Read Colossians 3:12, 13. In the congregation, mildness and long-suffering work hand in hand to promote peace. Both of these aspects of the spirit’s fruitage help us to deal graciously with others, to remain calm under provocation, and to avoid retaliating when others say or do unkind things. If we have a difference with a fellow Christian, long-suffering, or patience, will help us not to give up on our brother or sister but to do what we can to heal the breach. Are mildness and long-suffering really needed in the congregation? Yes, because all of us are imperfect.
Consider what took place between Paul and Barnabas. They had worked side by side for years in advancement of the good news. Each had commendable qualities. Yet, on one occasion, there occurred between them “a sharp burst of anger, so that they separated from each other.” (Acts 15:36-39) This incident underscores that even among devoted servants of God, disagreements will at times arise. If a Christian has a misunderstanding with a fellow believer, what might he do to prevent the situation from escalating into a heated exchange that could result in a lasting rift?
As is indicated by the phrase “a sharp burst of anger,” the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas was sudden and intense. If a Christian senses that he is becoming angry when discussing a matter with a fellow believer, he is wise to heed the counsel found at James 1:19, 20: “Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath; for man’s wrath does not work out God’s righteousness.” Depending on the circumstances, he might try to change the subject, defer the discussion, or excuse himself before the conversation becomes heated.—Prov. 12:16; 17:14; 29:11.
What are the benefits of following this counsel? By taking time to calm down, pray about the matter, and consider how best to reply, a Christian allows himself to be led by God’s spirit. (Prov. 15:1, 28) Under the influence of the spirit, he can manifest mildness and long-suffering. He is thereby equipped to heed the counsel found at Ephesians 4:26, 29: “Be wrathful, and yet do not sin . . . Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers.” Indeed, when we clothe ourselves with mildness and long-suffering, we contribute to the peace and unity of the congregation.