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What the Bible Says About Forbearance

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Forbearance is not a word that you hear very often because people use other words in place of it. Some people find it hard to forbear and others have no problem with it when they think of God as a prime example of forbearance.

Forbearance: Definition and Synonyms

The word "forbearance" is found in the King James Version of the Bible, but not in some modern versions. Instead of saying "forbearance," most people prefer saying synonyms like "patience, longsuffering, restraint, self-control, showing mercy, or being tolerant of one's action and behavior." Forbearance also means waiting, being silent, and standing still.

To demonstrate forbearance is to abstain or hold back when you really want to fly off the handle. Forbearance is having patience when you are impatient. Forbearance is having self-control when it is very challenging to keep your cool. Forbearance is keeping your mouth closed when you want to say a lot.

Biblical Examples of Forbearance

God shows forbearance to us all the time. Therefore, we should show it toward others. God is patient with us by giving us chance after chance to do things the right way. He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love for us. Since God is that way toward us, we should be that way toward others.

God shows that He has forbearance by holding back or restraining His wrath when we sin against Him, against others, and against ourselves. God shows forbearance when He doesn't give us the judgment we deserve. God is long-suffering, and we should be like Him by being slow to punish others when they do us wrong.

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, KJV). Forbearance refers to God’s kindness, mercy, and kindness by holding back rightful judgment.

Paul teaches that God shows forbearance when He withholds His wrath. Instead, He makes known to us His power and discloses the riches of His glory in order to lead others to repentance. Paul warns us not to be hasty in judging others ourselves. We should leave it up to God to forbear and to judge others on our behalf.

Peter declared, “The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:4).

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David teaches us forbearance through his actions. King Saul set out to kill David on many occasions. However, David practiced forbearance by not killing Saul when he had several opportunities to do so. He left vengeance up to God.

Forbearance Scriptures

There are many words in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that are used to express the concept of forbearance even though that exact word might not always be used.

When you are tempted not to forbear, remember the scriptures in the Bible that teach us what to do. “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another" (Colossians 3:12–13). The New Living Translation of the Bible explains, "Forbearing is the act of making allowances for the faults of others and forgiving those who offend you.”

Forbearance is a quality of God that is seen throughout the Bible as it manifests itself as patience, endurance, gentleness, tolerance, and moderation (Proverbs 25:15).

Waiting on the Lord is an indication of forbearance. It could be that God requires us to wait upon Him in order to help us develop forbearance. When we’ve learned to wait upon the Lord, we find it easier to forbear with our brothers and sisters (1 Peter 3:8).


Forbearance: A Fruit of the Spirit

Forbearance is a fruit of the spirit along with other related qualities. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Notice that when you display forbearance, you are also using many of the other characteristics. For example, you show love and kindness when you put up with the faults of others.

A Sure Remedy For Forbearance

Showing forbearance is not hard. In fact, it is so simple that you might not believe it really works. The next time (and there will be a next time) someone does something that gets on your nerves, just breathe!

When you cannot forbear on your own, let God help you do it. Simply breathe in God and breathe out your frustration.

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