Forbearance: the quality of someone who is patient and able to deal with a difficult person or situation without becoming angry. (

In Law: the action of refraining from exercising a legal right, esp. enforcing the payment of a debt. (New Oxford American Dictionary)

In this age of litigation, forbearance in general and in legal matters is rare. No one wants to get taken advantage of, and getting less than is due is seen more as a failure of judgement than an act of virtue or wisdom.

I know two men whose lives reveal this action of the Spirit. Bob, a small town lawyer, and Bill, a businessman. Bob developed a piece of property with three of his friends, and Bill brought a partner into his growing business. Bob’s three friends pulled out of the deal, leaving Bob to pay off the debt. Bill’s friend took money from the business, leaving him with little to show for years of work.

I didn’t know Bob or Bill when these things happened, but I’ve had the privilege of knowing them both for many years. Neither one is bitter, and anger doesn’t rule them. Whatever the cost of betrayal and bad behavior, they paid it in full.

Why is forbearance possible for them when it seems out of reach for so many others? Maybe they live a truth many have forgotten: we act with generosity and forbearance not because someone else is worthy of it, but because it is how God acts with us.

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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