Welcome to our Summer Love series, opening with our first love marker: patience.
You probably know the Bible’s chapter called the Hymn of Love:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Did you realize Paul’s beautiful words to the Corinthians about how to use spiritual gifts. . .in the church?
In these verses, Paul gives all of us the perfect definition of love. You can apply it to husbands and wives, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and even enemies. In our Summer Love series, we’ll unpack this definition, one keyword at a time, and learn how to apply it.
Do you want to grow in love? Do you need help with patience or kindness or resentment or hope or endurance? Then you’ll learn from these blog posts by guest author Pastor Matthew Black of Living Hope Church in suburban Chicago. Pastor Matt kindly let us excerpt sections of a chapter in his forthcoming book The Marriage Enrichment Book. –Ed.
Love Is Patient
The context of 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 is spiritual gifts and growing to be like Christ. That takes time, doesn’t it?
It’s no surprise that Paul’s first instruction is that love is patient. Have you ever prayed for patience? It means to “suffer long.” It has the idea of having a “long fuse” or to be “long-tempered.” It is the exact opposite of our expression “short-fused.”
“In our dealings with people, however stubborn and however unkind and hurting they are, we must exercise the same patience as God exercises with us. Such patience is not the sign of weakness but the sign of strength.” ~William Barclay
When patient, you’re slow to anger and you endure personal wrongs with gentleness, without retaliation. You bear with the others’ imperfections, faults, and differences. You give them time to change and room to make mistakes.
John MacArthur said it this way:
“Love’s patience is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person over and over again and yet not be upset or angry.”
How do you act when you’ve been inconvenienced or wronged by someone? On our leadership teams at church, we like to say we need to have “thick skin and a big heart.” That’s patience. Love is big-hearted, giving people room to grow and change.
Love Has No Clock
Patience waits for a godly outcome. Patience is how love reacts in order to bring peace of Christ to a negative situation. When you don’t get what you want, how do you react? A lack of patience will turn your home into a war zone. Patience waits and refuses to give in to sinful anger.
Love has no clock. It’s not just 9-5. It’s 24-7. You have to help your brothers and sisters at 1 in the afternoon and sometimes at 1 in the morning.
Patience Refuses to Retaliate
Chrysostom, an early church leader, said, “It is a word which is used of the man who is wronged and who has it easily in his power to avenge himself but will never do it.” He is like a ship “settled as it were in a harbor, enjoys a profound calm.”
Understand that patience is not just “white-knuckling” your emotions in order to hold back rage. Rather, patience is joyfully submitting to Christ for the good of another person. Jesus submitted to death on a cross; you and and I are to joyfully submit to Christ knowing the outcome will be good.
. . .looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12.2, ESV
Patience Is Not Indifference
Let’s be careful to distinguish patience from indifference. Patience bears with an offence, but indifference ignores it altogether. When an offense takes place that is harmful or destructive to oneself or to others, it must not be entirely overlooked.
Paul, for instance, loved the Corinthians. He patiently bore with them and worked with them slowly and carefully to edify them and honor Christ.
In Charity and Its Fruits, Jonathan Edwards said that patience means “we should be willing to suffer injuries without doing anything to get revenge either with injurious deeds or with bitter words. It means that we will bear injuries from others without losing the quietness and repose of our own hearts and minds–that when we are injured we will be willing to suffer much for the sake of peace, rather than do what we have the opportunity and perhaps right to do in defending ourselves.”
Follow the Example of Jesus
The supreme example of patience, of course, is God Himself.
God is love.1 John 4:8
It is God’s patient love that prevents the world from being destroyed by His righteous and holy judgment. It is His patience and long–suffering that allows time for men to be saved.
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
Consider our Lord as an example of perfect patience. While the Lord Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross, after He had endured all that He had endured, He said this about His killers: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34a).
Christ could have cursed His killers on the cross, but instead he blessed them when they hurt Him. He asked His Father not to hold this against them.
Robert Ingersoll, the well–known atheist of the last century, would often stop in the middle of his lectures against God and say, “I’ll give God five minutes to strike me dead for the things I’ve said.”
He then used the fact that he was not struck dead as proof that God did not exist. But Theodore Parker said of Ingersoll’s claim, “And did the gentleman think he could exhaust the patience of the eternal God in five minutes?”
Love is patient.