BibleTools

Topical Studies

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Printer-Friendly          E-mail this page


Bible verses about Forbearance
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Have we made forbearance a part of our character? We often think we are forbearing, and we may not be. The basic dictionary definition of forbearance is "refraining from the enforcement of something." Refraining from the enforcement of something could be a debt, a right we have, an obligation that has come due and needs to be paid, etc. This is a legal-sounding definition.

The idea of forbearance arises in the Bible under different words. Forbearance could be explained as showing patience, even though a thing is owed to us. It is holding back or restraining the self from doing something that is normal to do. It is controlling oneself when provoked or offended. Its synonyms show us some of the nuances of forbearance: "patience," "leniency." Leniency does not mean that one allows something to continue. A more strict definition is that one does not give the full punishment for something or the full amount of something. You still exact justice, but it is not as harsh as it could be.

Another synonym is "tolerance." There are levels of tolerance. One can tolerate a person and not tolerate what he has done. One could forbear with him while he is trying to repent. Another is "self-restraint," which is holding back the self from doing a thing that one may come to regret. Another synonym is "command of temper." Do we lash out when something happens, rather than control ourselves? "Endurance" and "longsuffering" are also synonymous to "forbearance." Even "clemency" can be used for "forbearance," as it occurs in the New King James at least once or twice. Yet another term is "mildness," suggesting that one is mild rather than harsh in judgment or reaction. Another synonym would be "mercy" or "merciful," as well as the word "pardon." All these are synonyms of forbearance that give us an idea, a glimpse, into how broad the application of forbearance is.

Several Hebrew words are translated "forbear" or "forbearance" or "forbearing" in the Old Testament, but they all have similar meanings. They run from "to keep silent or to be still," "to stop or leave off doing something," "to withhold from," or "to spare another." Another means "to draw or to stretch out" or "to prolong," for instance, as in prolonging, drawing out, or stretching out another's period of grace to repay a debt. Another one means "to contain or hold in," as in self-restraint. One holds in what he feels like doing; he restrains himself from lashing out at another.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

The Greek words for forbearance mean much the same as the Hebrew and English words. The virtue of forbearance is seemingly consistent throughout language. Most languages appear to contain an idea of this—of holding back and enduring, of being patient.

The word anecho means "to hold the self back; self-restraint; to delay punishment (in a more legal sense); a suspension of punishment until the proper time."

Another word, aniemi, means "to send away or back" or "to allow to go away." The idea is that, if somebody does something wrong, one allows them to go away without what is due to them. Such a person seems to be getting away with his crime by one allowing them to go away, but it is just a suspension of their punishment. One is being lenient, showing clemency or a disposition to be merciful.

A third Greek word is pheidomai, which means "to refrain or to abstain; to hold oneself back again."

Yet another is stego. It sounds like "stegosaurus," right? Stego means "to cover; to conceal, or protect." The stegosaurus is best known for the large, bony plates that grew out of its spine covering its back, as well as its long tail covered with spikes. Stegosaurus means "covered or protected lizard."

Perhaps the best known Greek word for the concept of forbearance, one that is often translated "longsuffering," is makrothumia. Makrothumia means "patient, enduring, bearing with another or a circumstance."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Genesis 20:17-18   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

How long did God forbear with converted Abraham? We are talking about the "father of the faithful"! Verse 17 takes place after everything was all cleared up between him and Abimelech.

How long did it take them to notice that all the women in Abimelech's house were barren? At least a couple months. God did not strike him down for his lie. He gave Abraham a chance to repent, to confess both to God and Abimelech what the truth was, but he never did it. So finally God stepped in, giving Abimelech a dream that told him he was keeping His prophet's wife, and he had better give her back.

Notice God's forbearance. Not only did He do this over a long time, but He kept Abimelech from defiling Sarah. He also kept Abimelech from killing Abraham for lying to the king. God worked everything out. It could have been an awful situation. Isaac might never have lived, because Isaac is not born until the next chapter. God also shows His forbearance with Sarah - call her "the mother of the faithful" - because she was in on the lie. Yet, she is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as one of the heroes of faith.

Perhaps the most astounding fact is that this was the second time that it had happened! Genesis 12:10-20 records that the same thing occurred between Abraham and Pharaoh fifteen or twenty years earlier. How long did God forbear with Abraham? Fifteen or twenty years! He had given Abraham a couple of decades to repent of this sin, but he did not do it - so God tested him again. Eventually, Abraham did repent, but there was a fifteen- or twenty-year period in which God forbore with him in this problem to help him grow in character.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Exodus 34:5-8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God expounds eleven attributes: YHWH, El, the Merciful One, the Gracious One, the Longsuffering One, the Mighty One, the Kind and Loving One, the True One, the One who Preserves Kindness, the Forgiving One, and the Chastising One.

God gives Moses, not so much a vision of His power and majesty, but of His love, of how He relates to His creation. The real glory of God is His character, His nature, especially toward His children. His names are signposts of His nature, reminders of what we can expect Him to do as we live by faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 34:5   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God was preaching him a sermon on what He is. The names of God describe Him. They tell us what God is, what He does, and what He will do for us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Exodus 34:6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When God passes before Moses, He preaches him a sermon on His attributes, fulfilling the proclamation of His name. Patience is a major characteristic of our God, and that should fill us with gratitude.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience


 

Exodus 34:6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God bears long and is slow to anger. Longsuffering is proof of God's goodness, faithfulness, and His desire to grant us salvation. Romans 2:4 describes God as forbearing and longsuffering. Forbearance is refraining from the enforcement of something that is due like a debt, right, or obligation. Longsuffering differs slightly in that its emphasis is on temperament.

Martin G. Collins
Longsuffering


 

2 Samuel 12:15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This is the story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah the Hittite. Should God have struck David down as soon as he committed adultery? It could have started even earlier, when David looked at her while she was naked in the rooftop bathtub. Or was it after he planned with Joab to kill Uriah on the frontline? Or was it after the dirty deed was done, when Uriah was actually dead? God did not step in at any of those times. Do we realize how long He waited?

II Samuel 12:15 says that Nathan departed to his house, and the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bore. The whole period of gestation went by before Nathan came and said to David, "You've sinned." How far had David fallen from grace during this nine-month period since he had committed adultery? He had conspired to kill. He had actually not done the dirty deed himself, but it was attributed to him. Then he had taken Bathsheba as his wife.

Notice in II Samuel 11:27 that God had already imputed the evil to him; He had judged the matter. "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." This is a terrible translation. The margin has it more correctly: "But the thing that David had done was evil in the eyes of the Lord." God calls a spade a spade, but He forbore to inflict the penalty for an important reason, which is found in Psalm 51. What did God's forebearance produce in David?

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. (Psalm 51:1-4)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. (Psalm 51:10-13)

What did this episode produce in David? Repentance for sure, and tremendous growth in character. It produced Psalm 51 itself, which is a major piece of writing in all the history of the world. How many countless people has it taught repentance and the building of character? God had greater purposes here than merely punishing transgression. Remember, David did not get away with this, because when Nathan came to him, he said, "From this time on your house is going to have problems, buddy. You're not getting away with this sin. It's going to follow you for the rest of your days, and your childrens' and your grandchildrens'." If the throne of England is any witness to this, the punishment is still falling on David's house. There are problems in the family of David that frequently show up in sexual problems and war. They have terrible dynastic squabbles.

If God blasted everyone at the first sign of sin, we would never have the chance to build character. No one would ever make it into God's Kingdom. We would all be just oil spots on the road. We would never have the chance to repent and say, "God, I was wrong. Lead me in the right way. Please don't take your Holy Spirit from me. If you allow me to live, I'll teach sinners not to do as I have done."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Ecclesiastes 7:20-22   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"Others" here is referring to another person; it could even refer to a stranger. What Solomon is giving us in this section (verses 15-29) is counsel for balanced living.

Verse 20 shows that no one on earth does what is right all the time, never making a mistake. It is the character of a just man to do good, but that is not what always happens.

Then verse 21 begins with the word "also," which means "in addition," "likewise," "too," "in like manner," and "furthermore," suggesting that verses 21-22 continue the thought of verse 20. In just about every situation, sin is involved. Either we have sinned or others have sinned against us—or both.

Solomon advises us not to pay attention to or take to heart everything people say, even if we hear an employee or someone under our authority insulting us—because we know that we have insulted other people many times.

Understanding the word "curse" is important here. It does not mean "to invoke or bring evil or misfortune upon" or "to damn." It is the Hebrew word qalal, which means "to make light, trifling, bring into contempt, abate." Our English word abate means "to make less," "to reduce in quantity, value, degree, or intensity," "to beat down," and even "to deprive."

These verses do not give specific examples of what might have been said. Perhaps it was a defaming remark, an unwarranted comment, an angry threat, a joke at another's expense, or deliberate untruths. What was said is ultimately unimportant.

Baptist commentator John Gill (1697-1771) writes in his Exposition of the Old Testament on verse 21:

Seeing so it is, that imperfection attends the best of men, no man is wise at all times, foolish words and unguarded expressions will sometimes drop from him, which it is better to take no notice of; they should not be strictly attended to, and closely examined, since they will not bear it. A man should not listen to everything that is said of himself or others; he should not curiously inquire what men say of him; and what he himself hears he should take no notice of; it is often best to let it pass, and not call it over again; to feign the hearing of a thing, or make as if you did not hear it; for oftentimes, by rehearsing a matter, or taking up words spoken, a deal of trouble and mischief follows.

In the face of provocation, the true quality of self-restraint is displayed in our ability to take it patiently with forbearance and longsuffering. A person who is longsuffering is not quick to retaliate or promptly punish someone who has insulted, offended, or harmed him.

Ted E. Bowling
Sticks and Stones


 

Joel 2:13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God relents from doing harm. His longsuffering is seen in His gracious restraint of His wrath towards those who deserve it. Despite the rebellious condition of the world, He waited patiently for 120 years while Noah built the ark and gathered the animals. God's longsuffering does not overlook anything. Unlike man, God has the end in view. He has true insight, knows what is best, and is not swayed by human emotions.

Martin G. Collins
Longsuffering


 

Matthew 5:7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

English language dictionaries are of limited help in understanding this mercy's biblical usage. In English "mercy" is normally used to mean showing compassion, forbearance, pity, sympathy, forgiveness, kindness, tenderheartedness, or liberality or refraining from harming or punishing offenders or enemies. These synonyms give us some insight on this word; they all express how a merciful person might act. However, none of them specifically pictures what biblical mercy is because the scriptural concept is virtually untranslatable into a single English word.

The Greek word used in Matthew 5:7, eleemon, means essentially the same as its English counterpart, "merciful." However, in all likelihood Jesus spoke in Aramaic, and the idea behind His statement about mercy come from Old Testament—that is, Hebrew—usage and teaching. The word He would have used is the Hebrew and Aramaic chesed.

William Barclay's Daily Study Bible commentary on Matthew states regarding this word:

It does not mean only to sympathize with a person in the popular sense of the term; it does not mean simply to feel sorry for some in trouble. Chesedh [sic], mercy, means the ability to get right inside the other person's skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings.

Clearly this is much more than an emotional wave of pity; clearly this demands a quite deliberate effort of the mind and of the will. It denotes a sympathy which is not given, as it were, from outside, but which comes from a deliberate identification with the other person, until we see things as he sees them, and feel things as he feels them. This is sympathy in the literal sense of the word. Sympathy is derived from two Greek words, syn which means together with, and paschein which means to experience or to suffer. Sympathy means experiencing things together with the other person, literally going through what he is going through. (p. 103)

Much easier said than done! Having a sense of another's feelings to this degree is very difficult to do because we are normally so self-concerned, so aware of our own feelings, that sensitivity for others to this depth often requires a great effort of the will. Normally, when we feel sorry for someone, it is an exclusively external act because we do not make the effort to get inside another's mind and heart until we can see and feel things as he does. It is not easy to walk in another person's shoes.

The world, from which we have all come, is true to its nature; it is unmerciful. The world prefers to insulate itself against the pains and calamities of others. It finds revenge delicious and forgiveness tame and unsatisfying.

This is where we all begin. Indeed, all too often in the church, worldliness is hardly dormant, revealing itself in acts that show some degree of cruelty. Usually, these cruelties are delivered verbally, but all too frequently, brethren simply ignore the real needs of others.

The mercy Jesus teaches is not humanly derived. He says in Matthew 6:14, "If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you." This occurs, not because we can merit mercy by being merciful or forgiving of others, but because we cannot receive the mercy and forgiveness of God unless we repent. We cannot claim to have repented of our sins if we are unmerciful towards the sins of others.

