2 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.”
Someone asked me, “Bro. Domelle, how long do I put up with my…and their antics?” This question came from a frustrated person about a backslidden person that they put up with and saw no end in sight of the other person’s lifestyle. I can certainly understand the frustration of a person like this because it can almost seem hopeless and fruitless to continue to put up with people who never seem to change.
However, the question above is easily answered with this question. How long does God put up with sinful humans? The verse above says that God is “longsuffering to us-ward.” If you think that you have put up with the foolishness of a person for a long time, put yourself in God’s place and see how long He put up with the whole world and its foolishness. God put up with the foolishness of Samson for about eighteen years. He was longsuffering with the world in Noah’s day for one hundred and twenty years. We could go through the Scriptures and see how the LORD often put up with people for decades of foolishness when He had the power to destroy them, but His longsuffering kept Him holding on to the hope that they would repent. Let me give you a few thoughts about being longsuffering.
First, longsuffering is not a weakness, but it is a strength. To those who see someone being longsuffering with you, it is not that they are displaying weakness, but they are displaying a strength that you don’t have. If being longsuffering were easy, everyone would do it. The fact that you must suffer a long time while you wait on someone to get right shows your spiritual strength to restrain yourself from doing what you would like to do to them.
Second, longsuffering is not easy. You will find yourself becoming frustrated with the foolishness of the person who you are putting up with, but you must be longsuffering while God is doing His work in their life.
Third, longsuffering will not be fair. It is not fair that you have to put up with the foolishness of a person’s treatment towards you, but God never said that it would be fair. God never said to react in fairness when others wrong you, but He does command you to be longsuffering with others. You will be treated unfairly, and life will be unfair to you while you are longsuffering, but it is still the right thing to do.
Fourth, longsuffering will be misunderstood by others. Many will tell you that you don’t have to put up with what someone is doing to you, and they are right, but you must continue to be longsuffering if you want to please God. Your friends and family won’t understand why you put up with someone who is mistreating you, but they don’t have the same love for that person that you have.
Fifth, longsuffering is driven by the hope of repentance. It is the hope that a person will change to do right that keeps you putting up with their foolishness. Whatever you do, never give up on the hope that someone will change. Yes, you may have to put up with it for many years, but you will be happy that you didn’t give up on the person when they change. God will reward you for your longsuffering, but until then, you must rely on His Holy Spirit to control you through the times of mistreatment.