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Faithlife Corporation

Attributes of the Spirit-filled Life: Longsuffering

Notes & Transcripts

Harvey Mackay is a businessman and columnist and author. He is best known as the author of five best-selling books on sales strategy. One of those books, written in 2005, was entitled Swim with the Sharks (Without being eaten alive). It’s a book about world-famous businessmen and their secrets to success. One of the stories he tells is about a trip to Japan to listen to that country’s top business men. Listen to part of the story: “When I was in Japan in 1983, we had a series of seminars in which we heard speeches from the leaders of Japan’s largest industrial concerns. We heard from the top officers of Honda, Sony, Mitsubishi, and the head of the biggest enterprise of all, the eighty-eight-year-old president of Matsushita Electric—Masaharu Matsushita. Persuading them to speak to us was quite a coup, because the Japanese system is much more rigidly structured than ours, and they regard appearing before the troops in this fashion as somewhat beneath their dignity. And if giving speeches was regarded as ... crude ... imagine how they felt about answering questions. But when the eighty-eight-year-old Matsushita addressed us, he spoke eloquently and profoundly.” Then came the questions: Questions: “Mr. President, does your company have long-range goals?” Answer: “Yes.” Question: “How long are your long-range goals?” Answer: “Two hundred fifty years.” Question: “What do you need to carry them out?” Answer: “Patience.”

Patience is one of the seven spiritual fruits found in Paul’s life here in Galatians 5:22. It is a Holy-spirit-given gift that when exercised in your life is testimony to the Spirit-filled life. In a day when road-rage is the new excuse for impatience that spills over into inappropriate violent behavior, our society needs to witness the quiet contemplation of believers who exhibit a steadfast patience in the midst of an impatient world.

The patience that is spoken of in the New Testament is normally translated in the King James translation as longsuffering. It refers to an emotional calm even under provocation. It is a composure that entertains no thoughts of retaliation even when wrongfully treated. The best example we have in the New Testament is our Lord’s behavior in each of the three trials he endured the night before His crucifixion. In Matthew’s Gospel we read this account:

Matthew 27:11-14 “Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. 12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.” NIV

In remaining mute, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” NIV

God’s greatest evidence of His longsuffering nature is in His forgiveness of sin. In the Old Testament, the Psalmist tells us that our God is; “. . . compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:8-10, NIV). In the Net Testament Paul refers to his own sinful life and the patience Jesus showed him as an example to others.“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16, NIV) In other words, if Jesus can save Paul, Jesus can save anyone.

As believers, we too, are to exhibit the kind of longsuffering that can only be explained by the presence of God in our lives and the filling of His Holy Spirit.

The Bible teaches that there are many areas where the believer needs to have patience. But there are four areas that are particularly stressed.


    • “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;” (Psalm 37:7, NKJV)
            1. God has always acted in His time and in His ways
                1. He does not conform Himself to our timetables or our agendas
                  • “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8, KJV)
            2. for those reasons, it takes patience and perseverance to wait on God
              • ILLUS. Some of you are aware, that one of the Apostle Peter’s most glaring faults was his lack of patience. Peter is always putting his foot in his mouth or going off half-cocked because he is impatient. In John’s gospel, the last chapter, we see what happens when Peter gets tired of waiting on God. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and instructed them to go to Galilee and wait. Well, they do what Jesus told them to do—kinda. They went back to Galilee and they waited, and they waited and they waited. Finally, Peter gets tired of waiting and he tells the rest, “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going back to fishing.” What Peter really needed to do was wait until he had heard from the Lord!
            3. waiting on God can be tough!


            1. what I mean by “waiting for a word from God” is seeking God’s will for the decisions about life that are critical to us
                1. much of God’s will for our lives is found right here in the Scriptures
                    1. we don’t have to look very far to know the Lord’s will concerning morality and ethics and decent God-fearing living
                2. but there are certain decisions in life where only prayer and the Holy Spirit can give us the direction we need
            2. Peter and the other disciples needed directions for life
                1. the instructions were to wait for Jesus and listen to what he had to say because He would give them the direction they needed
            3. sometimes Christians need directions for life
                1. directions about job or career choice
                2. directions about educational pursuits
                3. directions about marriage partners
                4. directions on how to fix broken relationships
                5. directions on how to handle a difficult circumstance
            4. these are just a few of the many areas where you may need a word from the Lord
                1. you may have to patiently wait for God to reveal His directions to you


            1. there are some situations in life where timing is everything
              • ILLUS. Just ask the figure skater who is trying to execute a Triple Lutz. “Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him.” (Ecclesiastes 8:5-6, NIV)
            2. waiting on God sometimes means patiently remaining where you are until God grants you permission to proceed
                1. there are times in life when we know that it’s God’s will to make a certain decision or go to a certain place or to do a certain thing—
                2. but proceeding at God’s timing can be critical in determining the success or failure of what you do
                3. blessings from God may be lost by missing God’s timing
            3. when faced with those situations where God’s timing is important, ask yourself the following question ...
                1. “With all the information I have and all of the praying that I’ve done, do I sense that God clearly is directing me to proceed at this time?”
            4. we must be longsuffering when we wait upon the lord


