Love is Meek in Bearing Evil and Injuries
1 Corinthians 13:4, “Charity suffers long, and is kind.”
Due to all the suffering and war crimes in Ukraine, Gaza and Israel, I started to wonder how God would want me to feel and respond or how all the people suffering should respond. In a book “Charity and its fruits” Jonathan Edwards goes over the topic of love and that it disposes those who are suffering to do it meekly. Most of this is his sermon and me modifying it some way. Do we fight back. Revenge. What about peace. etc. Its a longer read but worth it if you are suffering wrongdoing. And lastly, Objections you may have to suffering long at the end of the blog.
Love is essential a thing, or a spirit of Christian love is in the heart of every believer.
Love suffers long, which has respect to the evil or injury received from others.
LOVE, OR A TRULY CHRISTIAN SPIRIT, WILL DISPOSE US MEEKLY TO BEAR THE EVIL THAT IS RECEIVED FROM OTHERS, OR THE INJURIES THAT OTHERS MAY DO TO US.
Meekness is a great part of the Christian spirit. Meekness could be defined as power under control. Jesus Christ was meek, “I am meek and lowly in heart.”
Meekness, as it respects injuries received from men, is called long-suffering.
(Gal. 5:22) — “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering” and Eph. 4:1, 2 “walk worthy of the calling for which you are called, with all humility and meekness, with long-suffering,” Col. 3:12, 13 “So, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness/meekness, and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and graciously forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord graciously forgave you, so also should you.”
I. What kind of injuries to we receive from others?
II. Show what is meant by meekly bearing such injuries; and,
III. How that love, which is the sum of the Christian spirit, will dispose us to meekly suffer long.
I. What kind of injuries to we receive from others?
When others deceive us or are dishonest.
When someone takes advantage of our ignorance in any matter.
Any form of oppression by someone with more power or authority.
Someone taking advantage of us in a time of need.
Unfaithfulness. Not keeping promises to us.
An employee not listening. A boss being unreasonable.
Someone withholding payment to us.
They may say or do something to ruin our reputation. Or gossip. Or lies about us. Slander. Exaggerating the true story. Not telling the whole truth.
Wrongly judging our motives.
We may need to be meek and suffer long when someone is selfish and seek their own interest.
The prideful and arrogant could easily do us wrong and then love in our hearts towards God and man should dispose us to be meek and suffer long at such times.
Politicians or Government could oppress us. Or an unloving neighbor.
Some may injure us in thinking our fall is their own elevation, which it never is.
Some injure others by the spirit of envy or revenge they show toward them, cherishing ill-will or deliberately returning evil for good. Malice.
II. How are we to meekly bear such injuries to us.
First, it implies that injuries offered should be borne without doing anything to revenge them. — There are many ways in which men do that which is revengeful: not merely by actually bringing some immediate suffering on the one that may have injured them, but by anything, either in speech or behavior, which shows a bitterness of spirit against him for what he has done. Thus, if after we are offended or injured, we speak reproachfully to our neighbor, or of him to others, with a design to lower or injure him, and that we may gratify the bitter spirit we feel in our hearts for the injury that neighbor has done us, this is revenge. He, therefore, that exercises a Christian long-suffering toward his neighbor, will bear the injuries received from him without revenging or retaliating, either by injurious deeds or bitter words. He will meekly bear it without doing anything against his neighbor that shall manifest any resentment, without speaking to him, or of him, with revengeful words, and without allowing a revengeful spirit in his heart, or manifesting it in his behavior. Out of love he will receive all with a calm, undisturbed countenance, and with a soul full of meekness, quietness, and goodness. James 3:17, and Gal 5:22. True love allows no passionate, rash, or hasty expression, or a bitter, exasperated countenance, or an air of violence in the talk or behavior. But, on the contrary, the countenance and words and demeanor will all manifest the savor of peace ableness and calmness and gentleness, meekness and humility.
Pay attention here!! He may perhaps reprove his neighbor. This may clearly be our duty. Justice. But if he does, it will be without impoliteness, and without that severity that can tend only to exasperate. Though it may be with strength of reason and argument, it will still be without angry reflections or contemptuous language. He may show a disapproval of what has been done, but it will be not with an appearance of high resentment, but as reproving the offender for a sin against God, rather than as for the offense against himself. We ought not to take things personally.
We ought to seek their good, not their hurt.
If wrongly treated we should seek to deliver the offender out of the error into which he has fallen, than to be even with him for the injury done to himself.
Secondly, that mistreatment ought to be borne with the continuance of love in the heart, and without those inward emotions and passions that tend to interrupt and destroy it.
Not only a smooth external behavior should be continued after being wronged, but also a sincere love with it. We should not cease to love our neighbor because he has injured us. We may pity, but not hate him for it.
Thirdly, that injuries and wrong doings to us ought to be borne without our losing the quietness and repose of our own minds and hearts. They should not only be borne without a rough behavior, but with a continuance of inward calmness and repose of spirit. When the injuries we suffer are allowed to disturb our calmness of mind, and put us into an excitement and tumult, then we cease to bear them in the true spirit of long-suffering.
If the injury is permitted to discompose and disquiet us, and to break up our inward rest, we cannot enjoy ourselves, and are not in a state to engage properly in our various duties, and especially we are not in a state for religious duties — for prayer and meditation. And such a state of mind is the contrary of the spirit of long-suffering and meekly bearing of injuries that is spoken of in the text. Christians ought still to keep the calmness and serenity of their minds undisturbed, whatever injuries they may suffer. Their souls should be serene, and not like the unstable surface of the water, disturbed by every wind that blows. No matter what evils they may suffer, or what injuries may be inflicted on them, they should still act on the principle of the words of the Savior to his disciples (Luke 21:19) — “In your patience possess you your souls.”
