Vol.XII No.IX Pg.3
November 1975


Dan S. Shipley

The coined word shortsuffering wont be found in a dictionary, but the disposition it pictures is much in evidence, even among Gods people. In it is conveyed an idea that is readily apparent to most Bible students. Whereas longsuffering primarily describes patience with people, short suffering is the very opposite. He will not long tolerate that which he finds objectionable in others. He seeks hasty retaliation and prompt punishment for all real or imagined wrongs suffered. He is apt to give someone a piece of his mind or to get them told with little if any forethought or gentleness — and even take pride in having done so. The shortsufferer not only falls short in his suffering with, but in many other things at the same time.

For instance, the shortsufferer falls short in partaking of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Peter writes of how Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example in that when he was reviled, he reviled not again and in suffering, threatened not (1 Pet. 2:21, 22). Our Example did no sin to deserve such treatment and neither did he any sin to revenge such treatment. Such conduct was in exact harmony with his teaching. He said, ...do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you. (Lk. 6:27, 28) And how much more benevolent ought we to be to those who do less? Gods longsuffering waited in the days of Noah (1 Pet. 3:20) and it waits again, enduring vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction (Rom. 9:22). God waits for men to repent. Should His people do less? We need a longsuffering God. Most of us need longsuffering brethren to bear with our weaknesses. How can we afford to be short on what we need them to be long on? The divine nature is longsuffering to all (1 Thss. 5:l4).

In addition, the shortsufferer shows himself to be short on love (1Cor. 13:4). Love sees the objectionable, but loves anyway. On the long-suffering of love William Barclay says it expresses a certain attitude toward people which never loses patience with them, however unreasonable they may be, and which never loses hope for them, however unlovely and unteachable they may be. Unlike shortsuffering, love is ever considerate. It is the antidote for this and a multitude of similar sins. Nothing stretches suffering like love.

Further, the shortsufferer is short on what it takes to be an effective teacher. Our reproving, rebuking and exhorting is to be done with all longsuffering (2 Tim. 4:2). Not all learners are of the Cornelius and Lydia type. Many come to learn with obnoxious habits, warped concepts, sins, prejudices and Other things that might be distasteful to teachers. This is no place for the shortsufferer. If we have to get every student shaped-up before we begin to teach, then what and who will we teach?

To be sure, the shortcomings of the shortsufferer are numerous and serious. Wouldnt it be tragic not to recognize such a sin in self; or, seeing it, not to care?