“Love is patient.” I Corinthians 13:4
Love, by nature, is patient. This is why those couples who are “in love” exhibit an inordinate amount of patience in the beginning. What is said, what is done or not done has extra grace embedded in the relationship. Lovers believe, “I will let you down. You will let me down. I will act immaturely. You will act immaturely. I will struggle with fear. You will struggle with fear.
We both need patience, for love is “patient.” If there is no evidence of patience in a relationship, then there is a love deficiency. Love expresses itself in patience. For example, you serve your children because you love them. They are sometimes silly and prone to foolishness, but you still love them. Because you love them, you are patient with them.
This may become more of a challenge when you relate this thinking to relationships outside of your family. A work associate, a stranger, or especially someone outside the faith, is harder to love. You barely know them. Therefore, how can you love them? The most difficult to love is someone who has offended you. We tend to lose our patience with those who are offensive. So, here is an important distinction to make.
You love someone, not because they necessarily deserve it, but because they are created in the image of God. Jesus loved them so much He died for them. You can disapprove of their behavior and still love them. Your willingness to tolerate delay may keep the relationship intact. This is love. This is patience. Your calmness and self-control may be the very thing needed to stabilize the situation. Wake up loving, go to bed loving, and love in between. This environment of love will nurture and produce patience—lots of it.
God understands this because He is love. Therefore, He is the epitome of patience. If anyone has the right to lose His patience, it is God. Everyday He deals with billions of sinners, many of whom are demanding their way. Some are oblivious to God. Some are harsh and angry toward God. But because of His great love for mankind, His longsuffering endures rejection and apathy.
He feels compassion, not defiance, toward someone—lost in his or her sins—flailing away in criticism toward Christ. His love expands rather than contracts in the face of your failures. His capacity to love is greater than ours and his propensity for patience is also greater. But followers of Jesus have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them to love through them. The state of an unredeemed sinner is a limited love. The condition of a saved sinner is Christ’s capacity to love.
Thus, you have the potential for a higher degree of patience. Allow Christ to love through you, and watch your patience grow and expand. Do not fall into the trap of an angry rebuttal. People and situations tend to cool off tomorrow. You still confront, but in the right timing and in the right way. Invest in patience, and the pay off is exponential. Express patience, and everyone is in a better state of mind to discuss the facts. Love the unlovable. Love the undeserving. Love the impatient. Love keeps your motive pure. Love feeds a healthy perspective.
By your love you can be patient, because love is patient. Jesus patiently loved the unlovely. The Bible says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him…” (Mark 10:21a).