(KJV) Philippians 2: 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
Longsuffering is a long and seldom-used word. What is it, and why is it so important? How do I display longsuffering in my life?
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines longsuffering as “bearing injuries or provocation for a long time; patient; not easily provoked”. Likewise, patience is “the suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation, or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. Patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from Christian submission to the Divine will.”
Can you think of a better example of longsuffering than Jesus Christ? Think of what He suffered so that we could have salvation. His patience has been unrivaled throughout the ages. Reflect for a moment: where would you be without the longsuffering of Jesus Christ? 2 Peter 3: 9 says the Lord is “longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Without the longsuffering of Jesus, we would have no hope for salvation or eternal life.
Because Jesus was longsuffering toward us, so we ought to be toward others. When we act with longsuffering, we are acting like Jesus. We can say all day long that we are Christians, but until we act like Christ, the people around us will be skeptical. It’s been said that we might be the only Bible a person will read. What do they read on our pages: a quick temper or longsuffering? Quick tempers speak of judgment and easy anger. Longsuffering shows love. We must show the love of Christ to those around us; we can do that by showing them a longsuffering spirit.
It’s not easy. We won’t just wake up and think, I’m going to be longsuffering today. I think anyone who hears the words longsuffering or patience acknowledges that they could use more of it in their lives. We even jokingly say don’t pray for patience unless you want it tried. It seems that the more you try to be patient, the harder it is. As Christians, we are called to be Christ-like, and longsuffering is one of Christ’s traits that we must work into our lives. Philippians 2 shows us how we can be longsuffering like Christ.
Philippians 2: 3-8 – “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
How do we lay aside strife and vanity? How do we esteem others better than ourselves? We follow Jesus Christ’s example. We humble ourselves. We put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. We see the other person as Jesus would see them. Did they disappoint us? Did they make us angry? Did they do us harm? Jesus would reply, “I love them. I died for them. I want them to accept me and the eternal life that I offer them. Put yourself on the back burner. Forget your wounded pride or disappointment. Be patient with them for my sake.”
Longsuffering, no matter how hard it is, will always be the Christ-like response. It is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. As such, we never have to try to be longsuffering alone. We can always lean on the Spirit for strength and help when we need to have patience. Then one day, we may reap the fruit of our labor – a soul who turns to Jesus because we showed them Christ through our longsuffering.