The Experience and Growth in Life, by Witness Lee

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Philippians 4:5-8 form one section in which the first item touched is forbearance. The content of forbearance includes all the human virtues mentioned in verse 8. Forbearance is the sum total of our human virtues. Forbearance is the top virtue because it is all-inclusive. Eventually, forbearance is just Christ Himself.

In verse 5 we are encouraged to express Christ as our forbearance. But the thing which opposes forbearance is our anxiety (v. 6). Anxiety is versus forbearance. If you live Christ, the character of your expression will be forbearance. But if you are a person who is full of anxiety, the character of your expression will be worry. Our anxiety can be turned into forbearance by bringing every need, every request, to God (v. 6) and by conversing with Him. To converse implies a kind of traffic back and forth. Every morning, regardless of how busy we are, we need such traffic between us and God. This kind of traffic brings in the divine dispensing, reduces our anxiety, and builds up our forbearance. It is by this traffic, the fellowship between us and God, that we enjoy the divine dispensing.

When you are full of forbearance, it will be difficult for you to lose your temper or to condemn or criticize others. You also will not appraise people too highly. You will be fitting in every way. As a guest in someone’s home, you may be served tea. If you are a person full of forbearance, whether the tea is hot, cold, or lukewarm, you will not express anything. It should also be the same in the church life. If you are a person full of forbearance, the church life may be full of turmoil, but to your feeling of forbearance, the church life is wonderful. This feeling may seem contrary to the facts, but according to your sense of forbearance, the church is really wonderful. The church is always wonderful according to its nature, but sometimes according to its condition, it may not be so wonderful. Regardless of its condition, we should always go along with the church according to its nature. Your father is your father by birth, not by his condition. At times his condition may not be so good, but he is still your father.

Forbearance is to be very moderate and very natural, neither too hot nor too cold. With forbearance we are able to go along with any person, regardless of their temperament or disposition. If, however, we move and act only according to our own likes and dislikes, we do not have a life of forbearance. When we have learned the lessons in the divine life, we can easily be with another person in their situation without any complaints. If they walk fast, we will walk fast. If they walk slowly, we will walk slowly. If they stop, we will stop. If they sit down, we will sit down. Forbearance is a real test to the kind of life we are living. Many times, for example, the wife cannot sit in the car while her husband is driving without complaining about his driving. It is very difficult for the wife to forbear while her husband drives.


A virtue mentioned in Philippians 4:8 is “honorable.” Honor means dignity. With God in His divinity, it is a matter of His glory, but with us in our humanity, it is a matter of honor or dignity. When Christ ascended to the heavens, He was crowned with both glory and honor (Heb. 2:7) because He is a person who is both divine and human. In His divinity He received glory, and in His humanity He received honor and dignity.

(The Experience and Growth in Life, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)