Fourthly, that in many cases, when we are injured, we should be willing to suffer much in our interests and feelings for the sake of peace, rather than do what we have opportunity, and perhaps the right, to do in defending ourselves. — When we suffer injuries from others, the case is often such that a Christian spirit, if we did but exercise it as we ought, would dispose us to forbear taking the advantage we may have to vindicate and right ourselves. For by doing otherwise, we may be the means of bringing very great calamity on him that has injured us, and tenderness toward him may and ought to dispose us to a great deal of forbearance, and to suffer somewhat ourselves, rather than bring so much suffering on him. And besides, such a course would probably lead to a violation of peace, and to an established hostility, whereas in this way there may be hope of gaining our neighbor, and from an enemy making him a friend.
These things are manifest from what the apostle says to the Corinthians concerning going to law one with another — “Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (1 Cor. 6:7) Not that all endeavors in men to defend and right themselves, when they are injured by others, are censurable, or that they should suffer all the injuries that their enemies please to bring upon them, rather than improve an opportunity they have to defend and vindicate themselves, even though it be to the damage of him that injures them. But in many, and probably in most cases, men ought to suffer long first, in the spirit of the long-suffering love of the text.
And the case may often be such, that they may be called to suffer considerably, as charity and prudence shall direct, for the sake of peace, and from a sincere Christian love to the one that injures them, rather than deliver themselves in the way they may have opportunity for.
2. Why is it called long-suffering, or suffering long.
First, because we ought meekly to bear not only a small injury, but also a good deal of injurious treatment from others.
We should persevere and continue in a quiet frame, without ceasing still to love our neighbor, not only when he injures us a little, but when he injures us much, and the injuries he does us are great. And we should not only thus bear a few injuries, but a great many, and though our neighbor continues his injurious treatment to us for a long time. When it is said that charity suffers long, we cannot infer from this that we are to bear injuries meekly for a season, and that after that season we may cease . The meaning is not, that we must indeed bear injuries for a long time, but may cease to bear them at last. But it is, that we should meekly continue to bear them though they are long continued, even to the end. The spirit of long-suffering should never cease. And it is called long-suffering.
Secondly, because in some cases we should be willing to suffer a great while in our interests, before we improve opportunities of righting ourselves. — Though we may defend ourselves at last, when we are driven, as it were, by necessity to it, yet we are not to do it out of revenge, or to injure him that has injured us, but only for needful self-defense.
Even this, in many cases, is to be given up for peace, and out of a Christian spirit toward him that has injured us, and lest we should do injury to him.
III. How will love, which is the sum of the Christian spirit, dispose us meekly to bear such wrongs.
1. Love to God and the Lord Jesus Christ has a tendency to dispose us to this. For, First, love to God disposes us to imitate him, and therefore disposes us to such long suffering as he manifests. Long-suffering is often spoken of as one of the attributes of God. In Exo. 34:6, it is said, “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering,” also Rom. 2:4, The long-suffering of God is very wonderfully manifest in his bearing innumerable injuries from men, and injuries that are very great and continued for a long time. If we consider the wickedness that there is in the world, and then consider how God continues the world in existence, and does not destroy it, but showers upon it innumerable mercies, the bounties of his daily providence and grace, causing his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sending rain alike on the just and on the unjust, and offering his spiritual blessings ceaselessly and to all, we shall perceive how abundant is his long-suffering toward us.
And if we consider his long-suffering to some of the great and populous cities of the world, and think how constantly the gifts of his goodness are bestowed on and consumed by them, and then consider how great the wickedness of these very cities is, it will show us how amazingly great is his long-suffering.
And the same long-suffering has been manifest to very many particular persons, in all ages of the world. He is long-suffering to the sinners that he spares, and to whom he offers his mercy, even while they are rebelling against him.
And he is long-suffering toward his own elect people, many of whom long lived in sin, and despised alike his goodness and his wrath: and yet he bore long with them, even to the end, till they were brought to repentance, and made, through his grace, vessels of mercy and glory.
And this mercy he showed to them even while they were enemies and rebels, as the apostle tells us was the case with himself — “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (1 Tim. 1:12-16).
Now, it is the nature of love, at least in reference to a superior, that it always inclines and disposes to imitation of him. A child’s love to his father disposes him to imitate his father, and especially does the love of God’s children dispose them to imitate their heavenly Father. And as he is long-suffering, so they should be. And,
Secondly, love to God will dispose us thus to express our gratitude for his long suffering exercised toward us. Love not only disposes to imitate, but it works by gratitude. And they that love God will be thankful to him for the abundant long suffering that he has exercised toward them in particular. They that love God as they ought, will have such a sense of his wonderful long-suffering toward them under the many injuries they have offered to him, that it will seem to them but a small thing to bear with the injuries that have been offered to them by their fellowmen.
All the injuries they have ever received from others, in comparison with those they have offered to God, will appear less than a few pence in comparison with ten thousand talents. And as they thankfully accept of and admire God’s long-suffering toward themselves, so they cannot but testify their approbation of it, and their gratitude for it, by manifesting, so far as they are able, the same long-suffering to others. For if they should refuse to exercise long-suffering toward those that have injured them, they would practically disapprove of God’s long-suffering toward themselves.
For what we truly approve of and delight in, we shall not practically reject. And then gratitude for God’s long-suffering will also dispose us to obedience to and in this particular, when he commands us to be long-suffering toward others. And so, again,
Thirdly, love to God tends to humility, which is one main root of a meek and long-suffering attitude. Love to God, as it exalts him, tends to low thoughts and estimates of ourselves, and leads to a deep sense of our unworthiness and our desert of ill, because he that loves God is sensible of the hatefulness and vileness of sin committed against the Being that he loves.
