So it is with the love we are to have for one another. It is not just to be lip-service. I’ve spoken to people who have left relationships in shambles by shameful behavior and said, “That’s not who I am; I’m really a very loving person.” Oh, really?
Every man is a paragon of virtue in his own mind. The love of God is shown, not by what we imagine in ourselves, but in what we demonstrate to others. Patience is a quality that can be seen in us by others. Its opposite – impatience, annoyance, intolerance – can also be seen.
Here is the meaning of the word patient in the Greek text: To be of a long spirit, not to lose heart, to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles, to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others, to be mild and slow in avenging, to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.
That’s pretty demonstrable, right?
Let me just mention two aspects of love-is-patient. First, love is patient in the immediate circumstances. That is, we can be in a situation where the other guy may be demonstrating immaturity (i.e., they’re acting like a big, fat baby!) Patience will endure a lot of grief for the sake of the brother. Even when the opportunity calls for some corrective action, it is done patiently, graciously and gently.
Second, love is patient in the long-term goals. Love is willing to give relationships a long time to mature. Months. Years. It's not just being patient in the moment of frustration (see above), but in the amassed moments of frustration that span a lifetime.
Love never gives up on bringing God’s people to maturity. Impatience is demonstrated when we want to speed up God’s maturity process. We get annoyed at immaturity. We become intolerant with the slow developers. The immature slow down our progress in missions and ministry. We find it easier to cast the infantile brother out to fend for himself (“be warm, be filled”) than we would spend the time encouraging them to spiritual adulthood.
I think love is rare because we give up on one another too easily. People can be draining to our spirit. This is why God’s love is practiced in God’s community. Sure, there are those spiritual rug-monkeys who will eventually drain us of energy, but the mature come together to bear the load, to strengthen one another with a mission in mind – to exercise patience until the kids are grown and raising their own spiritual progeny.
Grand Junction, Colorado