The Power of Love
Long before I got married, I have loved 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. For those of you who may not remember it entirely, here it is from the ESV:
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
I don’t know how many times I’ve studied these verses. At least to the point where I’ve memorized them. But memorizing Scripture doesn’t mean it’s in your heart. It doesn’t mean you’re living it out. And I’m talking about myself here (though maybe you can see yourself in it too?).
Through the grace of God, I have grown and matured over the years, but I still have a long way to go when it comes to love. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and my friends. I love the Lord God. But my love is nothing like what is described in 1 Corinthians because I still fail at it constantly. I’m a selfish being – we all are – and although I want to love like that, I can’t in my own power. Thank God I have the Holy Spirit who can help me learn how to love the way God loves us!
So, for the next few weeks, I want to break down these verses and show us (and myself) how we can apply them to our lives. Now, this is beneficial if you’re single or married, but I will be speaking primarily to married women.
Love is Patient
The first part of this passage is the phrase, “Love is patient.” Ah, my least favorite word “patience”. Or at least, it has been in the past. This is the area I’ve struggled with the most because it doesn’t come naturally to me. I know this will sound like I’m bragging but there are some areas in life that have just come easily to me. Writing, music, dance, languages, reading, creating websites, editing graphics…that kind of thing. I had to learn them, but I could pick them up quickly. It didn’t take a lot of effort, honestly, to learn any of those things. That’s probably why I’ve pursued them for years.
But, there are other areas that I don’t pick up easily: math, science, socializing, public speaking, talking on the phone, drawing, creating artwork of any kind, games that require strategy and planning, etc. This is the stuff I struggle in and still have to struggle in today because I actually have to use some of them, especially for our businesses (my husband and mine).
Why am I telling you this? Because the things I don’t grasp easily, in the past, I always just gave up on. If I couldn’t get it right away I’d throw up my hands and yell, “Forget it!” and stop trying. That is the opposite of patience. And it has kept me from growing, as well as learning a lot of great things that would be helpful to me today.
My husband actually helps me a lot in this now – one of the reasons I know that he is the perfect mate for me. Justin (my husband) is very patient. He will sit for hours to solve a problem that I would have (and sometimes did) give up on after five minutes. When I get frustrated he makes me walk away from the situation, helps me calm down, and then I can come back with a fresh perspective. Sometimes I can figure it out myself, sometimes he helps me. But I am very grateful he is helping me to learn patience.
Why is patience so important? It isn’t just my patience that needs to improve. Unless patience comes naturally to you, I’m sure you need to practice patience as well. But, what do I mean by practice patience? Well, patience is something you don’t just “get”. God isn’t going to give it to you or me. In fact, we already have it in us.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
You see, when we received the Holy Spirit, we received all of the fruits that go with it – including patience. But, just like our physical muscles won’t grow stronger unless we exercise them, neither will our spiritual muscles.
If we want to grow in patience, God is going to put us in situations where we have to use patience. For example, my husband and I are entrepreneurs. We want our businesses to be successful (there are links to our businesses on the menu). But success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes weeks, months, and years of diligent hard work. I want us to be successful overnight, even though I know it probably won’t happen (unless the Lord wills it). And so, I have to practice patience.
I also have to practice patience with my husband. We don’t always see things the same way. We are actually a lot alike, except that he thinks more logically and I think more emotionally. Yes, this is typical of any male/female relationship, though I know there are some emotional men and some logical women. I can also be logical at times while occasionally Justin can get emotional. But for the most part, I come at situations from an emotional point of view (hence my tendency to worry) while Justin uses logic (probably why he solves problems instead of worrying about them).
If you’re married (or even dating) you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. You love your husband, but sometimes he can get on your nerves. Why can’t he just let you vent? Why do problems have to be solved? Why can’t he do things your way?
Patience. The Lord keeps reminding me of that word when I start to feel irritated or bitter or resentful. Be patient with him. He is imperfect and I am imperfect. Love him where he is at. Be patient.
This applies to any relationships, though. Family, friends, co-workers, even strangers we pass in the grocery store.
The other day Justin and I were at a grocery store and this old man was harassing the teenage bagger. He kept telling the kid that he wasn’t bagging anything right, that the old man wasn’t going to pay for his groceries until the kid had bagged things correctly, on and on. The teenager looked embarrassed and frustrated. You knew he wanted to yell at the guy but didn’t want to lose his job. I wanted to yell at the guy too. Then again, we don’t know what’s going on in that man’s life. It doesn’t give him the right to take his misery out on others, but we need to use…you guessed it – patience. So, we waited patiently until he finally paid and left. I made sure to be extra nice to the cashier and the bagger after that, but it was a time for all of us to practice our patience.
I promise you, if you tell God you want to be more patient, He will give you plenty of opportunities to practice patience. I can also promise you that you won’t like it, not at first. But once you start to grow and mature, patience will come more naturally. We just have to break the bad habit and sinful nature of being impatient. It isn’t easy and we can’t do it alone. But thankfully for us, we have the Holy Spirit to strengthen us.
So, let’s all make a commitment today to be more patient. Practice patience this week y’all!
Continuing the series: