The Importance of Forbearance

Ephesians 4:1 “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” (KJV)

For some reason I really heard the word “forbearance” tonight from the Holy Spirit. There are many other ways of saying the same thing. “Be patient with one another” or “bear with one another” but “forbear” just seems so much more serious. Perhaps because it has a sense of intention, as in foreshadow, forewarn, combined with the sense of picking up a burden and bearing it.

I think He reminded me of this passage because of something that happened at work. Sometimes even friends, coworkers, and family members that you love can drive you crazy. Perhaps they are doing something you REALLY wish they wouldn’t, or not doing something they SHOULD.

Perhaps you are in the right in the whole thing and you really want to point it out…

(and the thing is – if it’s a safety issue, you should! or a moral/ethical issue where you have spiritual back up, they should know about it! but if it’s a pet peeve…)

sometimes you have to back off and say, “okay. This is not part of a pattern. This one I’m going to let roll off my back because if we discuss this, it might lead to a big messy confrontation that will take time away from more important issues. This time, I’m going to forbear. In love.”

Some people might object. “You can’t bottle up your emotions! they will EXPLODE! all over the place!”

And I agree; if there’s a pattern you should definitely let that person know the danger.  But I find if I let the moment of frustration pass, often it will go away completely, and things will be even better.

If I am willing to be the lowly, meek, longsuffering one, God will meet me more than halfway with the patience to get through that situation.

You know why? Because He has always been the One forbearing with us in love. Because he is Grace itself.

He reached out to us even though we not only got on his nerves, we sinned all over the place! We are reckless, ridiculous sinners! He would have been justified to leave us out in the cold (or in the fire, if you prefer that image… being in Minnesota I find cold much more powerful this time of year…)

But he didn’t. He ignored our faults. He came that extra mile. He died for all of us. The more perfect don’t get better treatment; equal opportunity! He doesn’t look at our sin, he looks at our need for him.

And that’s really what we need to do. Look at the other person’s needs, not just our own.

“Right now I’m not going to think about the fact that you did X bad thing and said Y negative thing and did not help me with Z. I see that you need A, and I’m going to forbear X Y and Z and help you with your need, as God helped me with mine.”

Disclaimer: Don’t think I’m always very forbearing! I’m not. This is written out of the realization of my own struggles and needs. This is the lesson that God has put on my heart right now.

Hopefully it will speak to you as well.

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