            1. all Christians are being transformed into the image of Christ
                1. for some that process takes a little longer—there are a few more rough edges to file off
            2. longsuffering is needed in the Body of Christ as we cope with each other and the burden of fellowship
                1. now I know what some of you are thinking, “Now wait a minute Pastor, how can the fellowship of the saints have a burden to it?”
            3. it sure does
              • “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:1-3, NIV)
            4. fellowship in the church means being concerned about the lives of those in the pews next to us
                1. when they hurt, we should hurt
                2. when they rejoice, we should rejoice
            5. in these verses in Galatians, Paul reminds us of the kinds of burdens that may come with fellowship


            1. we should never take pleasure in the moral or ethical fall of a fellow believer
              • ILLUS. Not too long ago I heard rumors about a fellow pastor whom I attended college with. The gossip concerned a moral lapse. I never did like this person. He was obnoxious, self-centered and had an ego that makes him insufferable to be around. When I heard the stories my first response was, “Gee, couldn’t have happened to a nice guy.” The Holy Spirit quickly convicted me and I have since repented of my attitude. We should never take pleasure in a brother or sister who are caught in sin.
            2. when we find a fellow believer who is caught in a sin, Paul says that we must gently restore them
                1. this may take a loving patience with that person


            1. in Gal. 6:2 Paul writes, “Carry each other’s burdens”
                1. the word burden used here refers to a weight, to heaviness, to bulk, which may be oppressive
            2. life is not antiseptic even for the faithful believer—just ask Job!
                1. life has a way of laying burdens upon our shoulders from time-to-time
                    1. some burdens may be relatively light and only have to be carried for a very short time
                    2. some burdens are like a millstone around our neck and bend us low—they only seem to get heavier with time
            3. when we see another believer in such a condition we are to lend a helping hand
                1. the word carry in verse 2 literally means to take upon with the hands or to take up in order to carry or bear upon one’s self
            4. to help others with their burdens may take a longsuffering love on our part


    • v. 3 “if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
            1. all of us know such saints
                1. they purport to have a direct line to God and are the only ones who really know God’s will for their church and the lives of fellow Christians
            2. those kinds of folks can be a real pain in the pew and can be difficult to be around and yet we are to love them and fellowship with them
            3. we must be longsuffering while we wait upon each other to mature into the fulness of Christ


    • “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:10-11, NIV)
            1. some church historians have estimated that more Christians have were martyred for the faith in the 20th century then in all of the nineteen centuries that proceeded
                1. this year alone it is estimated that, worldwide, 160,000 Christians were martyred for their faith
                2. as we sit here this evening, it is estimated that 400 believers have been killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ in the last twenty-four hours
            2. the church is being persecuted around the world as never before
              • ILLUS. Much of that persecution has been fueled by the indifference of government leaders in the United States and Europe who largely keep silent about the discrimination, bigotry, torture, enslavement, rape and murder of Christians around the world—particularly wherever militant Islam has taken hold and wherever Communist dictators rule. The so-called “Arab Spring” in the Middle East and North Africa and become a “Christian Nightmare”. William Dalrymple, a well-respected Scottish historian, recently wrote, “Wherever you go in the Middle East today, you see the Arab Spring rapidly turning into the Christian winter … The past few years have been catastrophic for the region’s beleaguered 14 million strong Christian minority.”
              • “Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter.” (Ecclesiastes 4:1, NIV)
            3. as the Day of the Lord’s return grows ever closer, I believe the time will come when the Church in America will come under increasing persecution
                1. it will be a great time of sifting out the chaff in congregations across the land
                2. I believe that many of us alive today will live to see that time and may have to make a choice as to who we will serve
            4. when that day arrives we will need to be longsuffering in the face of persecution as so many of our brothers and sisters around the world already are


            1. in his first letter to the believers in a city called Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul commended the believers for their patient endurance in the face of severe trials as they awaited the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
              • “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father," (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, NKJV)
            2. the word translated patience in this passage denotes the idea of one remaining in place—hold your ground
                1. regardless of what comes . . .
                2. regardless of what transpires in our lives, our hope in Christ and His Second Coming is secure and unmovable
                3. it does not mean passive resignation to our troubles implied by the phrase “grin and bear it”
                4. it means an aggressive constancy and a dogged determination to retain our hope even in the face of our difficulties as we wait for the trumpet call of God, the shout of the archangel and the appearance of our Lord, Jesus Christ with the Hosts of Heaven
            3. in the meantime, our waiting for that great event may take some patient endurance on our part
              • “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the Coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:7-8, NKJV)

What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God? It means to exercise the gift of longsuffering.

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