”

People are angry. You see it everywhere. From riots and protests on TV to talk radio and the tv talking heads. You see it in politics. You see it at work. It’s everywhere. But the scariest place we see it is in our own souls and in our own families.

Statistically, do you know what the leading cause of women between 15-45 is? It’s not rape, muggings, or car accidents. It’s domestic violence. In fact, domestic violence accounts for more hurt women than rape, muggings and car accidents combined.

Anger is everywhere.

I’ve got to be honest with you - I struggle with this. No, I don’t hit and yell at my wife. But I can have a very short fuse and for me, one of the ways the old man comes back and says “I’m still here” is in my anger and frustration.

That is exactly what I’m going to be preaching about this morning.

Take your Bible and turn to Galatians 5 again. You should be really familiar with this passage by now. We are going to read verses 22-23:

”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

I’ve been preaching about the fruit of the Spirit for a couple of weeks now and we are right back at it. So far we’ve talked about:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • and Peace And this morning I’m going to preach about the one in this list that I think might baffle some of you: longsuffering.

Let’s have a word of prayer and then I’m going to give you five things about longsuffering this morning.


The first thing I want to talk to you about longsuffering this morning is:

1. longsuffering: defined (or what is it?)

Longsuffering is not a word you hear anymore. If fact, as I was typing this, I had to add it to my computers dictionary because it kept telling me it wasn’t a word. But it’s here in my Bible. Longsuffering.

Because it’s not a word we don’t use anymore but it is a word in the Bible, I think we need to do a little word study.

The word “Longsuffering” is the greek word “makrothumia.” That clears it up. Let’s move on. (Just kidding.)

Makrothumia is actually a compound word like the English words “pancake” , “softball” and “keyboard.” It’s just two words stuck together.

Makro means long. It’s actually still a prefix we use today. Have you heard of macroeconomics or macrocosm? It’s the opposite of “micro” which means “short” or “close.”

So long.

But what does “thumia” mean? ”thumos” is a Greek word that means “wrath”, “anger” and “fierceness.”

So literally, this word “longsuffering” means “long wrath” or “long anger” or let’s really put it in modern terms - “long fuse.”

Longsuffering, then, is the ability to go through annoyances and trouble without blowing up. It is what James calls being “slow to wrath.” It is taking the anger and annoyance dial and turning it way, way, way down.

Long wrath. Longsuffering.

So that is what longsuffering is. Let’s look at the second point:

2. longsuffering: prescribed (or why do we need it?)

We don’t use the “word” longsuffering today, but that doesn’t mean the Bible doesn’t use it - a lot. There are at least five times in the New Testament where the Bible says we Christians are supposed to be longsuffering.

Look at a couple of verses with me:

(2 Corinthians 6:6) By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

(Eph 4:2) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

(Col 1:11) Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness

(Col 3:12) Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Now, I want you to notice two things about all of these verses:

First, None of these verses command longsuffering. None of them say “Be ye longsuffering” - you, you over there “will yourself to have a long fuse.” They don’t say that.

The second thing to notice here is the reason why it’s not framed as a command: Longsuffering is a byproduct of walking with God. In other words, when you get your relationship with God right, God will take care of your anger issues.

So let’s get right to it and look at the third point:

3. longsuffering: obtained (or how do I get it?)

Remember - the fruit of the Spirit (and Longsuffering is a fruit of the spirit) don’t come through effort. They come through walking in the spirit. We have two options, we can walk in the flesh or we can walk in the spirit. We can walk in the old man or we can walk in the new man. We can be carnal or spiritual.

God wants to work in your heart. God wants to change you from the inside out. You know this. You saw this last week. God is doing something through His Holy Spirit in your life and if you yield to the Holy Spirit and you learn from the Holy Spirit it’s going to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit which includes longsuffering.

If you are reading your Bible. If you are keeping up your prayer life. If you are walking with God. God is going to help you with your anger problem.

4. longsuffering: diagnosed (or what does it mean when I don’t have it?)

And the opposite is true: If you are blowing up all the time. If you are mister short fuse. If your anger gets the better of you often, then that is a symptom that you aren’t letting God work in your life.

So how do you act when people wrong you? Let’s get where we live: how do you act when your wife doesn’t do what you expect her to do? Ladies, when your husband does that thing you can’t stand again how do you handle it? Mom. Dad. How about when your kids are out of control? What about when your boss or your employee ticks you off again..

Do you blow up? Maybe others don’t see it, but are you blowing up inside?

It may be that the problem isn’t the problem at all. The problem is in your walk with God.

I want to take this somewhere you probably aren’t thinking about. I want everyone to turn with me to Matthew 5. Let’s read verses 39-42 together:

[Mat 5:38-42 KJV] 38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have [thy] cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

5. longsuffering: exemplified (or what does it look like?)

And this brings me to our fourth point about longsuffering.

I told you there were a lot of Bible verses about longsuffering. But the vast majority of those bible verses aren’t about our longsuffering. They are about God’s longsuffering.

So if you want to see longsuffering in action, then you look at God. Look at some of these verses:

(2 Peter 3:9) 9 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.

There is no greater example of “long wrath” than God. I mean, look around. This world is just chock full of people who despise God and despise the things of God. Look at our country - we murder millions and millions of babies every year. We export immoral filth all around the world via Hollywood. Our nations is full of people who despise God and who even tempt God. But God doesn’t judge us. God doesn’t destroy us in anger. The only explanation for that is His longsuffering.

Or let’s get more personal - way more personal. How many times have you blown it? How many times do you sin against a Holy God? Even knowing God and knowing about Jesus you live like He isn’t real and you go after all of these idols - money, fame, prestige, pleasure. God is like a spurned husband. That is what the whole book of Hosea we were talking about last week is about. Yet God doesn’t step in and destroy us. He’s longsuffering.

Some of you have had so many opportunities to trust Christ. Some of you felt the pull of God on your hearts last week and you didn’t do anything about it. God is longsuffering. God is giving you another chance to accept Him and be saved.

Another verse that talks about longsuffering is Romans 2:4:

(Romans 2:4) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?.

God has been putting up with a lot from you in his effort to win you or win you back. Don’t spurn him. Don’t despise Him.