September 26, 2011 by Chris French
Have you ever wondered how you can, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you?” (Matt. 5.44) You’ve met those people who take and take from you and never give in return. These people push your kindness, integrity and love to the limit. These are the people who give the human race a bad name. Every time you see them you can feel the anger rising inside of you because of their actions toward you. Maybe they’re family or co-workers or an acquaintance that says or does something that hits you the wrong way.
One of the ways we know the Spirit lives inside of us is our patience or longsuffering. This word is the exact opposite of the “short fuse” temper. We’re literally to have a “long fuse”, specifically toward a wrong done to you. Someone offends you and you let it go and forgive them without retaliating. That’s what this word means, but how do we do that?
I think it helps to remember that we take and take from God, deeply offending Him daily, giving mankind a bad name and He has “patience” toward us. In fact the same word used in Galatians 5.22 is used by Peter in reference to God’s patience with us (2nd Peter 3.9)! He has a “long fuse” toward the wrongs we do to Him and expects the grace He extends to us to show up in the way we treat others. In Matthew 18.23-35 Jesus tells a parable about a servant who had borrowed an enormous sum of money from the king. It’s time to pay it back, but the servant doesn’t have it so the king orders that he be thrown into jail until he can repay the loan. The servant begs the king for patience, a “long fuse” in spite of his wrong doing, and receives it. This servant in turn goes to a fellow servant who owed him a very small sum of money. The servant doesn’t have the money and begs for a “long fuse” in spite of his wrong. The first servant throws him in prison. Sound familiar? God has forgiven a mountain of debt in the form of our sin, but when someone hurts us we don’t show the same self-restraint when punishing the wrong.
Go back and read the king’s reaction when he finds out about the servant’s “short fuse” (Matt. 18.31-35). This long fuse has been extended to us and it’s one of the traits of Deity that we’re to emulate. This isn’t a suggestion or a good idea. It’s a necessity! How long is your fuse?