Love is patient, love is kind…
It sounds so beautiful, and seems so right. In theory, yes. But easy? Unequivocally, no.
Wikipedia defines patience like this:
“Patience (or forbearance) is the ability to endure difficult circumstances such as perseverance in the face of delay; tolerance of provocation without responding in annoyance/anger; or forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can have before negativity. It is also used it to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.”
That’s a tall order, yes!?!
We look at the next one:
Kind as defined in the Cambridge English Dictionary;
1. generous, helpful, and thinking about other people’s feelings: 2. not causing harm or damage.
It is straightforward.
Now, combine the two: consistently do just these two things as a loving person. Phew, it’s daunting.
Impossible, yet hopeful.
Our Pastor says, showing 1 Corinthians 13 love is impossible.
Yes, impossible… sometimes the roadblocks to love seem insurmountable.
Still, strangely enough though, his words give me hope. In and of myself, I am hard pressed to love like this. On a good day, perhaps, sometimes, occasionally, (you get the picture) – I might love – be for a while, more patient and kind. On a bad day, I may fall flat, skinned knees and bloodied nose.
Do not despair
Yet, I need not despair… Nor give credence to the enemy’s lies, the sulphuric hiss of defeat – no hope for change, no chance of improvement.
But Jesus… He came, lived, died, rose again, ascended to heaven. Then He sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers us to love. We, acutely aware of our need for grace, the dearth of love we exhibit.
We pay attention to this Word, drink this bracing tonic:
1 Corinthians 12:9a –
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” and it continues; “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 1 Cor. 12:10b.
This ‘sufficient grace,’ thrums, energizes, flows through our bloodstream.
This, the holy exchange!
As the Philippians’s author declares: in chapter 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Or who infuses His strength into mine.
Living by grace
If we are to love like this, to live by grace, we must tap into the Vine. Jesus said,
“I am the true vine… Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15: 1a, 4-5
There are times my people drive me batty and, I am sure the same is true of me, for them. And then there are those whose lives criss-cross with ours. Acquaintances, friends, people we work with, people who anger us, the ones who hurt us, you fill in the blank.
Hear the call
But the call to love is clear. And it’s the attitudes of our hearts that are tantamount. It’s the cry, “change my heart oh, God, make it ever new, change my heart oh, God, make me more like you.”
This is not a call to be doormats, but it is a call to examine our hearts. Lift them up to our loving Saviour. Allow Him to do surgery, cut away the poison. Begin the healing of wounds, the work of forgiveness, the daily decision to surrender to the whisper of His Spirit. These choices matter, and we are fooling ourselves if we believe they do not.
Grace and mercy
So, we circle back to the God of the impossible. We determine to abide in the Vine and receive His all-sufficient grace in our weakness.
We run with eagerness, boldness, confidence, and with full hearts, “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Heb. 4:16b
And He, delighted that we have turned to Him, and full of tenderness and compassion, gives what we need, so that we can love, the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love.