Love is patient. That’s what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4. Love is patient. What does that mean? Patience is the kind of thing that has to be learned by kids when they’re on a long trip in the car with their parents, and that parents have to learn while waiting for their kids to be quiet. Patience is keeping your cool in a traffic jam. Patience is hoping your kid to gets in the game when you know they are as good, if not better than the starters on the team. The list goes on. It always takes time. There is always angst. We want to see results.
Hate to Wait
We hate to wait. We’ve been conditioned to hate to wait. We need it now. We want to rip open the package, add the water, throw it in the microwave, take it out and eat it all in one minute or less. No that’s too long! Why add water?
Ministry to others tries our patience. We say to ourselves, “Why hasn’t that person changed? What’s wrong with them? Hello it’s in the Bible! That guy should be a pastor by now! Can anybody be on time, just once?
To be patient is to be “long suffering.” Could there be a better synonym for patience? Long suffering means it hurts for a long time. It means you don’t see results for a long time. It means you don’t get what you want for a long time. It means that you have to be around people you sometimes don’t like for a long time. It’s long, and it hurts. Get it?
The Dirty Job of Love
Love is patient. Love suffers long. Love does not need immediate results because it is love, and if it did, then it wouldn’t be love. That’s what love is, it’s patient. It’s a dirty job. It means I stay when the feelings are gone, with the hope that they will return, because long ago I chose to love. Love is patient, and that means sometimes love equals suffering. It’s something we don’t want to do. It’s like unplugging the toilet. It’s like working in a coal mine. It’s like cleaning a sausage factory. We don’t want that job because it’s dirty and smelly, but someone has to do it, and that someone is us. So let’s man up and do the job we don’t want to do. That’s love.
What Love Does
Jesus came to a bunch of thankless hypocrites and loved them, even though they didn’t love Him back. He knew the job was dirty. He knew it was hard. He knew few would appreciate the difficulty of the task or the sacrifice required, but someone had to do it. He was that someone.
Love is doing things we don’t want to do and changing things we don’t want to change. It’s being the someone that Jesus was. It’s a dirty job, and you’ll have to clean under your fingernails, but to reveal God’s true nature of love it must be done. We haven’t always been successful; therefore, we have not always loved in situations and relationships where patience was required, where suffering was necessary. Instead we’ve walked away. Don’t condemn yourself for those failures. Be patient. Suffer long and suffer well. Get to know love that’s beyond the superficial emotion people associate with the word. If you do, you’ll reap rewards as you get your hands dirty completing the task that God has put before you. In doing so you’ll understand better the true sense of the cross. You’ll get dirty but others will get clean. It’s what love does.