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Week 7 Lesson: Forbearing

A Precious Word from God

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another . . .”

Colossians 3:12-13a (NET)

A Precious Word from God

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another . . .”

Colossians 3:12-13a (NET)

My sister and I used to get in fights as children. We hit one another often! There was no turning the other cheek involved. If I got angry, I hit her; if she hit me, I hit her back! We had no clue what it meant to forbear with one another, but even if we had, I doubt that we would have done it in the heat of battle.

Forbearing with others grows out of the humility that we discussed last week. If we don’t recognize our own sins and failures before God, we feel the need to take our own revenge, make sure that others get what they deserve, or retaliate in kind. Forbear means “1) to hold up; 2) to hold one's self erect and firm; 3) to sustain, to bear, to endure.”6 It suggests sustaining whatever comes at you and holding self back from reacting to it.

Day One Study

In light of the above definition, read 1 Pet. 2:20-25.

Diamonds in the Word: Look up the Greek word for forbearance in a Greek tool or a commentary. Write down any additional insights that you receive.

1. The word in these verses is endure, not forbear; however, the entire passage suggests forbearance. How would you describe Jesus’ forbearance from these verses?

2. Explain what Peter is teaching us through Jesus’ model of forbearance. In other words, what does it look like for us as believers to forbear?

3. Read Lk. 23:33-34. How would you explain the relationship between forgiveness and forbearance?

4. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus paints a picture of Christianity as very counter-cultural. What would it look like to forbear according to Mt. 5:38-42, even though that term is not used here?

5. Sharing question: What makes forbearance so difficult from your own experience? In what situation or with which person is it hardest for you personally to forbear?

6. Responding to God: Talk to God about the need to forbear with others. Confess any lack of forbearance on your part, particularly with that person or in that situation you mentioned in the previous question.

Day Two Study

This week’s character is Abigail, one of my favorite women of the Bible! Read 1 Sam. 25:2-3, as your introduction to her.

7. How does God describe Abigail and her husband?

The NET Bible says this about Nabal: “The name נָבָל (Nabal) means “foolish” or “senseless” in Hebrew, and as an adjective the word is used especially of persons who have no perception of ethical or religious claims. It is an apt name for this character, who certainly typifies such behavior.”7

Before we get further into Abigail’s story, I want us to look at what is often called “the Proverbs 31 woman” because we can see Abigail in some of the descriptions. As you read, keep in mind that this “perfect” woman lived in a culture very different from our own so don’t get overwhelmed with the specifics of what she did! These are truly glimpses of godliness in a woman so we are considering her character qualities. Although our focus is on forbearance, we still want to give some thought to Abigail’s other great traits.

Read Pr. 31:10-31.

8. Describe the qualities of this ideal woman. Try not to focus on the specifics of what she did, but think about what those activities reveal about her character.

Diamonds in the Word: Read in your resources about the woman of Pr. 31.

9. Sharing question: What one characteristic of the Pr. 31 woman most stands out to you as you read this passage? Why?

10. Sharing question: What one area that you listed in #8 is your greatest weakness? What one thing can you do this week to do a better job in that area? (Although we are focusing on character and not specific actions, remember that the actions do reflect what is in the inner heart.)

 

11. Responding to God: Draw a picture of yourself as a Proverbs 31 woman. (I realize this may take creativity, and if you are like me, you have very little; however, please try:) Perhaps, you can incorporate that possible action that you mentioned in the previous question. Envision what God wants you to be, and believe that he can make those changes as you yield to him:) Talk to God about your picture!

I would say that Abigail epitomizes Pr. 31:30-31. As you read her story over the next few days, keep these verses in mind and see what you think!

Day Three Study

Abigail’s story occurred in David’s life when he ran from Saul, who was trying to kill him, as we saw in Week Five lesson on Jonathan. Keep that in mind as we continue her story.

