God’s patience with me not only causes me to want to imitate Him, but it also creates in me a desire to express my gratitude to Him by obediently being patient with others. This is the second point made by Jonathan Edwards in his sermon on how to meekly bear with others with a loving and forgiving heart.
All block quotes are from “Charity Disposes Us Meekly to Bear the Injuries Received from Others” by Jonathan Edwards
They that love God as they ought, will have such a sense of [H]is wonderful long-suffering toward them under the many injuries they have offered to [H]im, that it will seem to them but a small thing to bear with the injuries that have been offered to them by their fellow-men… [I]f they should refuse to exercise long-suffering toward those that have injured them, they would practically disapprove of God’s long-suffering toward themselves.
When I was first saved, I was acutely aware of my sins and the peace that came from being forgiven by God for them. Jesus suffered greatly so that the price for my sins would be paid in full; nothing compares with this gift.
How can I express my gratitude to the Gift-Giver? He tells us what He wants in Matthew 22:37-38: “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment.The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Ephesians 4:32 explains that one way to love my neighbor is to “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” In plain language, God is clearly telling me to love others as He has loved me… by forgiving them. My gratitude as a recipient of forgiveness should be expressed by forgiving others, including the doctor.
When I reflect on the multitude of sins I have committed, I am humbled by the difference between my human tendencies and the purity of God. This leads to Edwards’ third point: love to God tends to humility.
Love to God, as it exalts [H]im, 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.
If I humbly reflect on my unworthiness, how could I possibly conclude that I (or my children) deserve to be treated better than I/they have. The root of such a thought is pride.
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.
Humility is connected with patience (or long-suffering or forbearance) in Ephesians 4:2. Both are accomplished “in love,” which is the root of all the fruits a Christian should produce. This point, coupled with the others in this sermon, serve to help me have a good, true, and loving response in my difficult situation.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.