Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. (Philippians 4:9)
Let’s review the passage we used to close out Monday’s blog before we head out into some deep water and let our nets down for a catch.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Context is king in understanding the Scriptures, and the major theme of Paul’s entire first letter to the church at Corinth is unity. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for acting in an unloving way toward each other and admonished them that this behavior needed to stop for the sake of the Gospel. And in his extended definition of what Christian love thinks, feels, and does, Paul gave us a great many things to put into practice; I want to drill down into two of them. Today we will look at the practice of “patient” love, and on Friday we will unpack the practice of “kind” love.
The Greek word that many of our English Bibles render as patient can mean “a state of remaining calm while awaiting an outcome” or “a state of being able to bear up under a difficult set of circumstances.” In essence, patient love is demonstrated as it endures displeasure for a season. Patient love does much more than wait calmly in a long line at your bank or a store; patient love remains calm when people are out of line and it is impacting you personally.
You read Paul’s statement that love “is not easily angered.” We all have a natural tendency to become angry when our patience is being tried by the waves of challenge that wash over us in life. And that is why we must practice a love that is patient . . . especially when we don’t feel like it!
My own personal experience has taught me that the more we lack in this particular area, the more God will continue to test us as He is working to conform us into the image and likeness of Christ, and His means are not always comfortable for us. A friend once wryly observed, “I asked God to give me patience; His answer has been to keep putting me in the slow-moving checkout line at the grocery store!” God is graciously encouraging my friend to practice, practice, practice!
On Friday we will focus on what flows out of patient love: Kind love.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!