Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. – Colossians 3:12-13 ESV
How would you describe God? What are the qualities of God? What are qualities that make someone “Christ-like”, or in essence, “God-like”? Of all the names that Jesus could refer to Himself as, how did Jesus describe Himself? Jesus liked to call Himself the Son of Man. More than any other title. Jesus preferred, SON OF MAN, over every other name for Himself. When talking about Himself Jesus, appropriately could have used many names; Son of God, Son of David, Master, Rabbi, Lord, King, Christ, or Messiah, it is “Son of Man” that we find most frequently on Jesus’ lips. So how would you describe God the Father? Here is how Abba, Daddy, referenced Himself to His ‘man on the street’, Moses. Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping 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.”- (Exodus 34:5-7) Notice again, in a similar situation as in Exodus 34, Father God, Yahweh, Adonai, El Shadhai, Jehovah El Elyon is getting frustrated with the stiff-necked, complaining, non-conforming, no-appreciative Jews and this time, Moses wanted to remind Father God of who He said He is; The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. (Numbers 14:18)
Leader, this is how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob identifies; LONG-SUFFERING. In the Book of John, right after Jesus gave traveling instructions to His disciples, in John 14, Jesus also told us that the same qualities that are in the Father are in Him. It was Jesus that told us, ‘if you have seen me then you have seen the Father”. Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8-9) Peter knew His Lord Jesus, and thus new the Father and He too gave the same description of God; The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) The Word that those closest to God, to Jesus, used to describe them is LONG-SUFFERING. Long-suffering is not a word we use today, many people synonymously use the word, patient. However, Long-suffering is more than patience. The word longsuffering is made up of two Greek words meaning “long” and “temper”; literally, “long-tempered.” From the Greek word “makrothumia,” meaning “long-tempered” or patient. A person who is long-suffering is not weak or meek, but he/she is strong in character and bold in resisting rash reactions. God is the epitome of long-suffering, of patient love. He desires to make us the same!
Conduit, other translations substitute longsuffering with; slow to anger, Patient, gracious, merciful, forgiving. We are never more like God than when we SUFFER-LONG for the love of others and for the spreading of His Good News, His Gospel! Jesus, when asked by Peter, how LONG SUFFERING SHOULD WE BE? Jesus responded with an answer that astonished those who heard it. Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! (Matthew 18:21-22) Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” (Luke 17:4-5) Yes, God is long-suffering, and in His quest to use the unfairness, the unjustness, and the hardness of this world to mold us into the image of His Son, our Savior, Jesus! To be long-suffering, is to have self-restraint when one is stirred to anger. A long suffering person does not immediately retaliate or punish; rather, has a “long fuse” and patiently forebears. Longsuffering is associated with mercy (1 Peter 3:20) and hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3). It does not surrender to circumstances or succumb to trial. God is the source of longsuffering because it is part of His character (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18–20; Psalm 86:15; Romans 2:4; 1 Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 3:15). In making us in the image of His Son, He is patient with sinners- He wants us to do the same unto others. At the same time, God’s longsuffering can come to an end, as seen in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18—19) and the sending of Israel into captivity (2 Kings 17:1–23; 24:17—25:30). Read 2 Kings chapters 21-25 and read about God giving Judah over to the evil desires of her heart. There is a time when God says, ENOUGH! That is why we must be long-suffering in our desire to accomplish our mission; for the LORD has anointed US to bring good news to the poor. He has sent US to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released, and prisoners will be freed. He has sent US to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. (Isaiah 61:1-3) Remember the parting words of Paul to his spiritual son Timothy. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching”. Lord, show us how to increase our faith! Amen.