When looking for the correlation between the fruit of the Spirit and the characteristics of love, it’s easy to see how longsuffering fits into the picture. As its name implies, longsuffering means “having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people.” Synonyms for the word include patient, forbearing, and tolerant.
First Corinthians 13 tells us that love suffers long (vs. 4). It is patient. It doesn’t fly off the handle when things don’t go as planned. To put it very bluntly, love puts up with a lot of stuff. As if that straightforward statement in the love chapter weren’t convicting enough, it also tells us love endures all things (vs. 7).
In this context, the word endure means "to remain; to persevere; to bear bravely and calmly." Oh, good grief! It’s one thing to "put up with" last-minute schedule changes, overbooked work weeks, the dog’s latest tantrum, and the never-ending joint pain in my body, but to bear it bravely and calmly is another thing entirely. Who does this? Those who abide in the Vine.
God is the Vine, and we are the branches, and I’ve got news for you: branches don’t produce fruit; the vine does. Branches only display it—that is, they’re supposed to. But that can’t happen when there’s a disconnect between the Vine and us. Maybe it’s sin in our lives. Perhaps it’s our unwillingness to let go and give God control. For me, I think it’s a tendency to strive to produce my own fruit, not because I think I’m better than God but rather because I feel the need to prove myself to Him and others. When I don’t see peace, joy, longsuffering, and the other results of love in my life, I think there’s something wrong. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Perhaps I need to do more. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
The entire time I’m striving, God is waiting for me to be still and abide, to trust in His provision. Even now, I know my place is to display the fruit and not produce it, but I still look at my life and find myself lacking. I read through these definitions of love and think, If only! But could it be that I’m trying so hard to whip myself into shape, I’m standing in God’s way? I heard the song just this past weekend, “Lord, keep me in Your will, so I won’t be in Your way.”
Notice, Galatians 5:22 tells us about the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit from the Spirit. Without the vine, we cannot bear fruit. Without love, we cannot be longsuffering. Love is the element that keeps us from harsh reactions and hasty responses. It helps us approach life and its troubles more bravely and calmly. To endure hardships. To put up with personality clashes and schedule conflicts. Yes, with love, it’s even possible to experience significant loss and still say, “It is well with my soul.”