Galatians 5:22 lists the fruit of the Spirit. The forth in the list the KJV has “longsuffering”. The newer versions of the NIV have the word “forbearance” (and yes, there are revisions of the NIV). It is interesting that the most recent translations of the NIV use the antiquated word “forbearance”. Forbearance in legal terms means, restraining from taking a legal right. In spiritual terms, we might have the “right” to be offended or angry, but we have the supernatural gift of refusing to do so.
In actually, the KJV translation “longsuffering” is a better reflection of the original Greek. Galatians 5:22 says that we have the supernatural ability of not losing our peace or joy when others are miserable around us! That is good news. So many of us think that we have no option but to react to the negative situations around us.
Nehemiah 9:17, “You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” These terms should describe us if we acted like our Father. Can people describe us as forgiving, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love?
The fruit of “longsuffering” is a gift of freedom from the negative situations around us. We can live above the insensitive and irritating things people do around us, and to us.
Colossians 3:15, Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.
“Let” implies that if we do not stop something, it will occur automatically. To “rule” means to “umpire” or to make judgment on whether something is according to the rules. Paul is telling us to let the peace of God make the decisions about what happens in our lives. Many times in the New Testament, God is called “the God of peace”. We should all let the God of peace rule the peace of God over our hearts.
What is the “peace of God”? It is the supernatural calming effect of the Holy Spirit. God does not always block the irritations in our lives. But He brings this supernatural calming effect in the middle of the irritations. Philippians 4:7 states it this way, “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” There is a God-kind-of-peace that goes beyond normal understanding. “Guard” means to put a body of troops in control. We should have an army of peace protecting our hearts and minds.
How can this happen? The peace that transcends is obtained and maintained by the principles in Philippians 4:4-6.
- Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice!
- Exude gentleness
- Do not be anxious
- Pray in faith
Doing these simple things will help keep us in the “peace that passes understanding.”
Philippians 4:4, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
This verse sounds like a command, because it is. God wants us to be joyful. Living in joy is a choice. It is allowing God to do His work in our hearts. It is the natural outworking of the Holy Spirit in us (Galatians 6:22).
But why do so many Believers have so little joy? Many (dare I say, most) are angry, bitter, worried, and fearful. Maybe some do not know that they are supposed to live in joy. That is a shame. It is a wonderful gift! Others may not think they deserve to live in joy. But it is a free gift from the heart of our loving Father. Still others focus on their hurts, the abuse they have suffered, their lack of something that others are perceived to have, etc. For whatever reason, they exclude themselves from this inner effervescence of Life.
We are given a choice everyday to live in joy, or in some miserable state of mind. I am not a really smart guy, but when given a choice of joy or anger, bitterness, worry, or fear, I think I will choose joy.
A life of joy can be difficult to start. We have deeply entrenched ourselves in horrible thought processes. Sometimes our poor ways of thinking have been handed down from generations past. Depression, fear, or anger can be carefully taught by parents. A life of joy might be hard to start because our family and/or friends need for us to live in misery, so they will not feel alone in their misery. But this pattern is not for us any longer.
It is time we all started some choices that have no downsides. Let’s start our day with joy and not give control of our attitude to anyone but the Holy Spirit!