All of God’s attributes are basically jaw droppers and worthy of our praise, but the one I feel compelled to mention in this blog is longsuffering.
Longsuffering is not really a word that we use very much these days and might better be known in today’s culture as patience.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives us a very graphic narrative of love. When reading this portion of scripture, keep in mind that God is love; therefore each expression used in depicting love—is an attribute of God.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
(It’s tempting to get distracted and write about love, but I’ll save that for another day!)
God is described as being longsuffering. He is very willing and patient to wait on us to love Him wholeheartedly. He provides volumes of opportunity for our heart to completely fall in love with Him.
Why? Why would God who created the whole universe, not just demand that we love Him?
The truth is, He gave us free will. We are free to love or not love God and we are free to love Him halfheartedly.
God didn’t want to create robots, programed to love Him. He wants people made of flesh and blood—created in His image—to choose to love Him.
When we think of patience we think of waiting, but genuine patience is not exactly about waiting—it’s put to the test in the way one waits.
The Lord is not impatient; He does not wait intolerantly for His creation to get their heart aligned with His. No, instead He offers favor, grace and mercy, that we may see and experience His love.
God is also extremely longsuffering with those that don’t or won’t make Him their Lord. I’ve watched Him over and over again extend His unconditional love to those who disregard Him.
Why is He so longsuffering with people who could care less about Him or His love? The answer is—salvation. He is not willing for anyone to spend eternity in hell—He gives countless opportunities for life change and repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
He’s longsuffering because of love. He desires to spend eternity with all His children.
I’m most longsuffering with my children. Why? Because I love and believe in them, I know them, I’ve seen their heart from the very beginning. I know their value and potential—I believe in God’s plan for them. I am not willing to just write my kids off when they portray immaturity or stupidity.
I’m by no means saying I’m as patient as God! I’m just trying to paint a picture for you of how loving, tender and longsuffering God is with His Children—with you and me.
As any good parent He does require obedience, but truly—obedience is birthed out of love—if we love God we will obey Him. (John 14:15) If we love Him we will surrender our whole heart and life to Him.
Let’s take this a step further—God calls us to be longsuffering. To suffer long with those He loves—to patiently see them to wholeheartedness in God and to salvation.
In order to do this we must disregard our own feelings and time frame. I’m preaching to the choir here. When people disregard my God, or trample my love and efforts to help them, my flesh wants to write them off and say “Oh well, I tried but it wasn’t received.” I want to protect myself from their rejection. This is where I push past the struggle and align my heart to God’s.
We have to realize it is not about us or about our comfort, but about God’s purposes and eternity. We must believe in God’s plan and purpose for people. We need to see God’s children as we see our own children and extend grace and mercy just as we do to our own.
I want to be a person of longsuffering (and not just with my own kids). What about you? In what ways can you be more longsuffering?
How do we become longsuffering? Patience and love are a fruit of the Spirit—to have this kind of fruit in our life we must continually be filled with the Spirit of God.
Please be encouraged to be more like Jesus and love with longsuffering just as He loves you!