Resolved: To Love... Patiently

"Love is Patient"

~1 Corinthians 13:4

 

2011 is here and I am excited about the opportunity to have a greater impact for Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3 Paul explains that having an impactful ministry begins with showing genuine love to other people. He describes love as the “more excellent way” to have an impact on others.

Love is a word that gets a lot of use, but what is it? I love my wife, the Colts and a cold drink on a hot day. I love cantaloupe, reading, the Office and argyle. I love the church, Texas, hoodies and all things Apple. There are a lot of things we claim to love, but is this the same kind of love that Paul is talking about? The love that Paul wants us to have is a very specific kind of love. He explains what it looks like 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. 

What is True Love? Love is Patient

The first word that Paul uses to describe love is patient. I think of patience as somebody who is willing to stand in a long line without complaining, but when Paul uses it he has a little more in mind. The word that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians is a compound word that literally means long-suffering (macro – long; thymeo – suffering). Many translators use the word patience (which is accurate), but I think the word long-suffering paints a great picture.

Someone who is long-suffering is willing to endure suffering for a long period of time. They are a person who has a calm and gentle response in the middle of pressures, difficulties, or injuries that have been caused by other people. Someone who is long-suffering is willing to continue over time without losing their temper, seeking retaliation or becoming angry. It’s a term that refers a person’s attitude as well as their actions.

Long-Suffering in Real Life

How good are you at long-suffering? How do you respond . . .

  • When you are wronged or inconvenienced?
  • When you are cut off in traffic?
  • When you are wrongfully blamed for something at work?
  • When others fall short on their promises?
  • When others gossip about you?
  • When those in authority abuse their power?
  • When someone talks down to you?
  • When you are belittled for your faith?
  • When others don’t live up to your standards?

Chances are you have some room to grow. Many of us choose to trade long-suffering for retaliation, gossip, bitterness, grudges, sarcastic remarks, yelling, silent withdrawal, back biting, rolled eyes, threats of violence, or closed off body language. Maybe you respond by walking away from a relationship completely.

My dog Mac is a great example of patient love. When I get home from work the last thing I want to do is get on floor and play, but Mac sees a little play time as a great way to kick off our evening. If I don’t pay him enough attention he begins to drop hints. He licks my hand and nudges me with his nose. I usually spend at least five minutes trying to ignore him, but his love is not deterred. He will pursue me for a while, but eventually he will just sit back, wait and stare at me lovingly waiting for the time to be right. There has been no love lost, even when I ignore him. He does not bark or nip at me. He does not walk away and sulk. He chooses to be patient. Mac has a long-suffering love.

The perfect example long-suffering love is Christ. Jesus left Heaven and came to earth to die for men who continually rejected Him. Even those who claimed to love Him turned their backs on Him, yet he kept walking His path to the cross. You or I probably would have bailed out and gone back to Heaven, but Jesus turned the other cheek. Instead of gossiping and attacking people He pursued them. When they rejected Him He continued to show compassion and love. His long-suffering love eventually led Him to the cross where He died for the very people who hated Him.

How Can I Have Long-Suffering Love?

Is there a person in your life that is hard to love, but who enjoys spending time with you? Maybe they are self-centered, harsh or simply annoying. Maybe you don’t think that you have anything in common. This may be the perfect person to help you grow in long-suffering. Make it your goal to love them the way that Christ would.

  • Make time for them.
  • Take an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with them.
  • Instead of dodging them, plan a time to hang out.
  • Instead of thinking about yourself, focus on helping them have a good time.

Jesus didn’t only love those who he didn’t prefer, He chose to love those who hated Him. Is there someone who:

  • Has had it out for you
  • Has thrown you under the bus
  • Has taken jabs at you
  • Has talked about you behind your back
  • Has broken promises they made to you
  • Has ____________ (fill in the blank)

Once you have identified the person, make it your goal to be kind to them. I’m not just talking about a smile in the hallway at work. Go out of your way to:

  • Speak an encouraging word
  • Point out something good they have done
  • Ask them about something that is important to them
  • Treat them to some coffee
  • Thank them for something they have taught you
  • ___________ (fill in the blank)

Take time to meditate on God’s long-suffering love. There are many passages that will help, but here are a few:

  • Exodus 34 (vs. 6 in particular)
  • Romans 2 (vs. 4 in particular)
  • 1 Peter 2:18-2:25 (vs. 23 in particular)

After reading ask yourself these questions:

  • What do these passages tell us about the love of God?
  • How can I reflect them in my daily living?
  • What does Paul’s example show in 1 Corinthians 4:11-13?

Who do you know that is lovingly patient?

  • Take time to thank them for their example
  • Ask them what goes through their mind to help them to respond godly in difficult circumstances.

 

Taking Inventory:

  • Who do you struggle to be lovingly patient around?
  • In what circumstances do you struggle the most?

When you struggle ask yourself:

  • What do I want the most right now?
  • What has taken over the throne of my heart?
  • Am I more interested in my own convenience or in loving others?

Most of us have something that gets in the way of loving others. There is something that is preventing us from having patient love. We need to work hard to evaluate our own hearts and pursue change. Only then can we and have an impact for Christ in 2011.

Resolved: To Love…Patiently

 

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