Have you ever thought about how long it took Noah to build the ark? It could have been as long as 120 years. Genesis 6:3 “And the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’” It seems that God gave man 120 years to repent. Genesis 6:13-14 “And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.’” Noah was a preacher of righteousness. 2 Peter 2:5 “And did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly.” While we don’t really know how long the ark took to build, I understand that Noah preached to the people about righteousness and God was very longsuffering. But after 120 years He brought the flood upon the earth and destroyed mankind, except for the eight who were in the ark.
God demonstrated to the Israelites that He was longsuffering. Nehemiah 9:16-21 “But they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments. They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks, and in their rebellion they appointed a leader to return to their bondage. But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them. Even when they made a molded calf for themselves, and said, ‘This is your god that brought you up out of Egypt,’ and worked great provocations, yet in Your manifold mercies you did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, to lead them on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way they should go. You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.” God was longsuffering for the 40 years that the Israelites dwelt in the wilderness even though they acted proudly, hardened their necks and did not heed His commandments. God was not only longsuffering to the Israelites in the wilderness, but once they entered the Promised Land, time and again they departed from God and did wickedness, and He was longsuffering with them. When they did not repent, He sent other nations against them to destroy them and take them into captivity.
I understand that God is longsuffering with us as Christians. Sometimes, we judge others for their sins but we practice the same things. Romans 2:1-4 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Appreciate His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering towards us. His intent is our repentance.
Time and again we read in the Bible how that God was longsuffering and abundant in mercy. Numbers 14:18 “The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.” The Lord is longsuffering to sinners, but the guilty will eventually be punished if they don’t repent. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” It seems that one of the main reasons God is longsuffering is that He gives people time to repent.
As God is longsuffering with us, we need to be longsuffering. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is to be longsuffering. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” We need to be longsuffering with one another. Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” We must act out of love, for love is longsuffering. 1 Corinthians 13:4a “Love suffers long and is kind.” Does your brother or sister in Christ do things that irritate you? Do they do things that you do not like? Do they ever say things that you think they should not say or act in ways that you think they should not act? The admonition is to be longsuffering with them, bearing with them, and forgiving them. Work for peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” My encouragement to you is to praise and thank God that He is longsuffering and patient with you. But also, I encourage you to be longsuffering with your fellow Christian in love. If you have a complaint against another, forgive even as Christ forgave you.