Read 1 Sam.25:4-13

12. What did David request from Nabal? How had he and his men treated Nabal? What was the tone of his message? (vv.4-8)

This commentary note may help you better understand David’s message:

Nabal lived in a wilderness area and owned thousands of sheep and goats, and so was a prime target for thieves. David and his men had generously protected Nabal’s flocks and possessions (vv. 15, 16, 21).Since it was the time of sheepshearing, Nabal would have had plenty of cash from the sale of the wool to reward David and his men for their services.8

In addition, a feast day was a time of generosity and hospitality so it was fitting and appropriate for Nabal to fulfill David’s request.

Diamonds in the Word: Do additional research on David’s request and the holiday Nabal was celebrating in 1 Sam. 25:4-8.

13. Compare Nabal’s response and its tone (vv.10-11) to the description of him in 1 Sam. 25:3. What are your insights?

14. How did David react to Nabal’s rude treatment and harsh words (vv. 13-14)? What did he plan to do and to whom?

15. Imagine Abigail’s life married to a man like Nabal. What kind of situations might that create for her? (As you consider this, remember that in the culture of that day women were not well-respected or honored, and they had no recourse because of the low status given to women in general, even among God’s people.)

16. Responding to God: Is there anyone in your life to whom you are ungrateful? Is there a person to whom you should show gratitude today because of their help to you? Perhaps it’s someone who works unnoticed at the grocery store or a favorite restaurant; it may be a co-worker who helps you in various ways. Ask God to help you see those who are behind the scenes serving and to give you ways to thank them.

Day Four Study

Review 1 Sam. 25:3-13 and read vv. 14-17.

 

17. Abigail received a report of what happened from a servant. How did the servant assess the situation? How did he feel about David and his men, and how did he see Nabal’s refusal of hospitality?

Diamonds in the Word: Read what others say about Abigail’s choice not to tell Nabal what she was doing, which was clearly against his wishes.

Read 1 Sam. 25:18-31 for Abigail’s response.

18. Summarize what Abigail did after hearing the story.

19. How would you describe Abigail’s tone toward David? What specifically did she say that would lead you to express it in that way?

20. Abigail was forbearing toward Nabal, whom God described as harsh. Despite having to live with such a difficult man who was probably verbally abusive, she treated him with love and grace. She could have handled this situation in a way that would exact revenge or release her from her hard situation. What other options could she have chosen?

21. How do these verses describe Abigail?

    a. Col. 3:12-13a (includes this week’s verse)

    b. 1 Pet. 3:9

    c. Eph. 4:30-32

 

22. Sharing question: What one person in your life is most difficult for you? Why? (If it is your husband, you may share that with the group but without berating him to them.) Instead of focusing on the other person’s problem as you share, request prayer that God will give you the grace to be forbearing and kind, not returning evil for evil. Write this as your prayer request without specifying the person, in case these are emailed out.

23. Responding to God: Talk to God about growing in godliness by becoming a forbearing person like Jesus. Write down your prayer or poem below.

Day Five Study

Review 1 Sam. 25:18-31, and read 1 Sam. 25:32-35.

24. What did David learn from Abigail? How does it relate to forbearance?

Read 1 Sam. 25:36-42.

25. Summarize the rest of the story.

Diamonds in the Word: Read more about 1 Sam. 25:36-38 in any resources available to you.

26. Sharing question: How can the truths of Rom. 8:28-29 help you persevere and forbear when faced with a difficult person?

27. In what ways do you see God’s work in and through Abigail?

28. Responding to God: Ask God for grace to grow in all the areas of godliness so that your life can witness to others about what God is like and how he would have us live.

The difficulties and injustices done to the family in today’s story are all too common in the church; however, Abbie’s response is very rare, unfortunately.

Abbie’s Story

Not too long ago, my husband was an elder at our local church. He was serving amongst a group of men who together were learning what it meant to be elders, for we had recently planted this fast-growing church. None of them had served as an elder for very long before, and each took their new responsibility very seriously.