The truly merciful are too aware of their own sins to deal with others in sharp condemnation, so they constrain themselves to deal humbly and kindly with those in need. Nothing moves us to forgive others like the amazing realization that God has forgiven our sins. Mercy in God's children begins by experiencing His forgiveness of them, and perhaps nothing proves more convincingly that we have been forgiven than our readiness to forgive.

Recognizing God's mercy is a key element in motivating our expressions of mercy. Too many people today, even in the church, possess a "welfare mentality." They go through life with little or no gratitude, thinking they deserve the handouts of governments or private citizens. Ingratitude is vital to understanding this because, as long as one is unthankful, his thoughts will center on himself. The merciful person is sensitive to others' needs and takes action to supply them. An ungrateful person, though, insulates himself from others' pains because he is too focused on his own perceived miseries.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 5: Blessed Are the Merciful


 

Matthew 5:44   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We might think for a moment, "Who are our enemies?" Many of us believe we have no enemies. However, an enemy might be someone we thought was a friend, a family member with a long-held grudge, or even a brother or sister in Christ. An enemy can be someone we feel does not like us and has hurt or mistreated us. Whether we consider them enemies or not, there is no denying their hostility. In the same verse, Jesus goes on to expand His list of hostiles: "Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."

We have probably all been through this particular trial and test as we grow to love one another as brethren. The church is just like a big family, where people can be hurt or feel mistreated in one way or another. Conflicts, misunderstandings, and slights—real or imagined—occur in every group of human beings, Christian or not.

It is very difficult to "love," "bless," "do good," and "pray" for a person who has hurt us deeply. It goes against our human nature to behave positively toward someone we feel deserves shame, censure, and punishment! Putting this principle into practice is a high hurdle for any Christian to clear.

Yet, as Christians, we know that forgiveness is one of the keys that Jesus taught for healing. Not only is it a teaching—it is also a command. Christ admonishes us to keep this charge in His model prayer in Matthew 6:12: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Alternatively, it could be said, "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us" (see Luke 11:4).

Jesus comments further on this in Matthew 6:14-15: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

In Matthew 18:21-22, we find another example: "Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." In other words, we must always be willing to forgive a brother.

Staff
The Tongue: Our Tool of Power


 

Matthew 18:26-34   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We desire others—especially God—to be patient and forgiving toward us in our faults, but do we practice the same attitude and conduct toward those whose faults offend us? Patience is a two-way street, and God clearly demands reciprocity. He expects us to pass His patience and forgiveness toward us on to others even as Christ did.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience


 

Matthew 25:34-40   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When we show pity, compassion, and kindness to those in difficult straits, we are practicing the merciful attitude that God expects each of His children to exhibit at all times. Of course, He does not want us to be so soft-hearted that we become an easy mark for those who would take advantage of us, but He does want us to develop a keen sense of discernment that realizes when mercy is a better option than the strict application of rules.

Undoubtedly, each of us would lend a helping hand to another who was in physical need, but there are other situations in which a physical need is not apparent that also require us to extend mercy. Particularly, we need to learn to employ mercy in our dealings with each other on a daily basis. To put it into today's language, everyone has bad-hair days, and on some days, even a normally lovable person can be very difficult to live with.

Age differences lend themselves to misunderstandings. We may still carry prejudices that rear their ugly heads from time to time, causing friction. Oftentimes, we just do not think before we speak. Mistakes made in the past can seem to hang over us like a cloud and never go away, and thus we do not feel forgiven, affecting our attitudes. And of course, we all have different backgrounds and came from situations in which we perhaps lived our lives in certain shameful ways. Each of these problems can ignite trouble with our closest family members and friends.

The problem that all of us face in making righteous judgments is that we cannot see into the other person's heart; we do not really know their intentions and attitudes. We have a hard enough time understanding ourselves, let alone someone else! In Jesus' comments about judgment in His Sermon on the Mount, He cautions us about being too critical: "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:3). Therefore, if we have to make a judgment call, it is far better to lean toward patience, forbearance, and mercy.

So, when we find ourselves offended by anyone, rather than responding in kind, we should apply the principle of giving a soft answer (Proverbs 15:1), turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), and extending tender mercies (Colossians 3:12).

