Month 12:23, Week 4:1 (Rishon/Pesach), Year:Day 5936:338 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 14 March 2012
Your Calling to Be Longsuffering
Whenever we think of longsuffering, it is always easier to appreciate Yahweh's longsuffering toward us - and others' longsuffering toward us - than to consider our obligation to be longsuffering toward others. With the end of the year only eight days away now and the need to get ready to make a fresh start with the Biblical New Year, I suddenly felt strongly impressed by the Ruach (Spirit) to talk a little about longsuffering to you today.
"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (2 Tim.4:2, NKJV).
Longsuffering is, in a nutshell, restraint of anger in the face of provocation. It is described by the Hebrew words 'erech 'appayim as in:
Whenever Yahweh's longsuffering is described in Scripture you will nearly always find it closely linked to His gracious and merciful character towards sinful and rebellious people, a character that His talmidim (disciples) are expected to share. Thus throughout the Book of Proverbs the quality of longsuffering is commended among men as having practical value in avoiding strife and the wise ordering of human affairs, particularly where provocation is involved.
"And Yahweh passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, "Yahweh, Yahweh-Elohim, rachoom (merciful) and channoom (gracious), 'erech 'appayim (longsuffering), and abounding in chesed (goodness) and emet (truth), keeping chesed (mercy) for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation" (Ex.34:6-7, NKJV).
"Yahweh is 'erech 'appayim (longsuffering) and abundant in chesed (mercy), forgiving iniquity and transgression" (Num.14:18, NKJV).
"But You, O Yahweh, are an Elohim (God) full of rachoom (compassion), channoom (gracious), 'erech 'appayim (longsuffering) and abundant in chesed (mercy) and emet (truth)" (Ps.86:15, NKJV).
In the B'rit Chadashah Sctiptures (New Testament) longsuffering and patience are again attribted to Yahweh as a fundamental character trait inherent in His Shem (Name). In Romans Paul twice speaks of His makrothymia or longsuffering (Rom.1:4; 9:22) toward sinful men and Peter uses the verb in a similar context:
Throughout the Epistles there is a strong emphasis upon the necessity of longsuffering in human relationships within the Messianic Community. As one of the fruits of the Ruach (Spirit) it is to characterise the ministry:
"Yahweh is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is 'erech 'appayim (longsuffering) toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to teshuvah (repentance)" (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV).
Elsewhere the concepts of 'longsuffering' and 'patience' converge showing their mutual identity:
"But the fruit of the Ruach (Spirit) is ahavah (love), simcha (joy), shalom (peace), 'erech 'appayim (longsuffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no torah (law). And those who are Messiah's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Ruach (Spirit), let us also walk in the Ruach (Spirit). Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another" (Gal.5:22-26, NKJV).
Though human provocation is absent in this passage, the believer is being exhorted to emulate the husbandman who waits for the fruit of the earth, yet in the same passage longsuffering is also related to affliction. But once again longsuffering and patience are synonymous and are indices of our discipleship.
"Therefore be 'erech 'appayim (longsuffering, patient - makrothumeo), brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently (with longsuffering) for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be 'erech 'appayim (longsuffering, patient - makrothumeo). Establish your levim (hearts), for the coming of the Master is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!" (James 5:7-10, NKJV).
Patience and longsuffering, without retalliation despite provocation, are not only absolute requirements of believers but testify that suffering is a necessary part of our spiritual maturation process. In our own strength it is hard, if not impossible, to do this, but in the Ruach (Spirit) then we learn to walk even as Elohim (God) walks with us, acquiring His nature so that upon Yah'shua's (Jesus') return we will know Him as He knows us.
"...we know that the Son of Elohim (God) has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). This is the true Elohim (God) and eternal chayim (life)" (1 John 5:20, NKJV).