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Summary: 21st message in Ephesians dealing with a worthy walk in long-suffering

“Walk with Longsuffering”

Ephesians 4:2-3

I. Our Wealth and Worth In Christ 1-3

II. Our Worthy Walk in Christ 4-6

A. Walk in Unity

1. Exhortation to walk worthy of our calling 1

2. Characteristics of a worthy walk 2-3

Walk worthy of your calling by…

“Walking with all humility”

“Walking with all gentleness”

“Walking with longsuffering”

This characteristic is also one of four found in the parallel letter to the Colossian Christians.

Longsuffering was not always demonstrated in the early New Testament church any more than it is today. I have had people express the longing to be like the New Testament Church.

I ask them, “Which one?” Corinth, Ephesus? Paul expended a lot of ink and parchment dealing with bitter disputes in the early churches. He even had to warn them not to bite and devour one another. Paul urged two prominent women in the Philippian church to get along with each other. Most of his letters deal with relational issues.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

God intended His church to live differently than “mere men”. He intended us to be people who live by the energy of the Holy Spirit rather than their fleshly impulses. Power to live this way comes from the Spirit’s empowerment. Paul prayed for that strengthening in Colossians.

strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and longsuffering… Colossians 1:11

A life that reflects the wonder of our high and holy calling includes “longsuffering” along with all humility and gentleness. Some versions translate this Greek term with our English word “patience”.

It is translated from two Greek words.

“makros” = long or far and “thumos” = wrath, indignation, passion, anger

This calls us to demonstrate the changed life by being long tempered as opposed to short tempered. Trench, contrasting this word best translated “longsuffering” with hupomone (patience or endurance) says: “Longsuffering will be found to express patience with respect of persons. Hupomone is patience in respect of things. The man who is longsuffering, is he who, having to do with injurious persons, does not suffer himself easily to be provoked by them, or to blaze up in anger. The man who is patient (hupomone) is the one who under a great siege of trials, bears up and does not lose courage.”

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, Ex. 34:6, Rom. 2:4; 1 Pet. 3:20. Patience is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial; it is the opposite of despondency and is associated with hope, 1 Thess. 1:3; it is not used of God.”

God does not need patience with event and circumstances and temptation because He is beyond all that and controls all things. God does exercise longsuffering with stubborn, rebellious people. We are called to both stand up under trial (endure) and exercise restraint in our reaction to difficult people. This message will deal with longsuffering. God calls the citizens of His kingdom to restrain our anger, bitterness, irritation, indignation or retaliation in the face of provocation due to the actions or inaction of people.

It is fortunate for us that this is a characteristic of God.

"They (God’s people) refused to listen, and did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; so they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; and You did not forsake them. Nehemiah 9:17

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me. Psalm 86:15-17

Does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? Romans 9:21-22

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