14. Forbearing

  1. Being a Christian in work is being forbearing. Following Jesus Christ in our work means being forbearing because Jesus is forbearing. He bore His cross patiently, suffered willingly. Suffering in our work gives us the opportunity to follow in Christ’s footsteps,349 to show our love,350 and to point to God the Father who is forbearing.351 From the Holy Spirit we receive the heart, wisdom, and strength to work forbearingly.
  2. Working forbearingly means realizing that we can suffer in many ways because of our work.352 We may suffer because our work is boring, humiliating, or exhausting. We may be underpaid, threatened, or discriminated against. Our work may be compulsory or under high performance pressure. We may be abused, oppressed, or repressed. We may be fired and be unemployed for long periods of time. We may be injured and psychologically and physically drained by our work. In addition, we may be pressured to violate God’s principles, or even be opposed or be eliminated because of our faith.
  3. Working forbearingly means that in our suffering we do not have to doubt God and our faith in Him. God does not promise that faith in Him and following Jesus will lead to happiness and prosperity in our work.353 If faith in God depends on Him rewarding our faith, then our faith is superficial at best and empty at worst. God makes use of all sorts of things to work for His Kingdom, but not necessarily for our prosperity.354
  4. Working forbearingly means that through suffering we profess God. Suffering at work for the sake of God is to profess Him; it shows the price we are willing to pay to follow God and what He means to us. Suffering at work may therefore be seen as a privilege to honor God because of our faith and through our suffering.355
  5. Working forbearingly means accepting God’s punishment of humanity because of the Fall. By willingly suffering in our work, we acknowledge our brokenness and that of the world.
  6. Working forbearingly means not becoming rebellious when we suffer. We don’t have to grumble356 and curse at work because then we curse at God. If we blame God for our pain and setbacks, we are using God’s name in vain. Frustrated and irritated people are not ambassadors of God’s appealing and comforting gospel.
  7. Working forbearingly means not complaining when we suffer. If Jesus did not complain when He carried His own cross and faced His death, where do we get the right and the sense to whine and whimper about our work?357 Those who moan and groan about work are dissatisfied with their work and do not accept that God is leading us.358 Moreover, God can use our suffering to make us better.359 If we would file a complaint or lawsuit in our work, then let us do so only if we feel supported by God and we can show forbearing toward the defendants during and after the process.
  8. Working forbearingly means renouncing ourselves. Even if the work becomes so unbearable, we may know that the cross that we carry is nothing compared to the one Jesus carried. We may look up to this cross when we look up to our work. If we have won the grand prize in life, then the devil has been defeated, and we can survive any setback in our work. If we must carry a cross in our work, then we should know that in doing so we are following Jesus and denying ourselves.360
  9. Working forbearingly means that in our suffering we acknowledge that we are infused with God’s grace361 and strength to endure the suffering. Moreover, when our suffering at work seems threateningly heavy, we should know that Jesus wants to share in these burdens and pains or even to bear them by Himself.
  10. Working forbearingly means being resigned to the suffering that others cause us. We do not need to re-act angrily, bitterly, and vindictively when others cause us to suffer.362 By resigning ourselves to the injustice done to us, we bear witness to the peace we find with God. Our heavenly happiness and bliss do not depend on our earthly well-being and prosperity. By resigning ourselves to the injustice done to us, we can testify to neighborly love and service as we work to address the injustices of others rather than ourselves.
  11. Working forbearingly does not mean being passive in the face of our suffering. If in our work we are treated unjustly and even abused, know that God supports us to fight this. God suffers with every injustice and God fights with everyone who fights injustice.
  12. Working forbearingly does not mean seeking suffering in our work. To seek suffering in or at work is not to profess faith in God, for then the suffering is not for the sake of God but of ourselves. God does not ask for self-chastisement. If we do not have to suffer in our work, then we must ask ourselves whether we are sufficiently professing our faith. If we don’t have to suffer in our work, then we have to fight to make sure that our faith doesn’t weaken.
  13. Working forbearingly means we may look to Jesus when our suffering threatens to become too much. Even if the hostility in our work is so great, we should know that Jesus faced even greater hostility but that He endured and withstood it.363

  1. 1 Peter 2:21
  2. 1 Corinthians 13:4
  3. Luke 18:7, Romans 2:4, Romans 3:25, 2 Peter 3:9
  4. 2 Corinthians 6:4-5
  5. 1 Peter 4:12
  1. Romans 8:28
  2. Acts 5:41
  3. Philippians 2:14-16
  4. Ephesians. 6:7, Colossians 3:23
  5. Philippians 2:14
  1. Job 23:10, Job 23:14, Matthew 5:10-12, Romans 8:18, Philippians 1:29, Philippians 3:10, 2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 4:12-16
  2. Luke 9:23
  3. Matthew 5:10
  4. 1 Peter 2:21
  5. Hebrews 12:3


  1. Which Bible verse about forbearance do I find particularly appealing and provides guidance for what working forbearingly means (to me)?
  2. To what extent do I agree with the above summary of what working forbearingly means?
  3. Are there any missing elements in the above list of what working forbearingly means? If so, which ones?
  4. How would I personally describe what working forbearingly means for Christians?
  5. How would I describe concretely what working forbearingly means for me?
  6. To what extent do I subscribe to the idea that forbearance is an important characteristic/virtue for Christians in their work?
  7. To what extent do I subscribe to the idea that forbearance is an important guideline/principle for the behavior of Christians in their work?
  8. To what extent is forbearance an important virtue and principle for me in my work?
  9. How do I experience the importance of forbearance in my work?
  10. Do I work to bring about forbearance? Do I do so wholeheartedly?
  11. To what extent can I work forbearingly in my work?
  12. How often have I recently brought forbearance to my work?
  13. How forbearingly do I do my work? How does it show?
  14. To what extent do I use forbearance as a principle for my behavior in my work? Could I illustrate this using the decisions I have recently made in my work?
  15. When I look back at my working life, could I say that I have increasingly become more forbearing in my behavior?
  16. To what extent do people I work with think I act forbearingly in my work? What have they said to me about this?
  17. To what extent do I think God thinks I act forbearingly in my work?
  18. How can I become and act more forbearingly in my work? How would I do this concretely?
  19. Which elements of working forbearingly am I going to bring more of in my next working day?
  20. What am I going to say in a prayer to God about working forbearingly?
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