Love Is Patient, Love Is Kind

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 2, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV)
“Love suffers long and is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NKJV)

Love is Patient

If we truly love someone, we will be patient with them despite their flaws, idiosyncrasies, and anything that makes them “not normal.” Patience is not merely talking about the ability to wait for something to happen. That is the basic, elementary understanding we tend to be given as children. However, the Bible’s definition of patience is “long suffering.” What does that mean?

Eric Ludy gave the clearest picture to me in his sermon Hold the Position in which he deals with how to handle crisis. He describes patience as tensile strength, the ability to revert back to ‘normal’ after being stretched or strained. In an application of this, love is the ability to continue working with someone no matter how strenuous the relationship or the situation is.

Patient love is able to teach the students or the children how to do something five, ten, thirty, or even hundreds of times, even if they never seem to get it without getting frustrated, annoyed, or going as far as saying, “You never will figure it out.” Patient love is working with someone through their struggles in life, not complaining about how slow they are to work out their salvation. It does not give up easily. Each time we see someone fall, patient love keeps us there to pick them back up.

I have a friend I have met online who has required patient love. Without going into details, he tends to be very slow to pick up on things. Even though I have repeatedly told him how to handle some of his problems, he often seems reluctant to do the uncomfortable thing in dealing with them. Yet, how I am able to show patient love towards this person is by looking at what he could become if he were to truly yield his life to God. Have I been perfect in showcasing love towards him? Of course not. But I bring up his case because he requires patient love.

I have friends at my church who have an extreme special needs daughter. She is wheelchair bound, cannot do even basic things to take care of herself like eat or use a bathroom by herself. It takes a special love that only God can give to constantly take care of such people and retain that love. In my substitute teaching job, a couple times this year I’ve been put in classrooms that deal with kids like this daughter, and I often don’t know what to do, in part because I have not had formal training. There still is part of me that had not yet experienced the true love of God, because sometimes it can be hard for me to truly love these extremely special needs kids with the patience required to work with them. The same can be said with the “normal” kids who have behavior issues. Love is patient, even when you really don’t want to be.

Love is Kind

Many people do not know what this means. They think they do, but often when someone talks about love and kindness, they usually mean, “Let me do what I want, and don’t dare tell me it’s wrong.” Love is kind, but it is not that. What am I talking about then? There are two major aspects I will deal with here.

First, kind love is the type of love that seeks out the lowly, the lonely, or the outcast and treats them with honor and respect. Kind love is the one who helps a bullied student pick up his books and comforts him (standing up to said bully is for later). Kind love does not speak a harsh word nor a coarse joke. It is gentle and always looking to build up and edify others. It is always outward seeking.

Kind love goes beyond the typical “love” we generally think of. It is very possible to love someone and not like them. As Mark Lowry puts it, “You’ll cry at their funeral but you don’t want to go on vacation with them.” Kind love doesn’t love out of duty but actually likes those it loves. Kind love likes the outcast and the vulnerable and the ignoble. Kind love wants to be with these people.

But often this love must speak up against destructive behavior. Kind love also warns against false teachings and against lifestyles and choices which may seem fun at the moment, but will lead to destruction in the end. This is usually what people call “tough love,” however, even tough love must be kind.

Let us not forget that God is love. So everything Paul describes here in 1 Corinthians 13 is a description of who God is. God will discipline those who are his and also bring justice upon the wicked. God being kind and gentle is true, but so is his demand for justice. Only God is able to carry out that justice while being kind at the same time. How does that apply to us?

We will allow someone to get into our face, slap us upside the head, and “wake us up” if said person has earned that right and respect from us. We reserve this right only for our deepest and truest friends or an authority figure we love. They want to see us genuinely care for them. Paul also describes us as carrying the fragrance of Christ. While many will hate us simply for bearing the scent of life (because they in their sin want to stay in their sin), for others that scent will draw them closer. When we correct someone, it cannot be from a basis of, “You are right, I am right.” It must be from, “Look, this is a dangerous path. I know where it leads. Please turn from it. I care about you too much to let you go that way without telling you.”

Now, if the person still rejects the warning, then you must listen to the Holy Spirit to know whether to pursue further or to walk away. Several incidents in the Gospels show Jesus commending persistence. A prime example is the Parable of the Persistent Widow who plead and plead and plead her case to an unrighteous judge and got her wish. How much more would a righteous God answer the constant pleading of his saints? But there are other times where Jesus did not pursue. When he gave a hard message, 20,000 left him and Jesus turned to his disciple and asked, “Do you want to go too?” When the rich young ruler walked away sad because he did not want to let go of his wealth, Jesus didn’t pursue him. Only God knows when to keep going and when not to. We must learn from him when to do which.

Love is patient and love is kind. It does not cave nor snap in times of pressure or inconvenience. It is able to be stretched and revert back to “normal” without distorting its shape. Love seeks after the lowly and is kind to all it encounters. It likes those it reaches, and does not merely love out of duty. It will correct with genuine care for the wayward and be kind in doing so. All this is to be taken holistically with the rest that follows. Next week, I’ll look at what love does NOT do: it does not envy nor boast.

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