by Arch Hoercher
The second group of three is forbearance (long-suffering), kindness and goodness. These three relate to our behavior towards men. The first is forbearance, some translations use the word “long-suffering” and others “patience”, all three words are correct and all three probably give a better translation of what is actually meant. Forbearance is defined by Webster as “the quality of someone who is patient and able to deal with a difficult person or situation without becoming angry – a refraining from the enforcement of something (like a debt or right or obligation). In the Bible it is often connected to God as a “holding back” and the “passing over of sin”. It is a Christian grace in likeness to God. Long-suffering is defined by Webster as: “suffering for a long time without complaining – very patient during difficult times – patiently enduring lasting offense or hardship.” The Bible describes long-suffering as having self-restraint when one is stirred to anger. A long-suffering person does not have a “short-fuse” and immediately retaliates or punishes, but is to have a “long-fuse” and patiently endure offenses and delay retribution. God is “long-suffering” and displays “forbearance” when dealing with man’s sinfulness and disobedience. God has a very long fuse. We are to act towards other men in the same way God has acted towards us, with patience and mercy. It takes a wise and good man to overcome evil with good, and to love them that hate. A person who is living under the influence of the Holy Spirit should never be involved in a fight or quarrel with another person. The Christian should respond with forbearance and long-suffering (the qualities of mercy). The second “grace” in this list of three behaviors toward men is kindness. Webster defines kindness as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” Kindness is an attribute of God but is not always found in man. “God is kind to all He has made” (Psalm 145:9). “His kindness is intended to lead to repentance, not to rejection of Him” (Romans 2:4). “God’s kindness is manifest in the full salvation that comes through Christ” (1 Peter 2:3). “Our salvation derives from the kindness of God” (Ephesians 2:7-8). “It is through continuing in his kindness that we are saved” (Romans 11:22). Kindness is an attribute of God and because of that it should be displayed in the life of the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Christian should be displaying kindness to all we meet and have interactions with. We should be friendly, considerate of others, generous in help and charity, and compassionate to others needs and troubles. It is a great witness to others when we act in kindness. The third “grace” in this list of three behaviors toward men is goodness. Webster defines goodness as “a simple word for the general quality recognized in character or conduct – the quality of being good.” Goodness in the Bible is defined as “the deliberate preference of right over wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of all moral good.” It is an inward disposition of goodness. It should be our goal to be “good” in our conduct at all times. Never bragging about how good we are or patting ourselves on the back before other men to let them know how good we are. We should not behave as the Pharisees did. Goodness and kindness should be part of our very nature through the power of the Holy Spirit as it is God’s nature.