As the year progressed, an unfortunate turn of events happened in our life. The elders came to a disagreement about how to handle a particular church issue. Disagreements among elder boards are common, and we were not alarmed knowing this was the case. We spent many long hours praying as a couple that the Lord would lead the board, and that He would give them wisdom as they wrestle with these tough issues. What we didn’t know at the time was that the lead elder allowed bitterness in his heart to grow towards my husband. When the elders could not come to a consensus on how to handle the issue, it was decided in secret meetings without my husband that he should be asked off the board. Not only that, but that he and our family should leave the church, immediately! My husband had not committed any sexual or moral sin, nor did he disagree with the doctrine of the church. He became a pawn in a game of control and influence, and we and our children paid the price deeply.

We still live in the small town where these events occurred, and we run into people often from the church. The congregation at large does not know the details of these events. Most think we left the church by choice. Herein lies our test. Do we try and vindicate and defend ourselves, or do we carefully entrust ourselves to the one who sees all things and judges justly? The answer seems clear and obvious, but once I am in a conversation and I am being asked direct questions, the temptation to gossip and vindicate is very strong. It is such a difficult thing to resist, especially when our hurting children want to know why they can’t go back to the church they loved.

Yet the Lord has shown us in His word how to forebear and trust Him. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant for good. God is sovereign, and no man can thwart His plans for our lives. Also, He reminded us of the following verses: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak (Matthew 12:36)”; and “Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops (Luke 12:3).” God wants us to be careful of how we speak of people who have hurt us. If we believe that He is sovereign, then we must believe He is in control of our pain. He has called us to live as children of the light, who do not hide nor conceal anything that we would be ashamed of should it be “proclaimed on the housetops.”

My husband and I are still waiting for God to make right the wrong that was done to us. Because of His counsel through His Word, we are motivated to keep our mouths quiet and trust that He will do it in His timing and in His perfect way (Psalm 18:30).

Growing in Godliness for Moms - Forbearing

This week we looked at Abigail and her forbearance with her foolish husband Nabal. Abigail not only endured in her relationship with Nabal, but she also seemed to be doing well in spite of her circumstances.

Do you have a difficult person in your life? If the person who is difficult to be around is someone at a gas station or at the grocery store, you can change where you shop. But what if the person is someone in your family? The story of Abigail reminds us that God has neither forgotten us nor the circumstances we are facing even when things look bleak. God is still working and He wants to use us even when we are forced to deal with a person who is harsh and evil.

Our being able to forbear in difficult situations will be a model for our children. Our children will have teachers at school that are unfair at times. Our children may have personality conflicts with someone in authority over them. As a mom, I always want to fix everything. Sometimes I cannot “fix” a situation for my child, but God is working in the midst of that situation to bring about His will.

Abigail exhibited patient endurance in her marriage, but this did not prevent her from taking action. When David threatened to kill every male in her household, she took immediate steps to resolve the crisis. Her forbearance with the situation did not paralyze her! I think this has application for us as moms. We may patiently endure when we cannot change a person or a circumstance. We pray and ask God to change a heart or a situation. When we have the opportunity to appeal, we may do that.

One of the things I did not anticipate when I became a mother was that I would need to be able both to forbear in difficult situations and to learn to make an appeal. If we really believe that God is sovereign, we can pray, make an appeal, and leave the result to Him. Sometimes the Lord has answered by changing the situation and sometimes He has changed me or my attitude toward the situation. Sometimes things have not changed much and I am still working to adjust my attitude.

Proverbs 25:15

Through forbearance a ruler can be persuaded,

And a soft tongue can break a bone.

Action Step: Is there a situation in your life or in the life of one of your children that requires forbearance? Teach your children the 50:20 principle found in Genesis 50:20a. “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” Write out a prayer asking God to give both you and your children patient endurance. Tell Him that even though others may have meant the situation for evil, you know that He will use it for good.


6 Strong’s #430

7 Note on 1 Sam. 25:3 in The NET Bible.

8 Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary, ed. Earl Radmacher, Ronald B. Allen, H. Wayne House (Nashville; Thomas Nelson Publishers), 377.

Related Topics: Spiritual Life, Forgiveness, Character Study, Curriculum