Satan would like us to hang on to evil thoughts about another, to hold a grudge against a brother, or to arrive at church with a resentful attitude toward a fellow Christian, but Jesus Christ wants us to remember Matthew 18:35: "So My heavenly Father will [pass judgment against] you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." Just as He forgave each of us from the heart, He wants us to learn to forgive others in the same generous, merciful way.

In my forty-plus years in the church, I have made almost all of the mistakes a person can make with his mouth, and realizing this, I have truly appreciated those who have extended mercy and forgiveness to me. They have taught me a great lesson by their spiritual maturity: that I, too, had better extend mercy and kindness to others.

What does God require of us? He tells us plainly in Micah 6:8: "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"

John O. Reid
Mercy: The Better Option


 

Luke 18:6-7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Scholars seem to have a hard time with the clause "though He bears long with them." What it probably means is, "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He delays His response to them?" He restrains His response; He holds it back from them for a little while.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

John 13:14   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The common explanation for this is that it teaches us to learn humility by doing good for others, by doing acts of service or kindness for our brethren. This is certainly a good lesson that we can take from Christ's example, but we can perhaps derive another from it.

In John's account, what did Jesus suggest that the washing of feet symbolized? He tells Peter that the washing of his feet symbolizes forgiveness of his sin to return him to a "clean" relationship with God. It is only logical to deduce that God expects nothing less from us in response to the sins of our brethren. In the section of the Sermon on the Mount on prayer, Jesus says: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15).

No doubt, God puts a very great emphasis on our relationships since our lives are to reflect His character. If we have begun to "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27), would we be a good example of His love for us if we held grudges, hated our brother, or would not forgive another? Obviously, no. Putting on Christ demands that we "put off" these carnal destroyers of relationships and replace them with Christian virtues.

Peter asks Christ, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" (Matthew 18:21). Christ's answer should give us a clue to how He feels about this issue. Peter had ventured a number he thought would be sufficient to establish his forbearance. Christ, though, pulls out all the stops, telling him that there is no set limit: "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (verse 22). We are indeed fortunate and can be thankful that same unlimited forgiveness applies to us when we need God's mercy.

The following verses, Matthew 18:23-35, is the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. The servant was deeply in debt to his master, and when he sought relief, his master forgave him his gargantuan debt. Then the tables turn. Another man owed him a small amount and could not repay it. Instead of following his master's example, the servant forgot the mercy he had just received and had the man thrown into prison!

Verses 34-35 sum up the story: "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." The language Christ uses leaves little room for exclusions. He Himself, in the agony of crucifixion, says without reservation, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34). His plea applies, not only to those who cried out for His death and nailed Him to the stake, but to all, past and future, who would be just as responsible as they were and need God's forgiveness. That includes everybody.

Bill Keesee (1935-2010)
Another Look at Footwashing


 

Acts 17:30   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God overlooked, tolerated, or bore with it because of, in this case, our ignorance. God made excuses, as it were, to Himself to restrain Himself from striking out. This is, of course, bringing God down to a human level so we can understand. This is the kind of language Paul and Luke used to allow us to grasp the fact that God bore with us. We have to learn to do the same toward others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 8): Ephesians 4 (E)


 

Romans 3:21-26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God can forbear with us because Jesus Christ came to this earth and died for all of us. If we repent and ask God forgiveness, then Christ's blood covers all of our sins. Justice has been done. The sin has been paid for by the blood of Christ. God can thus forbear with us and allow us to "get away" with our sins for a while, because if we repent, then Jesus Christ's blood covers our sins, and justice is done. A person died for those sins—our Creator, Jesus Christ.

But if we do not repent, what happens? We die, and the penalty is paid. So this is a kind of legal maneuver by God. His forbearance is allowed under His legal system because Jesus Christ's blood pays the penalty for our sins. He can be merciful and lenient for a while, and whether we repent, or whether we do not repent, justice is ultimately served because a death occurs—either Jesus' or ours. This is the legal basis for why He can be forbearing. He has already taken care of it, one way or the other.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Romans 3:25   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

One translation of this verse renders the last phrase, "sins that are past, through the forbearance of God," as "for the remission of sins during the time that He withheld His hand." Picture a father whose children are misbehaving, and he pulls back his hand to cuff them, yet he withholds it. This is what God means. He was ready to strike out at us because of our sins, but He withheld His hand during that time. It is as if He stopped Himself. He had every reason to strike out, but He did not, mercifully. It is a vivid picture. Any parent can relate to it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 8): Ephesians 4 (E)


