“Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
The good Lord has given me ample opportunity this week to be patient. And when I failed (every time I failed) I vented my frustrations without thinking. Words just spilled out along with a bad attitude. Immediate conviction sets in. Patience is not easy, especially for those who fight pride on a daily basis (Imagine a big flashing arrow blinking over my head right now).
Why is it so hard to listen to a second grader take 30 minutes to read 6 pages out of his emerging reader? Why do I snap at my husband over his socks being on the floor of the dining room again (at least he is consistent). Why do I lose my cool when inanimate objects fall, break, or seemingly jump in from of me causing me to stub my toe? (This one really seems ridiculous upon reflection.)
Even more convicting is the many stories of bold Christians enduring persecution and even death for the sake of their faith and their love of Jesus Christ. They are giving their lives in obedience to the command to “love one another” while I struggle to patiently love my faithful, loving husband and precious children.
I will tell you it is harder for me on days where I have been rushing and have not had time in prayer or God’s word. But in those moments when I am choosing to put others first, listening, praying, and forgetting about my own wants and desires, the Holy Spirit pours forth the patience and I am abiding in the love of Christ. It is a gift, and a choice. It is there waiting to be asked for and when I humbly come knocking, seeking, asking, it is opened, found and received.
In the first post of the Abide in My Love Series, we defined Jesus’ love for us through the eyes of the gospel of His grace. Oh how marvelous is the grace of our loving Lord, poured out for us at the cross as the ultimate sacrifice. And this loving sacrifice cultivates in us humility to love others.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Paul describes love as having the qualities of a person to give us an example of what it looks like to “love one another”. I believe he can undoubtedly be describing Jesus Christ. He is our example of love, and if “love is patient”, then he will be perfect in it.
But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:16)
As Paul describes to Timothy in his letter, he received mercy because he had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of the Lord overflowed for him with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:13-14) And what was Paul’s reaction to this gift of grace? He made Christ the foremost of himself. For Jesus’ sake he suffered the loss of all things and counted them as rubbish, in order that he may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8) That is SACRIFICE OF SELF.
How else does God show patience?
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
He cares that much that he is willing to wait until more know him and can become his children. Oh how powerful it would be if the next time we were under the afflictions of another, instead of letting anger take control we said to ourselves, “I am willing to endure this pain silently in the hopes that my patience and love for them might lead them into repentance.”
The King James Version uses the term “long-suffering” in Galatians 2:22 when it is listed as a fruit of the Spirit. And in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is says “Charity suffereth long”.
The Greek translation is makrothyméō – to be of long spirit, not to lose heart, to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles, to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others.
We can conclude that patience is passive. One scholar defined it as the quality of putting up with other people, even when sorely tried. We are called to be patient in this love for one another. Let’s look at some passages that define our calling a little more.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)
This “quickness to listen and slowness to speak and to be angered” is patience. James contrasts it here with anger. Whether you are annoyed and offended by another person’s actions or are the victim of their affliction, keeping silent goes a long way. If the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, than we can conclude that patience does. Consider this verse.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. (2 Timothy 2:22-25)
If we are pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace, then we are avoiding conflict and being kind while “patiently enduring evil”, and correcting others with gentleness. It is a sacrifice of self, this love that Jesus commands from us. And patience is the first step; it is love doing nothing. Then from patience we are in the right place to give kindness and gentleness. But if we let our hurt and frustrations come screaming to the forefront, there is no room left for the kindness and gentleness, without first seeking forgiveness.
How else are we called to be patient? In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains what he meant by the seeds that fell on the good soil.
As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15)
When we are abiding in Christ, His love, and His Word, we will bear fruit WITH PATIENCE. “For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) They all go together, you cannot have one and not the other.
In Ephesians 4:2 we are called to “walk in it”.
Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)
In Colossians 3:12 we are called to “clothe ourselves in it”.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (Colossians 3:12)
In 2 Corinthians 6:4-8, Paul describes how we can suffer yet endure with patience.
But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true. (2 Corinthians 6:4-8)
In Romans 12:12, Paul calls us to be patient in tribulation.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:9-12)
And in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul calls us to be patient with all sorts of characters.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
The Lord teaches us and enables us to love, as God loves and to be patient, as Christ is patient.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
Here are some questions we can ask ourselves.
- What current situation calls for you to have patience?
- What person or situation is causing you the most pain right now?
- What attitude do you think God desires from you in this situation, especially when you consider the patience of Christ?
It is far easier for us to give into our emotions and anger when someone has hurt us, than it is to practice patience. Sometimes it takes all of God’s strength for us to DO NOTHING. But when you consider the silence of the Lamb of God as he gave his life for us while we were yet sinners, you can know that the humility and strength we need is God’s free gift to us in His grace and LOVE.
ABIDE IN IT.
- If I Have Not Love- Abide in My Love Series (abidingheartsathome.wordpress.com)
- Abide in My Love- Series Introduction (abidingheartsathome.wordpress.com)