In I Corinthians 13:4, God’s Word tells us that “Charity suffereth long….” This word “charity” can be understood as the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation: it is God’s love as it is manifested by the born-again believer. One of the characteristics of God’s love that we can evidence to others is to “suffer long.” Wait…what? God wants us to suffer long? Let’s find out what God means by “suffereth long.” God not only clearly defines this characteristic in His Word but also shows the powerful effect long-suffering has on others.
First, let’s define our terms. In the Greek, the two words “suffereth long” are one word: makrothumeō. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines makrothumeō as “not to lose heart,” “to be patient in bearing the offences and injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging.” It is also defined as long-tempered. This Greek word comes from makros, which in regard to time means long, and thumos, which Thayer defines as “passion, angry heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again.” In the King James Version, the word thumos is translated “wrath” in Ephesians 4, where we learn that we are to put away this type of passion, or heat, as we renew our minds.
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.
Let all bitterness, and wrath [thumos], and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
We are to put away “all…wrath [thumos], and anger [orgē]…and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven” us. It’s interesting to note that both the Greek words thumos and orgē are translated “wrath” in the King James Version, but thumos is more sudden in its rise. Comparing the two words, E. W. Bullinger notes in his lexicon that orgē can be described as “the heat of the fire,” whereas thumos is “the bursting forth of the flame.” He describes thumos as “the turbulent commotion of the mind, rage.” The love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation doesn’t burst forth with wrath, indignation, fierceness. It is makrothumeō—long-tempered, patient in bearing the offenses of others, mild and slow in avenging; and it does not lose heart.
To help us see how to manifest this characteristic of God’s love and see the powerful effect it has on others, let’s first consider the long-suffering of God.
II Peter 3:8 and 9:
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering [makrothumeō] to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
The Lord our God is long-suffering. His will is that all should come to repentance, which is a change of mind from bad to good. God’s long-suffering gives people the opportunity to make a genuine change in life. Sometimes this change takes place slowly, but God does not lose heart. One day for Him is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. The focus is not on how long it takes for someone to come to repentance but on the desired result.
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering [noun form of makrothumeō]; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
It’s the goodness of God that leads a person to repentance, and God is patient, even in bearing offenses and injuries, as the person makes a change for the better. He exhorts us to be patient too.
I Thessalonians 5:14 and 15:
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient [makrothumeō, be long-suffering] toward all men.
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
God knows that a believer’s patience can be tested at times, so His Word exhorts us to be long-suffering toward all. He instructs us to see that none render evil for evil, but rather that we pursue, or follow earnestly after, that which is good. Though we may be tempted to grow impatient, lose our temper, or lose heart, we can remember that we have God’s divine nature. His love was shed abroad in our hearts at the new birth, which enables us to be long-suffering.
We can learn how to manifest this characteristic practically by looking at the example set by Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, we see Jesus patiently enduring, not losing heart with his disciples as he prepared them for his departure. His one-year ministry was quickly coming to a close, and although he faced enormous pressure, one of his priorities was to help his disciples understand what was forthcoming….
This is an excerpt from the March/April 2016 issue of The Way Magazine.
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