When reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, the love chapter, the first thing we encounter about the nature of true love is that it is Patient. Funny if I were to write what love is, I would begin somewhere around: Love is good and nice, patient would not be my first thought. Since God chose to inspire Paul to write this portion of scripture and point out the true nature of love, let's consider what it means.
Patient as defined in the dictionary: “Capable of bearing affliction calmly; Understanding; tolerant; Persevering: constant; Capable of bearing delay; Capable of enduring inconveniences or hardships without complaint” (Webster's II New College Dictionary- Copyright©1995 Houghton-Mifflin Company USA).
By nature, I am impatient. I want it and I want it now. Suffering; Enduring hardships; Persevering are not my idea of love, but punishment. Why is that such a hard concept to understand? Because of our sin nature and growing up in a fallen world, we haven't understood real love.
We think of love as that warm fuzzy, heart stopping phenomenon; giving pleasure and receiving pleasure from someone; and feeling good all the time. If those things don't happen, then we believe it's not love.
According our understanding of love, it falls under the category “Eros” passionate love and “Philia” friendly love, but God says the true nature of love is His kind; “Agape” selfless, sacrificial, unconditional, forever enduring through all circumstances. I think it's interesting that patience is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22).
From before eternity, Agape is the nature of God. We see it described in Genesis, through the Cross and to our changed lives. Living and growing in Jesus Christ how could we have missed it? We are still growing in God's love and only He can give us the understanding of Himself. I believe that God knows and sees the full extent of people's lives, from before they were born. He has a plan for each life and patiently waits for just the right time when they turn to Him.
From the fall in the Garden to moment you accepted Jesus blood payment for your sins, God has waited patiently, enduring hardship, capable of bearing delay, enduring inconveniences, because He knows the plans he has for you. (Jeremiah 29:11) and waited for that day, when you came seeking him and found him, when you sought him with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12-14).
When we endure hardships and set backs in our life, when we know that we are following, seeking and depending on the Lord. We sometimes forget about this aspect of love, being capable of enduring hardships and inconveniences without complaint. As we wait on the Lord, He will give new power to those who are tired and worn, He will renew our strength. (Isaiah 40:29-30). I can hear the Lord say, “Stand firm and do not doubt” can you?
“Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the Joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12: 2-3 NKJV)
God has expressed His love for us through His patience with us. Let us strive to develop His perfect patience.
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