The first taste of this part of the fruit may seem bitter for awhile. We will go on to discover that it’s wonderfully sweet! If you haven’t made the connection yet, all of these unique tastes are really the character qualities of Jesus. This is why we must be born again and walk closely with our Savior and Lord. None of us can bear this nine-fold fruit consistently and with the right motives by self-effort. This bitter-sweet part of today’s fruit is longsuffering. In simple terms we are to suffer long. What does this mean? It means that when we are wronged, offended, etc. we “take it!” We don’t have to retaliate or seek revenge. We can let God deal with the offender, while praying for and forgiving him or her. In fact, when someone wrongs us, they have become our mission field and our mission is to pray for them. We need to pray that God will deliver them from wrong-doing. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). These two stanzas from, “O to Be Like Thee,” by Thomas O. Chisholm are how we are to pray for restraint and for those who have wronged us: “Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion, loving, forgiving, tender and kind, helping the helpless, cheering the fainting, seeking the wand’ring sinner to find. Oh! to be like Thee, lowly in spirit, holy and harmless, patient and brave; meekly enduring cruel reproaches, willing to suffer, others to save.” Selah! As the Holy Spirit produces this extraordinary fruit in our lives, it catches the attention of some who might seek that fruit for their lives. Pray that God will keep this fruit free from blight that we might cause, and that we might be free from causing it.   Ron

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