 

1 Corinthians 13:7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Do we love the brethren enough to bear with them? By using the word stego (meaning "cover, conceal, protect"), Paul means that it is an act of godly love when we keep silent about unfavorable matters; when we restrain ourselves from talking about somebody else's sin; when we delay judgment and keep our brother's reputation in tact; when we keep a sin or a fault "hush, hush" between us and the walls, as it were, so the person has time to repent and to recover from it. We need to be careful not to let any of our brothers' sins become a source of mockery toward the church because we "let the cat out of the bag" and gossiped.

There are peoples' sins and faults that we should take with us to the grave, as Paul says about the man in Corinth: "These things shouldn't even be talked about. Shut up. Keep it to yourself. Cover that person's sin in love." Love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8). Do we love our brother enough to give him a chance to repent? God does. Why can't we?

Such a rush to condemnation causes the church to fly apart! Rather than have the forbearance to allow our brethren to repent, we just want to kick them out, and as quickly as possible. Or, we want to shun them, saying, "Go to some other group. We can't stand you anymore." Why can we not be a little bit more forbearing, as God is? He takes the time to let these matters work out. We need to show a little bit of love, as Paul advises, "Let brotherly love continue" (Hebrews 13:1).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

2 Corinthians 12:6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What Paul is saying is, "I'm going to restrain myself. I will abstain from boasting, but I will tell the truth, that God gave me a vision of the third heaven." He is letting them know that he has superior knowledge and understanding, but he says, "I will refrain from boasting and just give you the truth of it." The application to us is that Paul forebore so that he would not cause offense. He refrained or abstained.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Galatians 5:22   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The second of the three fruits most directly associated with personal, human relationships is kindness. The translators of the King James Version render this Greek word as "gentleness." Even though gentleness is an aspect of being kind, this choice does not adequately describe the qualities the original word implies.

When Paul illustrated how love acts, patience leaped into his mind first: "Love suffers long" (I Corinthians 13:4). Immediately following, he writes, "and is kind," giving the impression that love and kindness belong together to such an extent that we can conclude that without kindness no act is truly done in love!

Patience is love forbearing. Patience suggests self-restraint under the pressure of provocation, especially undeserved provocation. Kindness, though, implies a more active expression of love toward God and fellow man. Both patience and kindness are bound in the one quality—love. Those who provoke us may never notice patient love, but patient love may reveal itself in acts of kindness so that even our provokers are positively impressed. Kindness is such a rare quality these days that when someone is kind, it has a good chance of making the news!

The love Paul expounds in I Corinthians 13 is the love of God, which found its perfectly balanced expression in Jesus Christ. His love was not only contemplative but also outgoing. Because of His love, He went about doing acts of kindness, healing, and casting out demons (Acts 10:38). The truth He preached also expressed His love. His love was not merely congeniality; it was patient, enduring, and ethical.

In most cases, kindness is not beyond any of us because it usually costs no money. It may take the sacrifice of time and energy. It may require the discipline to be thoughtful of others' needs and to make the effort to act. How much is required to cultivate smiling rather than frowning? to pay a visit? to say a word of encouragement or comfort? to show friendliness by warmly and sincerely shaking hands?

The consequences of kindness are incalculable, for such a spirit can ripple out to touch the lives of those far removed from the original act. Kindness sows the seeds that can only bear good fruit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness


 

Galatians 5:22   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Various translations use "longsuffering," "patience," or "forbearance" to translate the Greek word makrothumia. This word combines the roots makro, meaning "long," and thumos, meaning "temper," so it literally means "to be long-tempered." It implies the opposite of "short temper," describing the mind holding back a long time before it expresses itself in action or passion. Makrothumia is rarely rendered as "patience" and never as "forbearance" in the New Testament, although both words are considered synonyms of "longsuffering."

Martin G. Collins
Longsuffering


 

Ephesians 4:2-3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

With admonitions like these, we step into the intimate personal relationships within a congregation or family. They show that unity depends more upon the exercise of the members' moral qualities than the structure of the institution. Paul shows in Ephesians that the life we are called to live is characterized by five qualities: humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and love, the last of which embraces the preceding four and is the crown of all virtues. Each of these qualities enables us to act in mercy and live at peace. God's Spirit empowers us to use these qualities to overcome the ill will and the bitter, passionate rages that lead to clamorous slander, destroying reputations.

