As I approach studying charity, I’m trying to remember that it is the pure love of Christ. Often, we can see that Christ, himself, has these traits – as He is completely charitable.
“And charity suffereth long,…” – Moroni 7:45
I have to admit. It is really hard for me to suffer-long.
The Lord is Long-Suffering
“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,” – Exodus 34:6
We learn that the Lord is long-suffering. And we see it, in the scriptures, time and time again. Even though there are records of civilizations being destroyed (Israel, Judah, the Nephites, etc.) this was not because he lacked patience. He always warned them, and waited…and waited…and waited.
In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, He even reasoned with Abraham – if there were even ten righteous men, he would spare the entire wicked city. God is patient. He is long-suffering.
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation;…” – 2 Peter 3:15
I love this on two levels.
1. Christ had to be patient to endure the pain and stress of the atonement. This doesn’t even take into account the temptations he faced during his life.
2. I have felt the long-suffering love of the Lord. Despite my weakness and failings, He forgives me and loves me. I can’t imagine pure love that isn’t patient.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,” – Galatians 5:22
It strikes me that being long-suffering is simpler than being “dealing”. We need to get the Spirit. We aren’t expected to be patient or long-suffering on our own. What we need to do is live worthy of the Spirit, and then we will be blessed with the fruits of the Spirit: including being long-suffering.
This makes sense to me. If I’m impatient, it will drive the Spirit away. Additionally, the comfort, love, and understanding of the Spirit often gives me the perspective I need in order to go through life with more patience.
“But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;” – Alma 13:28
Alma teaches us how we can have the Spirit in our lives – through humility, prayer, and watchfulness. Such behavior will enable us to make it through temptation better, and we will be blessed with the Holy Ghost – becoming – full of all long-suffering!
In reading this, I can see that Alma does not mean to say that the Lord will take away our temptations or trials. He doesn’t mean to say that they will not be difficult. They are only manageable if we are behaving in a way that will allow us to be empowered by the Spirit. And I love that one of these blessings of the Spirit is long-suffering.
We are commanded to endure. We are commanded to be long-suffering. And the Lord doesn’t expect us to do it on our own. If we are living worthy of His Spirit, He will enable us with ability to keep His commandment.
” And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” – Romans 5:3-5
Finally, Paul teaches us a chain of events – beginning with tribulation.
Tribulation → Patience → Experience → Hope → Charity
Being long-suffering through our afflictions, bearing them with patience, will help us to eventually be charitable. We don’t have to suffer alone. Christ has already suffered, and is willing to strengthen us through His Spirit. If we seek Him, live worthy of His Spirit, then we will become patient people – able, like Christ, to suffer long. We will become more charitable.
I have to admit, I need to learn to be more patient and long-suffering. Sometimes I get a little hyped up and annoyed. I honk at people who forget to put on their turn signals. I yell at my kids because they are yelling. These feelings drive away the Spirit and destroy my ability to obtain charity.
How do you encourage obtaining charity by suffering long? What do you do to be more patient?