Patient (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Love is patient, love is kind; is not jealous; love does not brag; is not arrogant,

1 Corinthians 13:4

Years ago, I heard the teaching that I should be able to substitute my name for the word love in this passage. This section of The Bible operates as a sort of report card, in that respect. I can run down the list of attributes and determine where I stand; how much growing God still has to accomplish in me.

This morning, I found myself drawn to the reminder that love is patient. I have not been patient, in recent times, so the verse is also an exhortation to be patient. The term used in the original is richer than our English word patient. The original word carries the meaning of persevering patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles; of being patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others; to be mild and slow to avenge; to be longsuffering; to be slow to anger; to be slow to punish. Enduring misfortune is difficult — to endure patiently and bravely is worlds apart from mere endurance. Bearing the offenses offered by others and accepting the injuries they cause is on a much lower level than being patient in bearing them. And I am not even going to start talking about being longsuffering — the fact that words suffer and long are both contained within the word is more than enough explanation.

How am I doing with regard to item one on my spiritual report card? If I am honest, not very well. I have been terse with people I love and quick to punish offenses. I have not consistently been slow to anger — sometimes, I have had a very short fuse. I can make excuses or try to provide mitigating circumstances, but those are attempts to shirk my responsibility. God does not call me to His service only when it is convenient, but often when it is least convenient. He does not accept my mitigations and excuses, but He will accept my confession and repentance. Let me confess that I have not been patient and pray that God will work patience in me.

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