Such ill will and rage hardly promote kindness, compassion, and acting in grace toward each other. "Acting in grace" is an acceptable translation of the Greek word, charizomai, rendered "forgiving" in Ephesians 4:32. Acting in grace catches the essence of how God has acted toward us and our sin against Him. And because He has forgiven us, we are commanded to forgive each other (Colossians 3:13).

Mercy begins with the way we feel about or toward each other and moves toward merciful acts. God loves us and has an outgoing concern for us. If God so loves us, then we ought to love each other (I John 4:11). Thus, we are bound to forbear with one another and act kindly, in mercy. Anybody focused on himself as the center of the universe will have a difficult time thinking kindly of others, and unity will be difficult, if not impossible. It is no wonder, then, why so much divorce occurs, as well as division in other areas of life. A focus on the self does not allow much room for humble, kind, and compassionate thoughts of service for others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 5: Blessed Are the Merciful


 

Ephesians 4:2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The overall instruction here has to do with keeping the unity of the faith. Paul names four characteristics of conduct that are "attractively adorning" in two sets of two. The first two go together closely like bread and butter, and the second two go together. All four of them are linked, but the traits within the two pairs are most closely related to each other.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 6): Ephesians 4 (C)


 

Ephesians 4:2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

With all means "with every possible lowliness," "with every kind of lowliness," or "in all situations," or "at all times." In other words, always wear the apron of humility wherever one is, whatever one is doing, whoever one is dealing with, whatever the time happens to be. We should never be without it because it will serve us and God and unity well. It will never divide; it will always cement and hold the group, the family, the community together.

This is to be a fundamental element of our character. We may feel we have something to be proud of. For some, it might be money or ancestry or family. It might be brains, looks, athletic ability, or in the church, our understanding of doctrine. We have to be careful because human nature is always looking for a way to assert what it is proud of and to display it, and this causes division.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 7): Ephesians 4 (D)


 

Ephesians 4:2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Forbearance is a vital part of agape love. Paul's immediate change of subject in verse 3 indicates that by bearing with one another in love, unity of the Spirit is produced. Very interesting and helpful for us today.

Forbearance in love produces unity. When we see disunity and scattering, we can be sure that someone has thrown out forbearance, love, and humility, which the apostle had mentioned earlier. When these virtues are absent, the church goes to the four winds because the members cannot put up with each other. They find reasons to be offended, and they scatter.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Ephesians 4:17-32   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Most of us realize that the unity of the church of God courses through the book of Ephesians as a general theme. Paul illustrates the church as a complete body of which Jesus, though in heaven, is the Head, and the elect here on earth comprise the rest of it. Early on, Paul declares how God has planned the organization of His purpose from the very beginning, determining whom He would call, give His Spirit to, and perfect as His children.

In Ephesians 4, the apostle begins to clarify our Christian responsibilities regarding works. He appeals to us in verse 1 to make every effort to live a manner of life that measures up to the magnificence of our high calling. He then makes sure we understand that we must carry out our responsibilities in humility, kindness, and forbearance as we strive to maintain doctrinal accord in purity.

He explains that Christ has given each of us gifts to meet our responsibilities in maintaining the unity of God's church. Foremost among these gifts are teachers who will work to equip us for service in the church and eventually in the Kingdom. This same process will enable us to grow to completion, to mature, no longer wavering in our loyalties, certain in the direction of our lives, and not deceived by the craftiness of men.

With that foundation, the "therefore" in verse 17 draws our focus to the practical applications necessary to meet the standards of the preceding spiritual concepts. We must not conduct our lives as the unconverted do. They are blinded to these spiritual realities and so conduct life in ignorance, following the lusts of darkened minds.

Because we are being educated by God, the standards of conduct are established by His truths and are therefore exceedingly higher. We must make every effort to throw off the works of carnality and strive to acquire a renewed mind through diligent, continuous effort so that we can be created in the image of God in true righteousness and holiness (verse 24).

In verses 25-29, Paul moves even further from generalities to clear, specific works that we must do. We must speak truth so that we do not injure another through lies, as well as to maintain unity. Because deceit produces distrust, unity cannot be maintained if lying occurs. We must not allow our tempers to flare out of control, for they serve as an open door for Satan to create havoc.

