“I can’t take it! Can’t take it! Not another day! Not another day!”
Remember the commercial where that parrot repeats the words that he has repeatedly heard from his owner when he comes in the door? The owner likely is coming in from a long day at work where his nerves have been plucked repeatedly by his boss, coworkers, customers, or the like. People. You know the ones. Maybe these raw nerves have resulted from driving everyday in sprawl and crawl traffic with the bombarding sounds of horns, screeching tires, and angry and aggressive drivers. Hopefully, he is not a pastor coming home from a day spent with the church folk or someone who works every day with Christians! Imagine that. Whatever the cause, I’m thinking that you and I can relate to such a proclamation. Maybe you are at the point of proclaiming, “Lord, I just can’t take this anymore!” Maybe you have a less-than-loving husband, dishonoring children, financial issues, health issues, job issues, ministry issues, sibling issues, aging parent’s issues, et cetera. How do you keep it altogether when someone is constantly saying or doing unkind or mean things to you? When you have run out of cheeks to turn? When they have taken all of your coats and your cloaks, too? When you see no change on the horizon?
1. Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
The answer is simpler to say than to do, but it’s the only solution. You ask God to fill you and control you by the indwelling Holy Spirit and for Him to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in your life. You give Him more and more control of you. Remember, being filled with the Holy Spirit is not about getting more of Him, but it’s about you giving Him more of you (Ephesians 5:17-21).
In Galatians 5:22-23, there are nine characteristics or aspects of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. They are not nine separate fruits but one fruit with nine characteristics or aspects. Some call them attitudes. The origin of the fruit is in the name “fruit of the Spirit.” You see, the Holy Spirit produces the fruit and He uses various and sundry ways that are uniquely designed for each believer. Maybe the circumstances that have us proclaiming, “Lord I can’t take this!” are the very circumstances being used to conform us to the image of Christ and make us fruit bearers. Today, let’s meditate on one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, long suffering.
2. Bear Trials without Complaint
Makrothumia is the Greek word translated long suffering in Galatians 5:22 in the KJV and NKJV. It is translated patience in the NASB and forbearance in the NIV. Makros means long and thumos means temper. Long suffering means bearing trials without complaint. Many of us can say that we have been bearing trials, but honestly, have we done so without complaint? I stepped on my own foot with that! Donald Campbell in The Bible Knowledge Commentary writes that “Patience is the quality of forbearance under provocation.” He further writes that “It entertains no thoughts of retaliation even when wrongfully treated.” Now, you know that none of us need to be Bible scholars to draw the conclusion that this cannot be carried out without Divine intervention and control of the Holy Spirit.
I am a registered nurse, and I worked as a hemodialysis nurse for many years. Working with sick people who are experiencing pain and fears associated with the short and long-term impacts of illness on their lives can be a challenge. I have been cussed at, bitten, kicked, verbally threatened, and sometimes totally unappreciated for even performing life saving measures at the risk of my own well-being. Some would say, that as a nurse, I shouldn’t have problems dealing with that. That is a wrong conclusion to form because, as you know, nurses are humans, too. However, as a Christian nurse, I can give God the glory that in each of the cases of abuse towards me, I was given the strength from God not to retaliate in any way. I quoted scripture, prayed (quickly, I may add), and by the grace of God yielded to the Spirit of God. I recall that my unsaved coworkers expected a godly response (fruit) from me–the Christian–even though they may have personally responded differently…
Long suffering implies endurance. The Holy Spirit not only enables the believer to endure repeated or prolonged unfavorable circumstances, but also to actually exhibit the total opposite of what the flesh response would be: lashing out at others, anger, complaints, retaliations, and other ungodly attitudes and actions. In long suffering, there is an attitude of cooperation with the will of God in one’s life no matter the difficulty. Leave the difficult person or circumstance in God’s hands. Focus on your response. It’s quite an incredible thought that if we are filled with–controlled by–the Spirit of God, He will absolutely produce such fruit in us. Amazing!
3. Look to Jesus as Your Example
A closing thought…Jesus Christ Himself showed us a pattern of this makrothumia (see 1 Timothy 1:16). In 1 Peter 2:23 we see that “…when He was reviled, did not revile in return, when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”