The verse I would like to reference, first off, along this topic, is 1 Corinthians 13, verses 4 – 7, which addresses the topic of what does the God kind of love [Agape] look like:
Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.
You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
Now mind you, this is exactly the way God deals with each one of us, and aren’t we called in Scripture to put on the mind of Christ (Php 2:5).
Out of necessity, in order for us (as Christians) to put on the mind of Christ and to bear this fruit of love in our life, it requires that we learn to be long-suffering, just as God has been and continues to be long suffering with us.
It has been said that longsuffering means “suffering long.” That is a good answer, but a better definition is needed.
The word longsuffering in the Bible is made up of two Greek words meaning “long” and “temper”; literally, “long-tempered.”
To be longsuffering, then, is to have self-restraint when one is stirred to anger. A longsuffering person does not immediately retaliate or punish; rather, he has a “long fuse” and patiently forbears.
Longsuffering is associated with mercy (1 Peter 3:20) and hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3). It does not surrender to circumstances or succumb to trial.
God is the source of longsuffering because it is part of His character (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18–20; Psalm 86:15; Romans 2:4; 1 Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 3:15).
He is patient with sinners. At the same time, God’s longsuffering can come to an end, as seen in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18—19) and the sending of Israel into captivity (1 Kings 17:1–23; 2 Kings 24:17—25:30).
The believer in Jesus Christ receives the very life of God, His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). That life produces certain characteristics (fruit) that are displayed in the believer as he obeys the Holy Spirit who lives within him.
One of those godly characteristics from Galatians 5:22–23 is “longsuffering.” The word is translated “patience” in the New American Standard Bible. Longsuffering is to be exhibited by all believers (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 1:11; 3:12).
Think how our lives would be affected if longsuffering were exhibited in individual relationships, family relationships, church relationships, and workplace relationships.
The old nature can be very short-fused at times, and we tend to strike back against offenses with unkind words and unforgiving spirits.
By obeying the Holy Spirit, the believer in Christ can say “no” to retaliation and exhibit a forgiving and longsuffering attitude.
As God is longsuffering with us, we can and must be longsuffering with others (Ephesians 4:30–32).
The ultimate example of God’s longsuffering is His waiting for individuals to respond in faith to Jesus Christ.
God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Have you made that decision to believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you and that He rose again to provide forgiveness and eternal life? If not, read Romans 10:9–13.
One of the benefits of our having to reach out and minister to the lost and also for us to disciple new Believers, it is necessary for us to learn how to walk in Agape love.
For that to happen, it will be necessary for us to die to our self and give God permission to use us as His conduit, that He would be able to channel His love through us.
As the Scripture says, “Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches;” and it is impossible for a branch to bear fruit apart from being attached to the Vine.
As with most things, when it comes to our learning to move in the Spirit, it has to do more with our allowing God to change our attitude, while feeling the heat and frustration of the moment.
The bottom line here is that we are ALL called to love others as God loves us.
Come join the Adventure!