The Spirit’s fruit of forbearance is much more than patience. It is choosing not to retaliate when wronged. It’s extending terms to benefit another, instead of demanding a justifiable immediate payment. Forbearance is the long suffering the Lord has towards sinners who need Him. He knows that time away from Him eventually loses its luster and appeal.
How can we develop forbearance?
We might be tempted to say when we encounter difficulties, “I don’t feel like tolerating this situation I’m in!” Well, it not about going with our feelings but rather going by faith and going by what the word says about us. The Lord is not unconcerned about our circumstances, but he has a way out if we are willing to follow him. What steps then can we follow to develop forbearance in our lives?
1. First we need to learn to die to self, to our own wishes, desires and sometimes even to our own needs. It not considering that oneself is worthless or without value. We are God’s creation and we are created in his image, thus we are already persons of great worth and value no matter what our status is in life. So recognizing the value and love that God has for us we commit our needs, wants and desires to him; letting him focus on those things while we focus on the tasks the Lord has assigned us.
3. We also need to approach the situation with love of God especially towards those who are may be causing of difficulties. There are more misguided than evil. Our gentile approached has the potential to change their attitude and bring them closer to God.
By demonstrating forbearance we are able to imitate the character of God and can bring about results in our lives and the lives of others that produce peace and reconciliation that will bring glory to Christ.
I read a really great article written by Swami Bodhinatha for a religious newspaper published in Mauritius, titled “Patience and Forbearance.” In it he gives examples of patience and how one can lead a cultured life by having self control, calmness and not reacting to difficult or challenging situations with anger, but rather acceptance. He also shares with us and gives examples on how to cultivate forbearance through forgiveness and forgetting. Forbearance is a step beyond patience. Modern life is fast-pased and stressful and therefore filled with opportunities to become impatient. A patient person faces these situations with calmness, self-control and lack of complaint. An impatient person on the other hand faces them with franticness, loss of self-control and lots of complaints. This is the difference between reacting to life in a cultured or a crude manner. An excellent key to maintaining patience is having the power of acceptance: accepting people as they are, accepting events as they are happening. That forestalls intolerance and impatience.
What is the benefit of forbearance? It is always good to endure injuries done to you, but to forget them is even better. Forbearance and non-retaliation are certainly the goal in all cases of mistreatment.
In conclusion, exercise patience, restraining intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances. Be agreeable. Let others behave according to their nature, without adjusting to you. Don’t argue, dominate conversations or interrupt others. Don’t be in a hurry. Be patient with children and the elderly. Minimize stress by keeping worries at bay. Remain poised in good times and bad.
May we all have patience and forbearance in abundance this Holiday and every day!