<a href=”http://www.churchinthecanyon.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/love-is-patient.jpeg”><img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-1052″ style=”margin-left: 40px; margin-bottom: 40px;” title=”love-is-patient” src=”http://www.churchinthecanyon.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/love-is-patient-300×225.jpeg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”225″ /></a><strong>“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy…”</strong> This description of love from 1 Corinthians is familiar to most of us. Maybe too familiar! This morning I would like to consider how strange it is to begin a description of love with “patience.” I think this is strange for two reasons.
First, patience requires the passage of time in a relationship. And second, patience requires other attributes to be a virtue. <!–more–> To begin with the second, think about what patience is. The dictionary on my shelf says “capable of bearing affliction with calmness; capable of bearing delay; not hasty.” Machiavelli was great at those things! So were countless other tyrants who could, with cold, calculating hearts, patiently endure what they perceived were obstacles to their happiness. We say that “patience is a virtue,” but we should really say that “patience in virtuous attitudes and endeavors is a virtue!” Patience also requires the passage of a certain amount of both time and opposition before it can really be claimed to exist. We cannot begin a relationship with patience. For example, you are not really patient with your new puppy the minute you give the cashier at the pet store your money – you can only truly say you are patient with your puppy after he has soiled your carpet for the umpteenth time or chewed up a second pair of shoes.
So why begin a description of love with patience? I think that love, to be a distinctively Christian love, requires a demonstration of other virtues beyond the crush of instant affection common to the world in general. Until we persevere in kindness, trust, and hope, our love is really nothing more than the anonymous goodwill that has marked every secular humanitarian effort the world has ever seen. For Christians, could we consider whether or not we have really embarked upon an authentic Christian love for one another and the world until we have genuinely persisted in loving others despite prolonged reasons not to?
Throughout the scriptures we are called to begin in the toughest of places – our own homes! This year for your valentines – your spouses, parents, children, siblings… resolve to love them as Christ loves you. With patience! This month, I am going to read our description of Christian love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 every day and ask myself two questions: (1) How has Christ’s love for me demonstrated this kind of love?; and (2) How do I need to grow in this kind of loving towards the members of my family? In asking all of you to commit to a similar endeavor, I would challenge you to consider flipping a popular slogan around. We have all heard of “tough love.” And I suspect that when we are unkind or keep a record of wrongs we call our actions “tough love” instead of what they really are. This month allow yourself to consider how “tough it is to love.” And resolve to love more and better – even as Christ loves you. And rejoice brothers and sisters! Because Jesus Christ’s love for you is patient!