Lest I think I’ve ever “arrived,” it takes only a moment of stress to show me how far removed I am from biblical love. My everyday moments more often resemble lovelessness rather than the definition of biblical love. Over and over again I insist on my own way as I bark out commands in haste to my kids or speak short words to my husband and leave no room for doubt that I’m irritated. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26 ESV).
Impatience, at its core, is a love issue. The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 13:4 for “patient”(makrothumeō) has the connotation of being slow to act against wrongdoing. Whereas the original word for kind has a meaning of responding with a mild demeanor. These are reactive words.
The challenge here is not to go out and be more patient and kind. Instead, love is displayed in our response to the offenses of others. When someone intentionally wrongs me or is just incredibly annoying, my response reveals love (or hate). I don’t need to look far to find an occasion to love. I am given continual opportunities to love each and every day.
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34).
God loved me so I can show love. “Not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God extended me mercy so I can extend mercy. God is patient with me so I can be patient with others. Once again, we have our example of love in our Savior. God’s love for His people is patient. My sin—and yours—is a continual offense to a holy God. Yet, He responded to our offensive actions toward Him with love. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient (makrothumeō) toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Love is evidenced in our responses to others. All too often, when we want to make changes in our lives, we go overboard looking for new things to help us in our journey. In our efforts to be intentional, we skip right over the simplest solution. Truth is, we already know what to do. We don’t have to look far for ways to show love to others. Every moment we have with the people God has planted us next to is an opportunity to love. From the next-door neighbor we rarely speak to, to the girl at work who drives us crazy, to the friends and family closest to us. As we choose to stay near to God and keep in step with His Spirit, He will faithfully enable us to love others and bear witness to the love we ourselves have experienced.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
PRAY THIS WITH ME: God, I praise You for your extravagant love! I deserve judgment, yet You have lavished Your love on me. Jesus, thank You for taking the wrath of my sin so that I can experience the favor of my Creator. Spirit, enable me to respond with extravagant, patient, and kind love with every offense I face today.
This is an excerpt from Everyday Love — a women’s Bible study on love. This easy-to-use, four-week Bible study will help you discover how your life can bear witness to God’s purpose. In as few as 15 minutes a day, you will explore the Book of 1 Corinthians 13 and the deeper truths about God’s love for you and others.