Definition: The Greek word "makrothumos" translates the Hebrew phrase "slow to anger" in Nahum 1:3("The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet"),and provides added insights into God's longsuffering." Makrothumos is derived from makros meaning long and thumos meaning wrath or anger, which is literally a "long anger." ( Ex 34:6, Nu 14:18, Neh 9:17, Ps 86:15, Ps 145:8Joel 2:13Jonah 4:2 )
It is also defined as "patience, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs" (THAYER)
"Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish. It is the opposite of anger and is associated with mercy, and is used of God." (VINE)
Makrothumos emphasizes God's restraint even in the face of actions and circumstances that plainly arouse His holy wrath. God remains controlled even when confronted with arrogant, bold faced provocation! God's longsuffering is not only slow to anger but also slow to punish! It is interesting to note that longsuffering is the first quality mentioned in Paul's definition of "love" - " Love is patient (makrothumeo, the verb form)..." ( 1Co 13:4 - note )
· Longsuffering is part of his character. Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
Numbers 14:18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
Psalms 86:15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
I. EXAMPLES OF LONGSUFFERING
A. THE LONGSUFFERING OF GOD... 1. God has been longsuffering toward man a. He was in the days of Noah - 1Pe 3:20 b. He was in His dealings with the nation of Israel - Neh 9: 16-21 c. And He is longsuffering today as well - 2Pe 3:7-9; e.g., 1Ti 1:15-16 2. The purpose of His longsuffering: a. That we might have salvation! - 2Pe 3:15 b. That we might be led to repentance! - Ro 2:4 c. That those who fear Him and keep His commandments might delight in His lovingkindness, even though they have sinned Ps 103:8-18
II. THE NECESSITY OF LONGSUFFERING
A. NECESSARY IF WE WISH GOD TO BE LONGSUFFERING TO US... 1. As Jesus illustrated in "The Parable Of The Unmerciful Servant" Mt 18:32-35 2. Compare also the following verses: Col 3:12-13 a. Christ has forgiven us b. Therefore we must be longsuffering and willing to forgive one another!
B. NECESSARY TO MAINTAINING THE Harmony OF THE SPIRIT... 1. An undertaking we face, in keeping with a walk that is worthy of our calling - Ep 4:1-3 2. Without longsuffering, the sins we commit against one another will quickly destroy the unity for which Christ died!
C. NECESSARY FOR PREACHERS AND TEACHERS OF THE GOSPEL... 1. As Paul charged Timothy - 2Ti 4:2 2. As Paul had demonstrated by example - 2Ti 3:10 3. No servant of the Lord can faithfully correct those in opposition, without the quality of longsuffering (patience in the NKJV) - 2Ti 2:24-26
III. DEVELOPING LONGSUFFERING
A. THROUGH LOVE... 1. It is love that "suffers long" - 1Co 13:4-8a a. Unless we love those who have wronged us, there will not be sufficient motivation to bear with them b. Therefore love is fundamental to being slow to avenge wrong 2. By growing in love ( 1Th 4:9; 1Jn 3:16 ), we will grow in patience!
B. THROUGH PRAYER... 1. Paul clearly believed prayer would help the Colossians to have "all patience and longsuffering with joy" - Col 1:9-11 2. Certainly the God who is longsuffering ( Ps 145:8 ) will strengthen those who desire to be like Him!