“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”

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.

Psalm 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

Isaiah 48:9 For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.

II Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

15a And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.

I Corinthians 13:4a Charity suffereth long, and is kind.

Colossians 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.

Ephesians 4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

MEMORY VERSE: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. —Colossians 3:12-13

CENTRAL THOUGHT: Longsuffering is an attribute of God and must come from God if we are to have it in our character; therefore, we must experience and value His longsuffering and neither despise nor misunderstand it. We must be filled with His Spirit so that His love and mercy will be poured out in us for others and daily be replenished by His grace, wisdom and divine patience.


Exodus 34:6 “Longsuffering”: long (-suffering; -winged); slow to anger; patient.

Psalm 103:13 “Pitieth”: has compassion. From the same root word as “womb,” which is translated “compassions” in Lamentations 3:22.

II Peter 3:9 “Slack … slackness”: unduly slow; tardiness; delay.

I Peter 3:7 “According to knowledge”: scientifically; intelligently; “Christian knowledge: appreciating the due relation of the sexes in the design of God, and acting with tenderness and forbearance accordingly: wisely: with wise consideration” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary). “Hindered”: cut down; cut off; frustrated; removed. “If the husband treated the wife unkindly; if he did not show her proper respect and affection; if there were bickerings, and jealousies, and contentions between them, there could be no hope that acceptable prayer would be offered. A spirit of strife; irritability and unevenness of temper; harsh looks and unkind words; a disposition easily to take offence, and an unwillingness to forgive, all these prevent a ‘return of prayers.’ Acceptable prayer never can be offered in the tempest of passion, and there can be no doubt that such prayer is often ‘hindered’ by the inequalities of temper, and the bickerings and strifes that exist in families” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).

Colossians 3:12 “Bowels of mercies”: the heart, as the seat of the affections, and those affections being strong with compassion, sympathy, and pity toward suffering. “…a sympathizing spirit with saints in distress, weeping with them that weep, suffering with them that suffer, being touched, as their high priest is, with a feeling of their sorrows and weaknesses: it denotes inward pity and compassion to distressed objects, the most tender regard to persons in misery, and such compassion as is free from all hypocrisy and deceit” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible). “Longsuffering” long spirited; “a patient holding out under trial; a long-protracted restraint of the soul from yielding to passion, especially the passion of anger” (Vincent’s Word Studies).

Colossians 3:13 “Forbearing”: hold up; bear with; endure; tolerate. “Forgive”: to grant grace.


Moses had just dealt with the disobedient Israelites who worshipped the golden calf. Now he implored God to show him His way and His glory. He needed something special to be able to lead the great congregation of people. God commanded him to go back up into Mount Sinai and bring two more tables of stone. Moses obeyed, and God met him there in a cloud. As He passed by Moses, He proclaimed His name, His attributes, and His way. Moses was there with God forty more days and wrote again God’s covenant, The Ten Commandments, on the stones. When he went back again to camp, he was unaware that his face shone so much that the people could not look at him. What a glorious visit with God!

One of the attributes God showed Moses was His longsuffering. The next time we see this particular word was when the Israelites were so rebellious and angry against God they refused to enter Canaan and instead called to appoint another leader to take them back to Egypt. God told Moses He would smite them and make a new nation from Moses’ descendants. Moses pleaded with God, for His name’s sake, to pardon and spare them, citing God’s own words given to Him that day on the mountain. “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy” (Numbers 14:18). This word is used in reference to God eight more times in the Old Testament: by David in Psalms 86, 103 and 145; by Jeremiah in a touching dialogue with God where he pleaded with God not to take him away; by the prophets Joel, Jonah and Nahum; and by Nehemiah as he recorded the Levites’ quoting Moses’ same words to God (from Numbers 14:18) in their prayer of repentance for Israel after the Babylonian captivity.

In Isaiah 48, God defined His longsuffering toward the rebellious Israelites: because of His “name’s sake,” He deferred his anger and did not cut them off.

In the New Testament, Peter explained it was longsuffering that caused God to tarry His second coming, not tardiness nor for lack of keeping a promise. All these examples let us know that we can totally miss the meaning of God’s longsuffering; we can discount it and actually despise it. And when we don’t comprehend this about God, when we don’t realize the depth of His forbearance, longsuffering and forgiveness toward us, we will not understand how longsuffering we should be toward others.

The apostle Paul wrote about longsuffering from his unique perspective of having been a persecutor of the church but, being awakened by God’s mercy, he had repented and obtained forgiveness. He stated that from that time forward he would be known as a “pattern” of the longsuffering of Jesus Christ (I Timothy 1:16). This example, as well as other New Testament admonitions, remind us that longsuffering is a part of that “more excellent way,” a quality of divine Love, without which we are nothing. Being able to joyfully suffer long is the ultimate expression of Divine strength in the soul. It takes longsuffering to keep the unity of the Spirit.

One aspect of longsuffering I kept running into was that grace, mercy, and forbearance are especially to be offered to those who do us injury, who owe us regard or obedience. Certainly that is how Christ has been forbearing and longsuffering with us.

As Christ forgave. As He loved us. If I would forbear with my spouse in just that way, how tranquil and happy our home would be!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. Explain the context of the verse in Exodus 34. What had just happened to Moses?
  2. What does the Lord remember as He pities us with a Fatherly pity?
  3. How is a husband to treat his wife, according to I Peter 3:7?
  4. What two things accompany longsuffering in I Corinthians 13 and Colossians 1?
  5. I Peter 3 outlines specific things that make up longsuffering. What are they?
  6. Name the elements of spiritual clothing listed in Colossians 3. How do they apply specifically to marriage?


Psalm 86:15 “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious,longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” David’s words portray a God having compassion for the weak and sorrowing, grace for the undeserving, longsuffering for the provoking, mercy for the erring, and truth for the tested—exactly the qualities needed in marriage. God’s love has many forms, and all of them are lovely. Its pure white light, when shining through our hearts, has the peculiar characteristic of separating into all the colors of the rainbow of heavenly graces this verse unveils until it bathes our lives in iridescent splendor. Nowhere is that radiant, sparkling, dancing light more resplendent than when two people flash it upon each other in a godly marriage.

Perhaps each of us could say “we are different, my spouse and I.” In some ways our personalities mesh and in some they can collide. Married couples pledge hearts and lives to each other, and thus commit to adapting their personalities to each other. Roberta and I knew we must do that diligently, for like all couples we faced the additional task of meeting an uncertain future that would hold the same kinds of mountains and valleys as the generations who had blazed the path before us. We each brought to the contest our devotion, fortitude, character. They were valuable, but they were not enough. Only the mighty hand of God could enable us to truly mold to each other while both young and old, through joy and delight, through tears and altered expectations. We needed Him when we came to the “choice points” of life, when we had to decide whether to allow the challenges we met draw us closer together or wedge us apart. The gentle spirit of holy longsuffering with which God has helped us has been the key to filling our home with the kaleidoscope of beautiful colors, largely unseen by others, that make our marriage our secret treasure.

For just one example, we have learned to give to each other. We have a marital bank account: we continually put special gifts and kindnesses in it for each other, so when an unexpected emotional expense arises we have a balance. It makes longsuffering easy— neither of us can bear to see the other hurt because we’re in love. Thus we find ourselves continually trying to do things to keep the beautiful white multicolored sunshine from heaven in each other’s day.

—Bro. Ed and Sis. Roberta Wilson, Shawnee, Oklahoma

Married April 2, 1966