And discerning an abundance of this in himself, he abhors himself in his own eyes, as unworthy of any good, and deserving of all evil. Humility is always found connected with long-suffering, as says the apostle (Eph. 4:2) — “With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love.” A humble spirit disinclines us to indulge resentment of injuries, for he that is little and unworthy in his own eyes, will not think so much of an injury offered to him as he that has high thoughts of himself. For it is deemed a greater and higher enormity to offend one that is great and high, than one that is mean and vile. It is pride or self-conceit that is very much the foundation of a high and bitter resentment, and of an unforgiving and revengeful spirit. Again,
Fourthly, love to God disposes men to have regard to the hand of God in the injuries they suffer, and not only to the hand of man, and meekly to submit to his will therein. Love to God disposes men to see his hand in everything: to own him as the governor of the world, and the director of providence, and to acknowledge his disposal in everything that takes place. And the fact that the hand of God is a great deal more concerned in all that happens to us than the treatment of men is, should lead us, in a great measure, not to think of things as from men, but to have respect to them chiefly as from God — as ordered by his love and wisdom, even when their immediate source may be the malice or heedlessness of a fellowman. And if we indeed consider and feel that they are from the hand of God, then we shall be disposed meekly to receive and quietly to submit to them, and to own that the greatest injuries received from men are justly and even kindly ordered of God, and so be far from any ruffle or tumult of mind on account of them. It was with this view that David so meekly and quietly bore the curses of Shimei, when he came forth, and cursed and cast stones at him (2 Sam. 16:5, 10), saying that the Lord had bid him do it, and therefore forbidding his followers to avenge it. And once more, Fifthly, love to God disposes us meekly to bear injuries from others, because it sets us very much above the injuries of men. And it does so in two respects. In the first place, it sets above the reach of injuries from others, because nothing can ever really hurt those that are the true friends of God. Their life is hid with Christ in God, and he, as their protector and friend, will carry them on high as on the wings of eagles. All things shall work together for their good (Rom. 8:28), and none shall be permitted really to harm them, while they are followers of that which is good (1 Pet. 3:13).
And then, in the next place, as love to God prevails, it tends to set persons above human injuries, in this sense, that the more they love God, the more they will place all their happiness in him. They will look to God as their all, and seek their happiness and portion in his favor, and that not in the allotments of his providence alone. The more they love God, the less they set their hearts on their worldly interests, which are all that their enemies can touch. Men can injure God’s people only with respect to worldly good. But the more a man loves God, the less is his heart set on the things of the world, and the less he feels the injuries that his enemies may inflict, because they cannot reach beyond these things.
And so it often is the case, that the friends of God hardly think the injuries they receive from men are worthy of the name of injuries, and the calm and quietness of their minds are scarcely disturbed by them.
And as long as they have the favor and friendship of God, they are not much concerned about the evil work and injuries of men. Love to God, and a sense of his favor, dispose them to say of the injuries of men, when they would take from them their worldly enjoyments, as Mephibosheth did of Ziba’s taking the land (2 Sam.19:30), “Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house.”
And as love to God will, in these several respects, dispose us to long-suffering under injuries from others, so, 3. Love to our neighbor will dispose us to the same. — In this sense, charity suffers long — long-suffering and forbearance are always the fruit of love. As the apostle intimates (Eph. 4:1, 2), it is a part of our walking worthily of the Christian vocation, that we walk “with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love.” Love will bear with a multitude of faults and offenses, and will incline us (Pro. 10:12) to cover all sins. So, we see by abundant observation and experience. Those that we have a great and strong affection for, we always bear a great deal more from, than from those that we dislike, or to whom we are indifferent. A parent will bear many things in his own child that he would greatly reprobate in the child of another, and a friend tolerates many things in his friend that he would not in a stranger. But there is no need to multiply words or reasons on this branch of the subject, for it is exceedingly plain to all. All know that love is of such a nature, that it is directly contrary both to resentment and revenge, for these imply ill-will, which is the very reverse of love, and cannot exist with it. Without dwelling, then, on this point, I pass, in conclusion, to make some brief improvement of the subject.
And, 1. It exhorts us all to the duty of meekly bearing the injuries that may be received from others. — Let what has been said be improved by us to suppress all wrath, revenge, and bitterness of spirit, toward those that have injured, or that may at any time injure us: whether they injure us in our estates or good names, or whether they abuse us with their tongues or with their hands, and whether those that injure us are our superiors, inferiors, or equals. Let us not say in our heart, I will do to him as he hath done to me. Let us not endeavor, as is sometimes said, “to be even with him,” by some kind of retaliation, or so much as suffer any hatred or bitterness or vindictiveness of spirit, to rise in our hearts. Let us endeavor, under all injuries, to preserve the calmness and quiet of our spirits, and be ready rather to suffer considerably in our just rights, than do anything that may occasion our stirring up, and living in, strife and contention.
To this end I would offer for consideration the following motives: —
First, consider the example that Christ has set us. — He was of a meek and quiet spirit, and of a most long-suffering behavior. In 2 Cor. 10:1, we are told by the apostle of the meekness and gentleness of Christ. He meekly bore innumerable and very great injuries from men. He was very much the object of bitter contempt and reproach, and slighted and despised as of but little account. Though he was the Lord of glory, yet he was set at nought, and rejected and disesteemed of men. He was the object of the spite and malice and bitter revilings of the very ones he came to save. He endured the contradiction of sinners against himself. He was called a glutton and a drunkard; and though holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, yet he was charged with being a friend of publicans and sinners. He was called a deceiver of the people, and oftentimes (as in John 10:20; John 7:20) he was said to be mad, and possessed with the devil. Sometimes they reproached him (John 8:48) with being a Samaritan, and having a devil: the former being esteemed by the Jesus as the highest reproach, and the latter as implying the most diabolical wickedness. He was sometimes charged (John 10:33) with being a wicked blasphemer, and one that deserved death on that account. Sometimes they charged him with working miracles by the power and aid of Beelzebub the prince of devils, and even called him (Mat. 10:25) a devil himself.
