Hi this is pastor Ken, thank you for joining me for my Monday Marriage Message…love is Patient

In last week’s podcast I highlighted the attributes of love according to 1 Corinthians 13. This short chapter from the first letter written to the Corinthian church by the Apostle Paul is commonly known as the “love chapter”. It is often looked to as the biblical reference point to define love. As such, I used it last week as the basis for my podcast…Love Does…Love Does Not.

In that podcast I spoke about the fact that there are three different words in the Greek language that are all translated to the English word love. I mentioned that Eros is romantic or passionate love. I told you that Phileo is what we call friendship or brotherly love. In fact, the name of the city Philadelphia (The City of brotherly love) comes from this Greek word for love. And finally I shared with you that Agape is perfect love or godly love. It is the form of love that keeps the other two forms behaving as they should within the marriage.

I pointed out that the first three verses of this chapter make the point that if Agape love is not being displayed everything else we do becomes irrelevant. The things we say will not be received correctly if they are not said in Agape. The ministries we have will be ineffective if they are not carried out in Agape. Our faith will be useless if it is not driven by Agape. Even the gifts we give to others will be viewed as coming from some ulterior motive if they are not given with Agape. Finally, these three short verses conclude that even if we give up our very life for someone or some cause, if we don’t do it in Agape love…even that incredible act will be void of purpose. The point then is that with agape all is done as it should be when it comes to love, but without agape even those things we would describe as loving acts become useless or irrelevant.

When I said a moment ago that last week I highlighted the attributes of Agape love, I did just that, I highlighted them. I mentioned then, in the weeks ahead I would define those characteristics in greater detail. That is what I plan to do and this week we will look at the first of those qualities.

Most English Versions of the Bible translate 1 Corinthians 13:4a as, Love is patient, a few others use the descriptor long suffering. So, what do those words mean? Patient is defined by the dictionary as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. I find that at least in our western society we consider ourselves to be patient if we do not display our displeasure with someone if they cause us trouble in some capacity. However, the actual definition of patience according to the dictionary says that true patience does not become angry or upset when displeased…even on the inside. This means that even for those of us who would consider themselves to be patient people…we may still have some work to do in this area. I know that I do. Longsuffering according to the dictionary means: having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people. So if we define the two English words used in the translation of this scripture from its original text we find that Agape love accepts trouble or suffering especially when caused by another person without reacting with anger or becoming upset. That sounds like something difficult to do in the treatment of others, but exactly how I want to be treated, hmmm…

When we look at the original Greek text even more information of this descriptor of Agape becomes apparent. The original word from the Greek (Mack-roth-oo-meh’-o) means much more than one English word alone could convey. In the context of this scripture it means, refusing to retaliate with anger because of human reasoning. In other words, if the expression of anger toward a person would be the natural response, and others looking on would agree that it seemed appropriate…love will withhold that anger. It also means divinely directed patience. This means that love will only display anger as the Lord directs. Remember WWJD? The word we translate to patience here literally means love will only lose its cool if Jesus would lose His cool over the offence. The literal sense of the term is extending a long time or way without response.

Scripturally there are ten other instances of this term used in the New Testament. One of them comes from the parable Jesus told of the king who forgave the great debt.(Matthew 18:23-35) The debtor who deserved to be sold into slavery along with his family to repay what was owed asked the king to have (mack-roth-oo-meh’-o) or patience with him and to allow him to try to repay what he owed. In the parable, the debtor owed more than could be repaid, but was asking the king to forego treating him as he deserved. The inference here is that love does not respond to others in a harsh or angry way even if it is what conventional wisdom would say is deserved. Sometimes anger or its other forms within marriage is deserved. Sometimes the ‘cold shoulder’ or ‘slamming cupboard doors’, or ‘muttering angry words under the breath’ would be the appropriate response to some injustice committed…but love won’t do it.

In 2 Peter 3:9 Peter used this same word. That verse is speaking about God’s patience with humankind. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise (that worldwide judgment is coming), as some count slackness (that He isn’t ever really going to do it), but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. His love causes him to withhold his wrath or anger. I like this instance because it gives a practical example of how we are the recipients of the exact brand of love that we are instructed in 1 Corinthians 13:4 to show to others.

Love is patient. Sometimes I think if this were the only characteristic given to us in this scripture we would have enough to work on for a lifetime, but the fact is there are still 14 more qualities of Agape left to discover. God does not give us instruction that we cannot learn to follow. We may never become perfect at doing it all the time, but we can move in that direction. I find that the first steps in meeting with success are to agree with God that the thing He is seeking from us is, He is right to ask for. Second, we have to admit that if He asks us to do a certain thing toward others…we owe it to them. Not necessarily because they deserve it in our eyes, but because our Lord says they deserve it…and that makes it so. Finally, and maybe most importantly, things like the patience and longsuffering I have been speaking of today, by worldly standards are nonsensical, so we have to decide who we are doing it for. If I am patient with my wife when I feel she has wronged me, and I decide I am doing that for her, at some point it will be too much and I will lose patience. If I am doing it for my Lord, my Savior, my King…no wrong she can do, even if each one were added up, would begin to come close to what I owe Him. In that light, because of His patience toward me, I can choose patience toward her…for Him.

Questions to answer:

  1. What makes patience toward your spouse difficult for you?
  2. How might that change if you chose to show your spouse patience in response to the patience shown toward you by God?
  3. Is this an area you feel you need to improve in?

Actions to take:

  1. If you feel that you have been lacking in patience toward your spouse, tell God you recognize this to be a difficulty for you and seek His forgiveness.
  2. If you feel that your spouse often treats you with a love that is patient…thank them for that now.
  3. Pray together that God would help both of you recognize when your patience with each other is being tested and ask Him to help you to learn to be more reflective of Him in this way as you interact with one another.

So now, learning to implement a love that is patient, allow your marriage to reflect God’s love toward the two of you and…go be awesome!