I Timothy 1:16 – “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
The word longsuffering means “to be patient, or long spirited.” God is very patient with us. I have heard numerous complaints about how God does not act swiftly enough in coming through for people, as far as our needs are concerned. We tend to get impatient with God at times. Why does He take so long to respond? We should be equally glad that He is not so swift to give us the punishment we deserve. If God were not so patient, we would have been gone long ago. Thank God for His patience.
It is because of God’s patience that every one of us is born again. That is what Paul is referring to in the Scripture, “that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering.” Paul knew that his conversion to Christ was a pattern for others to see how longsuffering God is. Paul had been a persecutor of Christians and Churches. He was public enemy number one against the work of God in his day. Every day he continued to live in opposition to God. The grace that brought salvation to Paul was a testimony to the longsuffering of God. God would have been justified in destroying Paul the first time he raised his voice or his hand against God’s children. But God is longsuffering. In the same manner, God had every right to remove us for our prideful, self-centered living. I am so thankful for this simple fact: God is longsuffering.
Since God is so patient with us, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should be longsuffering with others? If we could only be half as patient with others as God has been with us, what a difference it would make. When we are losing patience with others – saints or sinners – it would be wise to remember how longsuffering God has been with us. In fact, God is longsuffering with the lost because He wants to see them be saved. He is “…longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). There is a reason that God is not rushing to bring this world to an end; He wants people to come to Him. May God help us to use the time we have to influence others for Christ.