1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient”
Paul compresses in four very short verses an amazing descriptive analysis of what the most excellent way is. After contrasting the indispensable virtue of love with spiritual gifts, Knowledge, Faith, Giving and Commitment he reminds us that Love should not be an abstract concept but a living reality. Now Paul shows us that love is made up of many elements, like a ray of light that passes through a prism coming out the other side broken into its different components. The picture of Love that Paul paints for us reveals the full spectrum of love in a majestic rainbow of color. For the next several weeks we will be looking into the full spectrum of the eternal gift of Love, my desire is that this becomes more than just an analysis of love but a discovery of its depths. Each active color of love relates to our relationships and reveals actions concerned with the present, here and now of everyday life. Christianity cannot become a separate or an added component to life; it is the inspiration for everyday living because God has breathed His eternal gift of love into our everyday temporal existence. Love then is not simply a component of life but love is an intent, a purpose, to direct the thoughts, words and actions of our everyday life. So this intent to love, to live life with purpose, motivated and moved by the directing power of love is our greatest need. Love is:
Loves first colorful ray of light is seen in patience which is made up of two words meaning “long” and “anger.” The word literally means long tempered and without a willingness to wait love would be quick to give up. We live in a short society, our attention spans are short and our patience is even shorter so is it any wonder that our relationships are being shorted. Patience is more than just a long waiting time it is refusing to give into anger in the wait. The King James says that love suffereth long it is the quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation that does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish. It’s the rarely seen quality of having a long fuse, which some mistake for passive inaction. In reality it is love waiting for opportunity to begin, a love that is not in a hurry but calmly ready and willing to do its good work when the door of opportunity opens.
Every one of us understands the need for patience including the kindergarten teacher helping one of her students to put on his boots. He had asked for help which she could plainly she that he needed, yet even with her pulling and him pushing, the boots resisted. Finally the second boot gave way to her stubborn persistence but she could have cried when the little boy said, “Teacher, they’re on the wrong feet.” Looking down she sighed at the sight, sure enough, they were. Struggling to remove the boots she managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on, this time on the right feet. It was then that the little boy announced, “these aren’t my boots.” Yet she bit her tongue instead of getting in his face and screaming, “Why didn’t you say so?” like she wanted to. Once again she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off, and as the last one gave way he said, “They’re my brother’s boots, my Mom made me wear them.” Not knowing whether to laugh or cry she mustered up the grace to once again wrestle the boots onto his feet. Sitting back she said, “Now, where are your mittens?” Looking down he said, “I stuffed them in the toes of my boots for safe keeping…” We have all been there when our patience, like an elastic band, is stretched to breaking, when we are tempted to tire and give up on love. Without patience, anger would be aroused splintering our relationships, leaving us like tattered rags empty with only the bitter bile of resentment to suck on. We need the colorful illuminating light of patience to bathe our everyday struggles in the soft glow of its warmth.
In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus tells a parable about a king who decides to settle accounts with his servants. The first to be brought before the king owes ten thousand bags of gold and being unable to pay the king orders that the man, his wife and children and everything he has be sold to repay the debt. Upon hearing this, the servant fell down and begged him to be patient with him and he would pay back everything he owed. The king was so filled with pity that his patient love forgave and wiped out the entire debt. The servant then went out and found a man that owed him one hundred silver coins. The man was also unable to pay and requested patience. He refused and he had him put into prison until he could pay the money back yet others took notice and told the king. The king had the man arrested, jailed and tortured until he could pay back every penny that he owed him.
Why should we show patience? Because God is patient with us! How many times have you let God down only to experience His patience? We like the first man have also been shown an incredible amount of patience and mercy, so why shouldn’t we also extend the same to others? If we are saved then we have not just heard about patience or read about it we have received and experienced it. God has visited us with His patient love and patience deeply received results in patience freely offered. It’s time to stop underlined passages on patience and start practicing them. Are you grabbing at the throat, demanded payment or giving patience? It’s easy to grow tired of loving but when we consider Him who endured such sufferings of sinners against Himself we will not become weary or fainthearted in our love Hebrews 12:1-3.