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!
There are several words for “hope” in the Old Testament. One of the root words for hope is “kaw-vaw.” It is usually translated as “wait.” “Hope” is a nice word. “Wait” is not, especially in western society. For us, it seems life should be done at great speed and everything done with maximum gain in mind. So waiting is always bad.
How good are we at waiting in the doctor’s office, at a traffic light, in line at the bank, etc? Do we get bored, frustrated, impatient? How does this word, “kaw-vaw” connect to hope? It also means “to expect” or “look eagerly”. Wouldn’t it be great if anytime we had to wait, that we would turn our hearts to God and listen? Hope then, can be defined as “the quiet expectation of good things that God wants to do in us and through us.”
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness.
Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You. Psalm 33:18, 20-22
Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
To say “I hope so” means you strongly desire a particular event to happen. This is very different from the biblical definition of hope. The biblical definition could be described as confidence in God’s favor or God’s best.
Are we confident that God’s best is going to happen in our lives?
Many have little hope.
- Are we resolved to failure in some area of our lives — that we will never break some bad habit, or maybe that we will never get into good physical shape?
- Are we settling for disappointment — that we will never have an intimate relationship with our spouse, or never have a good job?
- Are we lowering our expectations of God’s blessings — that we will never be out of debt, or our ministry hopes will never happen?
Jeremiah 29:11 (above) declares that God wants to give us confidence that his best is coming to us.
In 1Samuel 30, David and his army returned from battle and came to their city to find it burned, and all of their family members and possessions taken captive. “So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep” (v.4). To make matters worse, there was talk of stoning David (v.6).
But David does something remarkable. “David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” That is a good example of hope. Instead of focusing on his circumstances, the loss of his family and the threats to his life, he focused on the promises of his God. David went on to recapture all of the family members and all of their stolen goods.
Can hope be dangerous? Yes. Hope can lead to more disappointment if we put our hope in the wrong thing. If we put our hope in people (including ourselves) or circumstances, we will be disappointed. The only thing we can put our hope in is God alone. He is the only one that is able to keep promises without faltering. We even must be careful to not put our hopes in the blessings that God gives us. It must be in God alone. We can have confidence that anything that is taken away from us is only for our good. Even good things can be taken away – but will always replaced by far better things.
Romans 8:38-39; “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Colossians 3:12-13 describe some of the Christian attributes including, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing and forgiving each other in love.
What a wonderful life Christians have, knowing and living in God’s perfect, unobstructed compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing and forgiving each other! Since nothing can separate us from these things, Christians should be the happiest, most joyous people in the world. Why aren’t they?
It is because we as Christians do not focus on God, but on our circumstances. We choose to react to how others treat us rather than God’s blessings for us. Why would we focus on the broken people that surround us instead of the perfect love and peace that comes from above? No good reason. When we focus on people and their brokenness, we perpetuate that brokenness through our negative reaction to them.
Today let us focus on the blessings God has promised, not the world’s miserable distractions!
Who could possibly be big enough to thwart God and His love toward us? People, demons, the devil himself? Not a chance.
But, do we really believe we are continual recipients of God’s love? Here is how we can tell. When we act unloving to anybody (even our enemies), it is because we feel unloved.
If we cannot be separated from God’s love, why do so many people feel unloved? It is because people have trouble, hardships, persecution, money problems, feel they are in danger, and even threatened (see Romans 8:36). Having these things in our lives certainly distracts us from experiencing God’s love. But Paul wrote, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39. Paul was convinced because he believed the Word of God rather than his circumstances. If we are not walking in love to all of the people around us, we are showing that we do not have faith that God’s Word is true and His love is never failing.
Today, let’s sweep fear, anger, doubt, and anxiety away. Let’s meditate on God’s unfailing love until our hearts burst forth with love and compassion for the weak and frustrated souls that God puts in our path.