We must be honest, earning our way so that we are prepared to give to others who are in need. We must be careful that what we speak is not only true but also edifying, imparting encouragement, empathy, sympathy, exhortation, and even gentle correction when needed.

In verse 30 is a brief and kind reminder that, in doing our works we must never forget that we owe everything to our indwelling Lord and Master. We must make every effort to be thankful, acknowledging Him as the Source of all gifts and strengths, enabling us to glorify Him through our works.

In the final two verses of the chapter, Paul delineates specific responsibilities concerning our attitudes toward fellow Christians within personal relationships.

This brief overview of just one chapter shows clearly how much works enter into a Christian's life as practical requirements that cannot be passed off as unnecessary. How else will a Christian glorify God? How else will he grow to reflect the image of God? How else will he fulfill God's command to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19) except by faithfully doing those works that lead to life?

Through the whole process of sanctification, the Christian will make constant use of two additional works: daily prayer and Bible study, which must be combined with his efforts to obey God. No one who is careless about performing these works can expect to make progress growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ during sanctification.

Why? Without them, he will have no relationship with either the Father or the Son, and thus will not be enabled to achieve the required works. They are the Source of the powers that make it possible for us to do the works God has ordained. If we do not follow through on these two works, we will surely hear ourselves called "wicked and lazy" and be cast into "outer darkness" where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:24-30).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Four)


 

Philippians 4:5   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The New King James translates this literally. The margin, however, reads: "Let your forbearance or graciousness be known to all men." Let it shine. Why? "The Lord is at hand."

This is a Book written to us! We are coming upon the absolute worst time in human history, and Paul left us a note from nearly two thousand years ago, telling us that this time, as it was in the days of Noah, is the time to exhibit forbearance to all men. Forbearance should be on the top of our list of virtues that we want to include in our character. We should let our gentleness, graciousness, forbearance be known to all men, especially at the end. Squabbles, fights, and offenses only make things that much worse in this terrible era of human history.

Among us there should be peace and unity. If anyone is to be seen showing love and forbearance for one another, it should be God's church - and lately, in the past decade, we have failed the forbearance test. It does not mean we must put up with evil for long, but that we give others a chance to change. If they fail to change, then matters must be worked out so that there will be peace. But we have to start with forbearance.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

Colossians 3:12-13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

As the elect of God, we must put on or clothe ourselves with longsuffering. By doing this in unity as a church, we rid ourselves of, or at least dramatically reduce, friction. To be loving and effective, a minister must correct, rebuke, and encourage with longsuffering.

Martin G. Collins
Longsuffering


 

1 Timothy 1:12-16   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul uses himself to exemplify the great magnitude of Christ's patience toward us. "Longsuffering" strongly implies forbearance under great duress. As Paul describes it, he had not just sinned in blaspheming and inflicting injury on the saints, but he had done his deeds with a proud, haughty, arrogant, and insolent spirit. He acted in a wicked, malicious, violent way—a spirit of tyranny that greatly aggravated the wrong he did. Other translations render insolent as "insulter," "insolent foe," "oppressor," "wanton aggressor," "doer of outrage," and "wanton outrage."

Paul's aim is to magnify Christ's patience and forgiveness as an example to himself and his audience. The apostle followed Christ's example by in turn exercising patience toward the church. Considering his own circumstance, he undoubtedly felt strongly about this because Christ's forbearance with him opened salvation to him. In response, he passes it on to Timothy and so to us.

In II Timothy 4:2-3, Paul exhorts the evangelist to use this virtue that means so much to our salvation:

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience


 

2 Peter 3:15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

That God is longsuffering or forbearing with us means that we are able to have salvation. It will not happen any other way. If He were not longsuffering with us, there would be no salvation. We could never please Him with our miserable works, and our sins would qualify us only to be grease spots on the road. "The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation." We had better be glad that God is patient, that He will take the time to work with us, however long it may take, so that we can be in His Kingdom and grow in His character.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 

 




The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 115,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.

Email Address:

   

We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.
Printer-Friendly          E-mail this page
 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
©Copyright 1992-2014 Church of the Great God.   Contact C.G.G. if you have questions or comments.