But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. -Psalm 86:15
The longsuffering of the Lord is seen so clearly in His patient calling of us to salvation. He waits to send judgment because of it: 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)
It is the longsuffering of our Saviour that draws us to Himself, even when we are naturally rebellious against Him: Or despises thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4) We rejoice in how He suffered long with us and continued to call us to Himself!
Yet, despite being mercifully saved, we often still struggle with old sin habits, sometimes seemingly impossible to overcome. For those who long for freedom from sin, but find failure continuously staring you in the face, take heart. Our God IS longsuffering! He endures long and patiently with our sin, even after salvation. The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. (Psalm 145:8) We can sometimes form the wrong view of God as looking down from heaven, just waiting to see where we fail so that He can punish us in righteous anger. This is not our God! When Christ died for us, He already knew the depth of depravity that was inherent in our nature. He is not caught off guard by the fact that we still struggle with sin. He knows our sin, and He loves us still.
We ought not to take advantage of the longsuffering nature of our Lord; to continue blatantly in our sin is the basest ingratitude to such longsuffering! He is still holy and righteous and cannot excuse sin, but, Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remebereth that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14) This ought to compel us to strive all the harder against our sin that we might please the One Who so patiently endures our faults and failures. If we can contentedly live in our sin against God, we have not truly seen the love and longsuffering nature of our God.
Not only does recognizing the longsuffering nature of our Lord prompt us to fight against sin and temptation in our life, but we also develop that same longsuffering in us for others’ faults. Charity suffereth long… (1 Corinthians 13:4) True Christ-like love will manifest itself in patiently enduring provocation from someone else because we recognize how much longer the Lord has suffered with us and how much infinitely less we deserve that patience!
Sometimes, we might put up with someone because we know that it will work to our advantage in the end – we will get something from them or be rewarded for our patience. The Lord does not “gain something” from suffering long with us. He endures our sin and offers pardon and restoration for our advantage, that we might have peace, forgiveness, victory, a walk with Him. That is truly self-sacrificing love!
The characteristics of our God are so beyond our comprehension, not the least of which is His longsuffering nature. This week, when frustrated with failure, your own or someone else’s, think of Him Who is slow to anger and endures so patiently those faults and failures!