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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

February 12, 2016

Can you "suffer long"?

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

Longsuffering is no longer an everyday word, but it is a virtue needed more than ever when impatience, intolerance, oversensitivity and impulsive anger are so prevalent. If we are growing as Christians, "longsuffering" will be part of our character, since it is part of the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:21-22).

Longsuffering is virtually the opposite of anger, especially of "outbursts of wrath" (2 Corinthians 12:20). When a traffic light turns green, some drivers will impatiently honk their horns if the car ahead doesn't start moving within two seconds!

Many people tend to overreact. They quickly get on the defensive, interpret remarks as attacks and then strike back. Many people carry a lot of inner anger from their past. Every small hurt or annoyance adds to the storehouse of anger. The slightest provocation brings the anger to the surface and into the open.

Anger usually involves a spiteful attitude of retaliation and revenge. But God forbids this: "Bless those who persecute you . . . Repay no one evil for evil . . . do not avenge yourselves" (Romans 12:14; Romans 12:17; Romans 12:19). The Bible teaches mercy and forgiveness.

People tend to excuse their anger, but most human anger is self-centered and sinful. "The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:20).

Paul described the behavior of love: "Love suffers long and is kind . . . [It] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil" (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). The New International Version renders his words this way: "Love is patient, love is kind . . . It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."

Our thoughts and attitudes are likewise important, as they are the source of our actions and words: "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45).

Therefore we should honestly examine our attitudes. Each of us should ask: Am I motivated by love, respect, patience and compassion, or am I motivated by resentment, contempt, intolerance and hardness of heart? Clearly we need the antidote for these latter negative traits, which is God's Spirit!

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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