Monday, November 7, 2011

This “patient love”

One of my favorite definitions of love is located in the book of 1 Corinthians.  In the 13th chapter, Paul writes about the importance of love and gives his understanding of what love is and is not.  He leads into the definition by saying that if we have all of these talents and abilities but do not have love then nothing else really matters.  In verse 4, he begins to really get into the description of love:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

The very first adjective that Paul uses to describe love is the word PATIENT.  What does he really mean by using this term to describe love?  Many people view the word love as a noun.  They look at it as something that we possess or hold in our hearts.  Others view the word love as a verb, because it is seen as something that we do; an action.  Whichever way you look at it, Paul says that it’s “patient.”

If we look at the word, patient, and it’s definition we find: 

1. capable of waiting: able to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset

2. capable of persevering: able to persevere calmly, especially when faced with difficulties

So, does this mean that love waits and endures without becoming annoyed or upset?  Does it mean that it perseveres through difficulty in a calm manner?  For Paul, apparently so.

But, how can we love patiently or experience a patient love when everything in our society and culture speaks contrary to this idea?  Usually, when we say that we love someone or believe that someone loves us, we automatically start the clock.  We begin to put time frames on our lives and theirs simply because love is present.  In relationships, people automatically start planning the engagement or the wedding once someone used the term love.

I’d like to think, however, that love is just the beginning of building a solid foundation for a relationship.  It takes time to create the type of love that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13, which is why I think he started with “love is patient.”  The word love should not be pressure filled and create stress and anxiety for those who give or receive it.  God’s desire is for everyone to love and be loved.  This “patient love” is what many people, especially those who desire to be married, need to learn and practice.  Before thinking about the wedding or your ideal honeymoon destination, perhaps couples should learn to love patiently.  Love in a way where they are waiting for the right timing to move into the next step.  Loving patiently might mean taking time to learn about someone’s values, goals, dreams, and spiritual desires.  Loving patiently might mean being in a relationship but also vigorously pursuing your own destiny, dreams and God-given purpose as he or she does the same so that should the relationship grow into more, the two will be whole and complete before joining as one.

Perhaps if we learn how to love patiently, we will learn more about God and how to love Him and do more of what He desires of us.  An evaluation of past mistakes helped me understand how I need to live and enforce a patient love.  I’m happy because I see the results of being patient and not having so many pressure filled expectations of those we love.  God desires to teach us how to give and receive love His way. 

 Just remember that all things work together for our good if we LOVE Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  So, as long as we keep loving God and living out His purpose for our lives, everything else will come together for our good.  So, practice more patience in your love for others.  If you are married, be more patient with your spouse.  If you are a parent, be more patient with your children.  In your relationships, practice waiting without becoming annoyed and trust God to work it out for your good.  Focus on becoming a better person, pursue your dreams and walk in your destiny. 

In the words (and voice) of Pastor Joel Osteen, "Do you believe it on today?"  :-)