How long can you put up with people doing the wrong thing before you get upset? Although we try to correct the problem quickly it still exists. Some of us can handle the situation better than others but how long can it go on before we get mad? What about a child that keeps running in the house, or an employe who after told how to do something does it wrong? Today we are looking at forbearance which is part of “the fruit of the Spirit” Galatians 5:22.
As we imitate Christ, how did he handle those who were doing the wrong thing or having a wrong attitude? How long was his forbearance?
Before we look at Jesus let us see what God did in history and his forbearance. In the beginning we see that God talked personally with people, teaching them how to live a holy life. As the years went by the law, prophets, judges, and kings were given to teach the right way to live. The law was our school master, you might say our text book for living. Yet the people still wanted to live their own way.
Galatians 4: 4 tells us that it when the time was right Jesus came, being born of a woman. Being born of a woman would make him fully human, with the limitation that we have , and God at the same time. He was under the law, and did not come to do away with the law. Jesus came to fulfill the law which puts us under the grace of God. Being human Jesus would have been frustrated by the actions of other people which brings us to his ability to be loving to others.
Matthew 23 and Luke 19 record a time Jesus was entering the city of Jerusalem. Luke tells us that he wept over the city because of the way they were living. They went to church to hear the word of God but they did not live by the word of God during the week. Matthew goes on to tell us that Jesus would like to have gathered them as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing. Jesus wanted to protect everyone from the harm of sin, but they refused to listen to him. For three years he taught them how to live a better life following God.
Jesus often talked with the Jewish leaders, most often encouraging them to follow the spirit of the law. At times we can see that Jesus was harsh with leaders but it was always to bring them back to what God had wanted for their lives. Just one example is when Jesus healed a blind man on a Sabbath, John 9.
In John 14 Jesus responding to Philip says, you do not know me after 3 years. By this time Jesus had performed many miracles and taught them much about God and yet they did not know who Jesus was. It was not until the Holy Spirit was given that they fully understood who Jesus was.
How can we imitate Christ in our forbearance of others? It starts by being filled with the spirit of Christ. Remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God, so some of us will be able to show more grace than others can. A times we also did not understand God’s way and had someone that encouraged us to follow him. As we grow in our faith it becomes our obligation to encourage others to follow God. Remember that people that have accepted Christ as lord and savior lived a life time before they were ready to receive him. It may take us years to help someone to accept Christ or it may be just a day. It is our loving forbearance that God can use to lead them to himself.
Are you showing the love for others as you need to as you imitate Christ?