And such was their spite against him, that they had agreed (John 9:22) to excommunicate or cast out of the synagogue anyone that should say that he was the Christ. They hated him with a mortal hatred, and wished he was dead, and from time to time endeavored to murder him, yea, were almost always endeavoring to imbrue their hands in his blood. His very life was an annoyance to them, and they hated him so (Psa. 41:5), that they could not bear that he should live. We very often read (as in John 5:16) of their seeking to kill him.
And what pains did many of them take to watch him in his words, that they might have something of which to accuse him, and thus be able, with the show of reason, to put him to death!
And many times they combined together to take his life in this manner. They often actually took up stones to stone him, and once led him to the brow of a hill, that they might cast him down, and thus dash him to pieces. And yet Christ meekly bore all these injuries without resentment or one word of reproach, and with a heavenly quietness of spirit passed through them all.
And at last, when he was most ignominiously dealt with of all, when his professed friend betrayed, and his enemies seized him, and led him away to scourging and the death of the cross, he went as a lamb to the slaughter, opening not his mouth. Not one word of bitterness escaped him. There was no interruption of the calmness of his mind under his heavy distress and sufferings, nor was there the least desire for revenge. But, on the contrary, he prayed for his murderers, that they might be forgiven, even when they were about nailing him to the cross, and not only prayed for them, but pleaded in their behalf with his Father, that they knew not what they did. The sufferings of his life, and the agonies of his death, did not interrupt his long-suffering toward those that injured him.
Second, if we are not disposed meekly to bear injuries, we are not fitted to live in the world, for in it we must expect to meet with many injuries from men. We do not dwell in a world of purity and innocence and love, but in one that is fallen and corrupt, and miserable and wicked, and that is very much under the reign and dominion of sin. The principle of Divine love that was once in the heart of man is extinguished, and now reigns in but few, and in them in a very imperfect degree. And those principles that tend to malice and injuriousness are the principles that the generality of the world are under the power of. This world is a place where the devil, who is called the god of this world, has influence and dominion, and where multitudes are possessed of his spirit. All men, as the apostle says (2 Thess. 3:2), have not faith. Indeed, but few have that spirit of faith in the heart which leads to the life being governed by the rules of justice and kindness toward others. The aspect of the world is too much that of which our Savior spoke, when, in sending out his disciples, he said (Mat. 10:16), “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” And therefore those that have not a spirit, with meekness, and calmness, and long-suffering, and composedness of soul, to bear injuries in such a world, are miserable indeed, and are like to be wretched at every step of their way through life. If every injury we must meet, and every reproach, and malicious and unjust deed, is to put our minds and hearts into a ruffle and tumult, and disturb the calm and peace in which we may enjoy ourselves, then we can have no possession or enjoyment of spirit, but shall be kept in a perpetual turmoil and tumult, like the bark that is driven to and fro continually on the stormy ocean. Men that have their spirits heated and enraged, and rising in bitter resentment when they are injured, act as if they thought some strange thing had happened to them. Whereas they are very foolish in so thinking, for it is no strange thing at all, but only what was to be expected in a world like this. They, therefore, do not act wisely, that allow their spirits to be ruffled by the injuries they suffer, for a wise man doth but expect more or less injury in the world, and is prepared for it, and, in meekness of spirit, is prepared to endure it.
Third, in this way we shall be most above injuries. He that has established such a spirit and disposition of mind that the injuries received from others do not exasperate and provoke him, or disturb the calmness of his mind, lives, as it were, above injuries, and out of their reach. He conquers them, and rides over and above them, as in triumph, exalted above their power. He that has so much of the exercise of a Christian spirit, as to be able meekly to bear all injuries done him, dwells on high, where no enemy can reach him. History tells us, that when the Persians besieged Babylon, the walls of the city were so exceeding high, that the inhabitants used to stand on the top of them, and laugh at their enemies. So one whose soul is fortified with a spirit of Christian meekness, and a disposition calmly to bear all injuries, may laugh at the enemy that would injure him. If any that have an ill spirit against us, and are therefore disposed to do us an injury by reproaching us or otherwise, see that by so doing they can disturb and vex us, they are gratified thereby. But if they see that by all they can do they cannot interrupt the calm of our minds, nor break up our serenity of soul, then they are frustrated in their aim, and the shafts with which they would wound us fall back without doing the execution they intended. While, on the other hand, just in proportion as we allow our minds to be disturbed and embarrassed by the injuries offered by an adversary, just in the same proportion do we fall under his power.
Fourth, the spirit of Christian long-suffering, and of meekness in bearing injuries, is a mark of true greatness of soul. It shows a true and noble nature, and real greatness of spirit, thus to maintain the calmness of the mind in the midst of injuries and evils. It is an evidence of excellence of temper, and of inward fortitude and strength. “He that is slow to anger,” says Solomon (Pro. 16:32), “is better than the mighty: and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city;” that is, he shows a more noble and excellent nature, and more true greatness of spirit, than the greatest conquerors of the earth. It is from littleness of mind that the soul is easily disturbed and put out of repose by the reproaches and ill-treatment of men: just as little streams of water are much disturbed by the small unevenesses and obstacles they meet with in their course, and make a great deal of noise as they pass over them, whereas great and mighty streams pass over the same obstacles calmly and quietly, without a ripple on the surface to show they are disturbed. He that possesses his soul after such a manner that, when others harm and injure him, he can, notwithstanding, remain in calmness and hearty goodwill toward them, pitying and forgiving them from the heart, manifests therein a godlike greatness of spirit. Such a meek and quiet and long-suffering spirit shows a true greatness of soul, in that it shows great and true wisdom, as says the apostle James (Jam. 3:13) — “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” And the wise Solomon, who well knew what belonged to wisdom, often speaks of the wisdom of such a spirit: declaring (Pro. 13:10) that “only by pride cometh contention; but with the well-advised is wisdom;” and again (Pro. 29:8), that “wise men turn away wrath;” and still again (Pro. 19:11), that “the discretion of a man defers his anger.” On the contrary, those that are apt highly to resent injuries, and to be greatly angered and vexed by them, are spoken of in the Scriptures as of a little and foolish spirit. “He that is slow to wrath,” says Solomon (Pro. 14:29), “is of great understanding; but he that is hasty of spirit exalts folly;” and again (Ecc. 7:8, 9), “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger rests in the bosom of fools;” and still again (Pro. 14:16-18), “The fool rages and is confident. He that is soon angry deals foolishly, and a man of wicked devices is hated. The simple inherit folly.” And, on the other hand, a meek spirit is expressly spoken of in the Scripture as an honorable spirit; as in Pro. 20:3 — “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife.”
