"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
1. When the way to the meeting house seems too far.
2. When the sermon seems too long.
3. When the singing comes hard and seems dreary.
4. When you see so much to dislike in your brethren.
5. When the preacher makes you mad.
6. When the members frequently say things that offend you.
7. When your reading of the Bible is dull and puts you to sleep.
8. When it frets you to be called on to give.
9. When you feel that there is no use of working with the sinners around you.
10. When you are impatient with the shortcomings of your brethren and feel you have few or none of your own.
11. When you make excuses for your sins and try to persuade yourself that God will not punish or judge.
THEN YOU ARE NOT RIGHT WITH GOD. YOU ARE DRIFTING, BACKSLIDING, SINNING.(From: The Old Paths, Owensboro, KY, 1/16/05)
The person with a “short fuse” is short-tempered and easily provoked to anger. Longsuffering is the opposite quality. The word “longsuffering” in Galatians 5:22 is translated from the compound Greek word makrothumia (makros, long, and thumos, temper). Longsuffering is literally to have a “long temper.” Vine expands on this by adding that “longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate nor promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger and is associated with mercy” (Vine). It is, as Barclay observes, “the power to see things through.”
God has been longsuffering to man. He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth” (Exo. 34:6). Were it not for God’s longsuffering we would no doubt be instantly consumed by the just wrath of God against our sinful acts of provocation. God’s longsuffering gives sinners the opportunity to repent (Rom. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). God’s longsuffering is manifested every time He forgives a sinner (1Ti. 1:15-16).
Longsuffering is a feature of patience, mercy and compassion. As Barclay rightly notes, “the patience of God waits when the impatience of man would long since have acted in destructive anger.” Think of God’s readiness to forgive the murderers of His Son (Lk. 23:34; Acts 2:37-41). Would we wait patiently and show mercy toward one who had murdered our loved one? If not, then please meditate on God’s readiness to forgive sinners like you and me. Was it not God’s longsuffering toward you that led you to repentance? Shall we not give to others as we have received from the merciful hand of God? The one who walks in the Spirit does.
Here is the defining quality of longsuffering that distinguishes it as a part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Longsuffering is part of God’s nature. When we walk in the Spirit we partake of the divine nature by practicing longsuffering toward others as God does toward us (2 Pet. 1:4). Longsuffering is one of the defining traits of the heart put on by the Christian puts off the old man of sin (Col. 3:12). It helps us be patient toward others, forbearing and forgiving them when they sin against us – just as Christ has mercifully forgiven us (Col. 3:13).
We are commanded to be longsuffering toward all (1 Thess. 5:14). Longsuffering is useful and needed in every area of life: It keeps us from rendering evil for evil (1 Thess. 5:15); when we are sinned against, it helps us forgive (Lk. 17:3-4); it sustains us as we preach the gospel (2 Tim. 4:2; 2:24-26); its presence in the home helps secure peace and harmony (Col. 3:19, 21); when applied at work it helps one deal with mistreatment (1 Pet. 2:18-19); and in times of trial it helps sustain the faithful (Rom. 12:12).
There is wisdom and power in longsuffering (Prov. 14:29; 16:32). It prevails over hostilities. Its endurance vindicates truth and justice. The long-sufferer is a peacemaker (Prov. 15:18; Matt. 5:9). Longsuffering promotes humility and keeps us from being a fool (Eccl. 7:8-9). So, be wise. Be longsuffering toward others. Remember, God is being longsuffering toward you.
The Associated Press reported January 20, 2005 that 28-year-old Lakhvir Singh Lally of British Columbia was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for importing nearly 50 pounds of the illegal drug Ecstasy into the US. Lally tried to smuggle the drugs across the Blaine, WA border crossing in the engine compartment of a commercial tractor-trailer rig. The 100,000 pills had a street value of about $2 million (The Bellingham Herald).
The Bible warns of smugglers who try to slip their corrupt ways into the church and destroy souls. We must be warned and armed against purveyors of evil.
1. Some smuggle false doctrine (Matt. 7:15-20; Jude 4). Appearing as gentle sheep (not unlike a commercial truck at the Canadian border), false teachers are wolves who smuggle rotten teaching under the guise of legitimacy. The fruit of error devours souls. We must carefully test what we are taught against the apostolic word of truth and then honestly contend for the faith (1 Jn. 4:1, 6; Jude 3).
2. Some smuggle Satanic deceptions (2 Cor. 11:13-15). These profess that they know God but they offer and promote “another Jesus,” a “different spirit” and a “different gospel” than what is proclaimed in “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3-4). These spread doubt about the faithful (cf. 2 Cor. 10-13). We are thankful the customs agents looked under the hood because it helped saves lives. We ought to be thankful when the mask of deception is pulled back and evil is exposed, because it saves souls.
3. Some smuggle false accusations (3 Jn. 9-10). Diotrephes is among this number; slipping in their malicious innuendos against faithful brethren without proof. With great swelling words they bind and loose according to the dictates of prideful preeminence.
These smugglers will be sentenced to eternal death.
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA