Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Today’s Bible passage can often be heard at weddings as a bride and groom commit themselves to loving each other for the rest of their lives. It is no surprise that for centuries, this passage of scripture has been quoted as often as it has. After all, who would not appreciate this definition of love?
In truth, the verses reflect more than simply beautiful vows or words to pour over a new couple. They reflect the very nature of our God who loves and is love. His perfect character and His attributes are revealed in these very sentences.
Love, agape love, a love that is beyond all human understanding, beyond what seems rational is a love only God can display. We do not know how we ought to love, yet the apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of what this kind of love is all about.
Love is at the root of the fruit of the Spirit and each fruit pours into the other enabling us to love better. We will never love as God does, especially not on this side of heaven. Yet, if we are able to display the love depicted in this passage as often as we can, then we can reflect the love of God bit by bit to a broken and hurting world.
Love begins with patience and kindness. When we fail to be patient with God’s children or under circumstances that threaten us, we reveal that we have yet to understand how to love. Being patient with someone creates a bridge of grace from us to that person so that we may reveal how deeply patient the Father is. We are not patient by nature. Yet, if we remember the patience God displayed towards us, we know that it is not impossible to become patient when we are filled with the Spirit of God.
“But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”- Psalm 86:15 (KJV)
In the King James version , patience is often referred to as long-suffering. That word, long-suffering, refers to an extreme level of patience. If God could be long-suffering towards us, sinners separated from Him, can we not also be patient towards our brothers and sisters?
Many situations require a great amount of patience. A child getting on our last nerve. A spouse being more difficult to live with than we’d like. A colleague continually pestering us. Yes, patience is needed for all that! Consider when we get caught in traffic. Most of us cannot stand being stuck in our cars during traffic hours. The very thought of it gets us upset, irritable, and frustrated. Again, it is not in our innate nature to be patient. This fruit of the Spirit must be cultivated routinely. Not bi-weekly, not once a month, not on date night only, not when we have met the right person, but right here right now in this season. There are likely more opportunities in your day to display patience towards others (and yourself) than you think you can handle. In fact, patience is like a vest we must put on daily.
In Colossians 3:12, Paul says that “as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, [we must] put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”. This is a sign that we are indeed God’s children when we love with patience.
Patience is not only a sign of maturity, revealing the fruit that we bear, it is also a sign that we trust God. The Word of God tells us that it is through faith mixed with patience that Abraham obtained the promise of the Lord (Hebrew 6:11-15). And it is through patience that we can endure trials and come out perfected.
“Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.” – James 1:2-4 (The Living Bible)
Patience is thus a quality and fruit we must seek after. As we seek to love others more and better, while growing in our love for Christ, patience will without a doubt display itself in our lives.
Can you think of areas of your life or relationships that could be improved if you cultivated more patience? Seek the Lord so you may love as He loves and be patient as He is patient. In His sacrifice for the world including you, Christ Jesus proved that indeed love is patient.
Heavenly Father, You are always so patient with me. You sought after me with your love even though I was so far from you and waited patiently until I responded yes to your invitation and to your will. Teach me love how love you more and love those around me as you desire for me to love them. Give me a deeper love for those around me and teach me how to be patient day and night. When difficulties come my way, help me to grow by becoming more patient. Help me to be patient right now with others surrounding me knowing how patient you were towards me. If only to display your love better to the world, make me patient Lord. In Jesus’ name,
Ephesians 5: 1-2 | Romans 8:25 | Proverbs 15:18 | John 15: 9-17