Fifth, the spirit of Christian long-suffering and meekness is commended to us by the example of the saints. The example of Christ alone might be, and is sufficient; since it is the example of him who is our head, and Lord and master, whose followers we profess to be, and whose example we believe to be perfect. And yet some may be ready to say, with regard to the example of Christ, that he was sinless, and had no corruption in his heart, and that it cannot be expected of us that we should do in all things as he did. Now, though this is no reasonable objection, yet the example of saints, who were men of like passions with ourselves, is not without its special use, and may in some respects have a peculiar influence. Many of the saints have set bright examples of this long-suffering that has been recommended. With what meekness, for instance, did David bear the injurious treatment that he received from Saul, when he was hunted by him as a partridge on the mountains, and pursued with the most unreasonable envy and malice, and with murderous designs, though he had ever behaved himself dutifully toward him.
And when he had the opportunity put into his hands of cutting him off, and at once delivering himself from his power, and others around him were ready to think it very lawful and commendable to do so, yet as Saul was the Lord’s anointed, he chose rather to commit himself and all his interests to God, and venture his life in his hands, and suffer his enemy still to live.
And when, after this, he saw that his forbearance and goodness did not overcome Saul, but that he still pursued him, and when again he had the opportunity of destroying him, he chose rather to go out as a wanderer and an outcast, than to injure the one that would have destroyed him. Another instance is that of Stephen, of whom we are told (Acts 7:59, 60), that, when his persecutors were venting their rage upon him by stoning him to death, “he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” This prayer is mentioned as that which he made with his expiring breath, and as the last words that he uttered after praying the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit; and immediately after making this prayer for his persecutors, we are told that he fell asleep, thus forgiving them and commending them to God’s blessing as the last act of his life on earth. Another example is that of the apostle Paul, who was the subject of numberless injuries from wicked and unreasonable men. Of these injuries, and his manner of behavior under them, he gives us some account in 1 Cor. 4:11-13 — “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.” Thus he manifested a meek and long-suffering spirit under all the injuries that were heaped upon him. And not only do we have these records respecting inspired men; but we have accounts in uninspired and mere human histories, of the remarkable heroism and long-suffering of martyrs and other Christians, under the most unreasonable and wicked treatment and injuries received from men: all of which should lead us to the same meek and long-suffering spirit.
Sixth, this is the way to be rewarded with the exercise of the Divine long-suffering toward us. We are often informed in the Scriptures, that men are to be dealt with by God hereafter, according to their way of dealing with others. Thus we are told (Psa. 18:25, 26) that “with the merciful God will show himself merciful, and with the upright man, upright; that with the pure he will show himself pure, and with the froward he will show himself froward.” And again (Mat. 7:2), “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again;” and still again (Mat. 6:14, 15), “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” By trespasses here, is meant the same as injuries done to us, so that if we do not bear with men’s injuries against us, neither will our heavenly Father bear with our injuries against him. If we do not exercise long suffering toward men, we cannot expect that God will exercise long-suffering toward us. But let us consider how greatly we stand in need of God’s long-suffering with regard to our injuries toward him. How often and how greatly are we injuriously behaving ourselves toward God, and how ill is our treatment of him every day!
And if God did not bear with us, and exercise wonderful long-suffering toward us, how miserable should we be, and what would become of us! Let this consideration, therefore, influence all of us to seek such an excellent spirit as that which has been spoken of; and to disallow and suppress anything of the contrary spirit or practice. It would have a most happy influence on us as individuals, and on our families, and so on all our public associations and affairs, if such a spirit as this prevailed. It would prevent contention and strife, and diffuse gentleness and kindness, and harmony and love. It would do away with bitterness and confusion, and every evil work. Our affairs would all be carried on, both in public and private, without fierceness, or edge, or bitterness of spirit; without harsh and opprobrious expressions to others, and without any of the malignant backbiting and contemptuous speech, that so often are heard among men, and which at the same time do great injury in society, and are making fearful work for the judgment. But some, in their hearts, may be ready to object against such a meek and quiet bearing of injuries as has been spoken of, and
some of these objections it may be profitable briefly to mention and answer: —
Objection 1. Some may he ready to say, that the injuries they receive from men are intolerable; that the one who has injured them has been so unreasonable in what he has said or done, and it is so unjust and injurious and unjustifiable, and the like, that it is more than flesh and blood can bear: that they are treated with so much injustice that it is enough to provoke a stone, or that they are treated with such contempt, that they are actually trampled on, and they cannot but resent it. But in answer to this objection, I would ask a few questions.
