Patience and Longsuffering
A Brief Word for the Moment
There is a slight difference in the meaning of these two words. The J. N. Darby Translation footnote on James 5:7 informs us that in general the word for patience (hupomone) is in respect of things whereas the word for longsuffering (makrothumia) expresses patience in respect of persons.
- The man who is longsuffering (makrothumia) does not suffer himself easily to be provoked by injurious persons, or to be angered (2 Tim. 4:2).
- The man who is patient (hupomone), though under great trials, bears up, and does not lose heart or courage (Rom. 5:3; 2 Cor. 1:6).
What we would all like to know is, how can it be done? The verse in Colossians provides the answer, an important answer, keeping in mind that the Colossian epistle was to be read also to the Laodiceans (Col. 4:16) i.e. the word is particularly appropriate to ourselves, having regard to the character of the day in which we live.
Here is the verse, as in the King James Translation, with slight alterations from the Darby Translation:
". strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness, giving thanks unto the Father." (Col. 1:11)
The key to success evidently is wrapped up in the words, "strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory," i.e. Christ's glory, which is precisely the theme of the Colossian epistle. With what pleasure we trace out in chapter one His double Headships, in creation (vv. 15-17) and new creation (vv. 18-20), the One who is the Son of the Father's love and the Image of the invisible God (vv. 13-15), Paul's double ministries, in the glad tidings (v. 23) and the mystery (v. 25) can be our constant delight, "gleaning in the fields of God's mighty Man of wealth." What strength too this brings as the Spirit opens up these truths to our souls. It is ever the method of love to turn the eyes of the afflicted to the One who, in all our afflictions, knows those afflictions perfectly, and uses those very circumstances to teach us His tender heart and powerful hand.
John Baptist came into this school-room (Matt. 11:2-6), the disciples (Mark 10:32-34), Israel also, past and future (Isa. 63:9). And perhaps the most touching Scripture of all is Hebrews 12:1-11. Here we learn that not only is this the way that the Lord Jesus has gone before but also all that reaches us in discipline comes from the hands of a loving Father - interesting indeed, in an epistle where God is prominent (about 69 times). God as Father is presented only twice, once in relation to our blessed Lord (ch. 1:5) and once in relation to us (ch. 12:9), and this when we are under His loving hand that we may be partakers of His holiness (ch. 12:10). It is the Father who is the husbandman (John 15:1).
These then are the two supports to make us to be patient and longsuffering, first, the might of Christ's glory shining before our souls, and second, the consciousness that all comes from the hand of a loving Father. This is our encouragement, beloved brethren, to "count it all joy when we fall into diverse temptations" (James 1:2).