And, First, do you think the injuries you have received from your fellowman are more than you have offered to God? Has your enemy been more base, more unreasonable, more ungrateful, than you have to the High and Holy One? Have his offenses been more heinous or aggravated, or more in number, than yours have been against your Creator, Benefactor, and Redeemer? Have they been more provoking and exasperating than your sinful conduct has been to him who is the author of all our mercies, and to whom you are under the highest obligations?
Second, do you not hope that as God hitherto has, so he will still bear with you in all this, and that notwithstanding all, he will exercise toward you his infinite love and favor? Do you not hope that God will have mercy upon you, and that Christ will embrace you in his dying love, though you have been such an injurious enemy, and that, through his grace, he will blot out your transgressions and all your offenses against him, and make you eternally his child, and an heir of his kingdom?
Third, when you think of such long-suffering on God’s part, do you not approve of it, and think well of it, and that it is not only worthy and excellent, but exceeding glorious? And do you not approve of it, that Christ should have died for you, and that God, through him, should offer you pardon and salvation? Or do you disapprove of this? And would you have liked God better, if he had not borne with you, but had long since cut you off in his wrath?
Fourth, if such a course be excellent and worthy to be approved of in God, why is it not so in yourself? Why should you not imitate it? Is God too kind in forgiving injuries? Is it less heinous to offend the Lord of heaven and earth, than for a man to offend you? Is it well for you to be forgiven, and that you should pray to God for pardon, and yet that you should not extend it to your fellowmen that have injured you?
Fifth, would you be willing, for all the future, that God should no longer bear with the injuries you may offer him, and the offenses you commit against him? Are you willing to go and ask God to deal with yourself for the future, as in holding this objection, you think of dealing with your fellowmen?
Sixth, did Christ turn again upon those who injured and insulted and trod on him, when he was here below, and was he not injured for more grievously than ever you have been? And have not you more truly trodden under foot the Son of God, than you were ever trodden on by others? And is it a more provoking thing for men to tread on and injure you, than for you to tread on and injure Christ? These questions may sufficiently answer your objection.
Objection 2. But you may still further say, that those who have injured you, persist in it, and do not at all repent, but go on doing it still. But what opportunity could there be for long-suffering, if injury were not persisted in long? If injuries are continued, it may be for the very purpose, in providence, of trying whether you will exercise longsuffering and meekness, and that forbearance that has been spoken of. And did not God bear with you, when you persisted in offending him? When you have been obstinate, and self-willed, and persevering in your injuries against him, has he ceased to exercise his long-suffering toward you?
Objection 3. But you may object again, that your enemies will be encouraged to go on with their injuries, excusing yourself by saying, that if you bear injury, you will only be injured the more. But you do not know this, for you have not an insight into the future, nor into the hearts of men. And, beside, God will undertake for you, if you obey his commands, and he is more able to put a stop to the wrath of man than you are. He has said (Rom. 12:19), “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” He interposed wonderfully for David, as he has for very many of his saints; and if you do but obey him, he will take part with you against all that rise up against you. And in the observation and experience of men, it is generally found that a meek and long suffering spirit puts an end to injuries, while a revengeful spirit does but provoke them. Cherish, then, the spirit of long-suffering, meekness, and forbearance, and you shall possess your soul in patience and happiness, and none shall be permitted to harm you more than God in wisdom and kindness may permit.
Saved in 2000 at age 27. Nearly immediately I fell in love with the Song and grew very fast the first two years memorizing large portions of scripture purifying my mind the started chewing on meat to soon and struggled for 12 years and Christ has me on track like always but I just took the long way around and now I love leading others closer to Christ by seeing His love reflected in Solomons love for an enemy slave girl.
I have experienced God's love to me in the Song in ways that words can't express. There are many portion of the Word where she experiences extra ordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God. If you have a burning desire for a close intimate relationship with God by experiencing His Love to you over and over again at greater and greater heights, depths, lengths and breaths then The Song of Songs is where you need to be.
I can help you with this process of Growing in the experience of God's love. As of 7-23-16 I have experienced everything prior to chapter 8. The Song of Song is progressive in experience. Meaning that if you are mature then you can experience the joys and extraordinary outpourings of God's Love shed abroad in your heart.
If you are not so mature then the delights in the first chapter of the Song will satisfy your thirst for experiencing the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Many Christian are living in sin because they do not know how to experience God's love and get hooked on Loving Him. It feels good to be loved and to love Him. His burden is not heavy and His yoke is light, Jesus said in Matt. 10:28
I believe God wants to use me to help beautify His Bride through the Song of Solomon.
If you see the book literally you will not understand nor grasp the Love God has for you. If you see the book and the verses in it relating to Christ's love to you then I would love to show you how to experience this Love to the fullest. I will pray for you daily and guide you every step of the way.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I grew up going to church but was a hypocrite. I lived my life how I chose but went to church on Sunday because my family went.
Mom and Dad divorced when I was about 5.
About this time I was sexually abused by "Bob" a made up name. This incident changed my life for the worst. I had no clue how to deal with it.
As I got older I grew in my hatred for Bob. I didn't blame anyone of my family because I was to young to know any better. Some of what happened during the abuse was in a bathroom. So overtime I would use the bathroom and look at my private parts that night would replay in my mind. My hatred for Bob would continue to grow each time.
Now I know this only happened to me one night. I can't image the pain other's go through who have had this happen to them over and over. Even as I write this now I cry with many tears for those hurting. God love you even though you may not know it or feel it. Go to Him in your time of need.
I was a really bad teenager. I only cared about myself and not even my family. I always came first in my mind. Even at the expense of hurting others. I was growing in my hatred for God by now.
I was going to church and was learned that God was in control. I thought well, if God was in control then He must have let me be sexually abused. I didn't understand this, How could a good and loving God allow this. I hated Him for it. My hatred for Bob grew as well. I was still using the bathroom and memories kept coming back. My heart grew even harder for Bob and God. As far as I was concerned God would have nothing to do with my life so I lived even worse. I thought I would be in jail or dead and I really didn't care, I thought it could be much worse than reliving your painful past over and over again. Little did I know that God's plan later would be to use these events to give me a burning passion for the closest most intimate love relationship with Himself through Christ mainly through the love poem in the Song of Songs in the Bible.
I remember hating Bob so much that the only thing that would relieve my pain was actually thinking he would suffer forever for what he did. I grew so much in my hatred for him that I had to continue to think that he would get even worse than what I imaged before. After some time I would only be relieved of hatred for him unless I thought he would burn in a hotter and hotter hell for all the suffering he put me through.
I never told my mom or family what happened, although I think some of them knew something had happened.
I grew up quite rebellious and even went to jail at the age of 20. I was living the fast life pursuing all my sinful desires and wanting more. It never seemed to be enough. I was quite happy in my sin but I just wanted more of it.
I lived life thinking I would die at a young age, riding motorcycle and living on the edge put me in the hospital many times and I should have been dead.
California at age 26.
I moved to California for a job opportunity at the age of 27. While trying to figure out what radio stations to program in my car, I ran across a RC Sproul talking about "people who have the faith that saves and people who only say that have faith" only the people who have the faith that saves will go to heaven. I thought "I don't think I have the faith that saves because my life was so bad." I searched the scriptures to try to get this faith. I found a church and thought people there could help me get this faith that saves. All along God kept showing me how sinful I was and that I deserved punishment from Him for living my life hating Him.
One weekend I read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John desperately trying to find out how to get this faith that saves. By now I knew that if you had the faith that saves that Jesus would be saving you from a life of sin. I still liked my sin and Jesus sure wasn't saving me from a life of sin, so I rightly concluded that I didn't have the faith that saves.
By the time I got to John, I saw "believe" everywhere. John 3:16 and other verses and wow the whole book was written so that you may believe. John 20:31 "these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." So at night I would pray "I believe Jesus died for me, I believe, I believe. This was just an intellectual belief. I knew that in history and the Bible that Jesus died for everyone, so I believed it. But this belief did not change my life.
I would go on night after night saying the same prayer only to wake up the next day wanting to fulfill my sinful desires. The prayer wasn't working so I started to word it different each time hoping some prayer would work. After about 2 weeks of this I was fed up with it all, nothing was happening. I still was living in my sin and wanted more of it. A Christian hates their sin and does something about it, and certainly they don't continue to make plans to sin. The prayers weren't working so I gave up. I thought to myself "God, I tried with all my might, I searched the Scriptures, went to church, read the Bible and prayed all to no avail. If Im going to be saved your going to have to do it because I tried."
So I quit praying but still the Bible kept calling me so I read more. 3 Days later I was laying in a tanning bed and God convicted me really hard that I had offended Him by the life I was living. I was so scared of God, where could I run. You can't hide from God. It seemed like forever that I was under these terrors of being punished by a Holy Angry God. This lasted about 10 minutes then this is how I understood it. God let me understand that all that anger that He had for me for all my sin should come my way but He had poured that anger out on Jesus 2,000 years ago. I immediately started weeping an couldn't stop for about 20 minutes. All the sins that I could think of I confessed for that 20 minutes one after another after another, I was so sorrowful and grieved it physically hurt inside.
After I stopped crying I thought that was the weirdest thing that ever happened. I walked out of the tanning salon and stood outside and everything seemed so beautiful, the tree's, the birds, even the air seemed pleasant. Now I was really wondering what was going on.
I pondered all of this as I drove to work that day. I brought my Bible to work and was thinking what am I doing, I want to take my Bible to work so I can read it. As soon as I got to work I started reading my Bible. I couldn't believe what I was reading!! It all was so wonderful. It felt so good to just read my Bible. My client showed up and as I was training them the only thing I could think about was getting back to my Bible. I read all night and slept about 2 hours and was reading again.
I had sinful things in my apartment and I rounded everything evil up and threw it in the garbage. It was weird I was thinking but it felt good so I left it all in the garbage. I called my girlfriend to break it up and she thought I had another girl, I said no, I just think this is wrong we shouldn't be sleeping together. She didn't understand so I told her I was a Christian now and she still thought I had another girlfriend. She said "Im glad your a Christian, so am I" I thought to myself, "I have a strong conviction that sleeping together is wrong and she thought it was okay" I wondered how she could think that. Anyway we broke up.
I kept reading my bible and repenting, there was so much to repent of and I had lived a very sinful life. I was a thief for some part of my life and all the people I stole from kept coming to mind. I owed so much money. I was instantly in debt about $80,000. As I could I paid them back. As of 7-18-2016 I still owe about $25,000 but it sure is a joy to be paying them back.
The first week of being saved a car just about ran me over, they hit me but I wasn't hurt at all. The guy in the car felt so bad. I just looked at him and said "God bless you and have a great day, I am okay" smiled at him and moved on. Now I was really wondering what was going on because I normally would have cussed him out left and right and instead of cussing I blessed him. That was so weird. But again it felt good. I learned to do good by what my conscience told me was good and that it felt good. I got hooked on this feeling good by doing good and did it more often.
About two weeks after being saved I thought of Bob. I immediately prayed for him, something like "Lord help him.." then I stopped praying and said out loud "What am I doing?" I'm praying for a man that I hated my whole life, but it feels good and right, so I did it again. I stopped again midway in the prayer and started pacing around. I was trying to make sense of what was going on and couldn't figure it out. But again it made me happy to pray for him so I did. Bob would often come to mind when I went to the bathroom and each time I would pray for Him. The more I did this the less weird it got. And the greater my love grew for him.
I started memorizing large portions of scripture and this was wonderful because it felt like the words were cleaning my mind and as Proverbs 2:10 "For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul." I wanted more and more of this pleasantness. So I memorized even more and the joy got more and more.
Then this life changing advice came:
A friend from church told me to find a book of the Bible and really understand it. Read through the Bible and pick one and read it over and over and study it and really get it. So I started in Genesis and read through. When I got to Proverbs I really liked it so I thought that would be the book. I started by memorizing all of Proverbs chapter 3. After that I thought maybe there is a better book than Proverbs. So I read on. Then I came to Song of Solomon. I read it with quite some confusion. It wasn't as good as the other books, I didn't know why. So I bought a commentary on it. George Burrowes commentary on the Song of Solomon.
In the commentary I found that George and other saw the book as illustrating God's love to the Church. And not only illustrating it but displaying the Love of Christ better than any other book. This caught my attention big time, because I was having a burning desire for a closer relationship with God and desperately learning about His Love so that I could Love God. You see I had hated Him for so long that God used that old hard heart to spur me on in loving Him. I so much did not want to hate God anymore that I was on fire to learn to Love Him as much and as fast as possible. So here was a book that would help me do that. So I landed on the Song of Solomon. I committed to learning as much of this book as possible.
I memorized the first chapter and would repeat it often throughout the day. I didn't know much of what I was repeating but it sure made me happier and on fire for God. I grew so fast repeating the first chapter over and over again all day, like a dozen times a day at least. It felt so good and I never found any other book that caused me to weep so much. I would often weep everyday just reading it. I was to immature to know what was going on. Even though it hurt to weep so much, I felt like my heart was being cleansed from the filth that was in it by repeating it over and over again so I did. As I read the commentary I understood more and more. What God was doing in me through the Song was greater and faster than any other portion of Scripture so I tended to stay there often. I was so excited about God that I thought it funny that other's in church weren't the same way. Some where happy but it seemed most of them didn't seem to care much about God. They would talk about work, football the weather. The only thing I wanted to talk about was Jesus and God and how can I grow closer to Him.
About this time there was a mission trip to Ireland.
I started to have convictions that I should try to find Bob and witness to him. I kept praying for him but how could he be saved if he hadn't heard the Gospel that has power unto salvation. So I asked family if they had any information. Like me before, my family hated him and thought he deserved hell. After some time I got his name but no location or phone number. Either they didn't know where he was or didn't want to tell me. I prayed some more and then started to get stronger convictions to do something about finding Bob.
So I went on the internet and typed in "his name and child molestation sex offender court" thinking that some court record would have some info leading to where I may find him" I even talked to a private eye and he couldn't help. So I googled some key words and spent hours each day looking through each page. I believed it was God's will for me to witness to Bob. I wanted him to be saved. Really bad. So much so that I thought God would save Bob if I were to witness to him. So I didn't stop searching for him. I kept my computer on each day and went page by page. It took two years to go through about 15,000 pages but I found someone who matched his name in a prison for molesting his grandchildren. I wrote the prison and he wrote back. All kinds of emotions went through my body when I saw his letter from the jail. I didn't open it right away but two hours later God gave me enough courage to face my fears again and I opened the letter. He admitted to being the one who molested me. We wrote back and forth I told him I was angry before but now I was saved and that I loved him and believed God wanted me to talk to him. He read my letters over and over again. I shared the gospel in each one.
I got mad at Bob 2x. Once he said that he love me. I got really angry with him. He didn't love me. That night it was hard to love Bob, I had to call a friend to pray for me to repent, after he prayed I felt greater love for Bob. Then I wrote him back saying "I'm sorry but you can't say that you loved me. You did not love me you lusted after me." He admitted he didn't love as he should have and admitted that it was lust and sinful. Finally some conviction. Yet I only thought he was saying that because I was being nice to him. All his family had left him and he said I was the only "friend" he had.
Wether or not it was true Bob said that he had cancer in his arm and that the help the prison gives was not enough and if he had money he could see a different doctor and get help. I sent him some money and since I was in jail before I knew what it was like to be in there without money, so I sent him money.
About 4-5 months in the economy went down, it was 2008. Work was hard. I still sent him money and I had to work harder. This was a really good lesson for me because I had to "work hard for the benefit of someone who did not deserve it." This was one of the greatest blessing ever because I realized with great certainty that Jesus was in me. This is what Jesus did. Jesus worked his whole life for me and I didn't deserve it!! Christ was in me! This was one of the best feelings ever and it put me in worship for months.
Then a mission trip to Croatia.
Each time I had to leave my business and amazing as it is I was completely okay each time. I am a self employed personal trainer and it is normally absurd to just leave and start over, but each time I had enough work within 2 weeks of coming back. This is a flat out miracle. I trusted God to provide and he did. How many people can start up a business in 2 weeks. Only with the help of God. God was teaching me early on in my walk that as long as I did what He wanted me to do then I had nothing to worry about.
About 3 years saved now.
I Taught the 4 year old's at church Sunday morning for 10 years.
Left my business 2x for mission trips and God miraculously provided when I came back.
I taught 5 x a week plus held a job.
Sunday morning to the kids.
Sunday night with the 5th graders
Friday afternoons at Good News Clubs. Sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship.
Friday Nights with the Kids teaching through Pilgrims Progress, I did this 2x
Teaching Monday afternoons at a nursing home. I taught through the Song of Songs once then John, then Romans then back to the Song again! I love the Song of Songs.
I grew up hating God for what happened to me, and now I love Him because He first loved me. My passion is for children to grow up loving God and not hating Him.
My other passion which has become ever greater is to help others see the Love of Christ to His Church in the Song of Songs!!
I would love to help you, just let me know and I will lead you and pray for you.
God demonstrates His love to us in sending His one and only Son to suffer in our place, taking our sins upon Himself so that whoever believes they get to heaven because of what He did for us will not perish but have everlasting life.