Sunday, September 14, 2008

Matt's Messages "Love Is Patient"

“Love Is Patient”
Learning to Love
September 14, 2008
1 Corinthians 13:4a

Last week, we began a series that we’re calling “Learning to Love.” And we saw that our lesson plans call for us to learn to walk in love, to learn to live a life of love. Our textbook for this is 1 Corinthians 13. We’re going to read it every Sunday between now and Christmas. And our Teacher is going to be God Himself. Jesus Christ. I’m just a teaching assistant for this class, as I am no expert in love. But Jesus is, and He’s going to lead us into learning to love.

Last week, I assigned some memory work. Can anyone, without looking at their Bible or their bulletins tell us what we were going to memorize for today?

“Love is Patient”

Very good. That’s what we want to think about this morning. “Love is patient.”

Doesn’t it feel good...when someone is patient with you?

This last week, as I meditated on this little phrase, “Love is Patient,” I was struck by the number of people who have been patient with me over the years.

My wife being #1.

My mom being #1 before her! My dad, too.

My kids.

And you guys. Especially our staff and Leadership Board–who work closely with me in leading the church.

I know that I am not always the easiest to get along with.

But you folks, and many others, have been patient with me.

And it’s an awesome thing to think about.

How good it feels for someone to be patient with you.

It feels Right?

Love is patient.

Like we said last week, 1 Corinthians 13 is not a definition of love. Rather, it is a description of love in action.

What does love look like when it is doing its thing?

The first thing on the list is patience.

When love is present, so will be patience.

“Love is patient.”

Now, what is patience?

Patience is one of those things that is hard to define.

We all know it when we see it, but it’s not so easy to put into words, is it?

We know that patience involves a lot of waiting, don’t we?

I’m always telling my kids to “be patient, please.”

And what I mean is, “Wait.”

But not all waiting is patient, is it?

There is patiently waiting and there is impatiently waiting, isn’t there?

Which one do you do when you’ve gotten behind a “Sunday-driver” on a Monday morning on your way to work?

Patience involves waiting, but it’s more than just simply waiting.

It’s waiting with a good attitude, isn’t it?

When I asked my wife yesterday how she defined patience, Heather said, “Contentment while looking for something to change.”

I think that’s really good.

Patience is contentment while looking for something to change.

Now, that something you’re looking for change in might be a red light into a green.

Or it might be someone who has offended you deeply, and you’re looking for them to apologize and change their ways.

Either way, it’s a contentment in the meantime. That’s patience.

You know, this world requires a lot of patience. It’s a fallen world. It’s a curse-bearing world where things don’t work right.

Machines fall apart.
Lines form where they needent.
Rain comes on the day of the picnic.

The fallenness of the world requires patience from believers.

But even more so do relationships.

Because our world is not just broken, people are broken in our world.

We are not as we should be.
We sin against each other.

In every one of our relationships, sin is present.

And because of that, patience will be required.

When you and I enter any relationship with another person, we are relating to a sinner–and they are, too!

And that means that they will disappoint us. They will offend us. They will rub us the wrong way. They will hurt us. They will injure us.

In short, they will sin against us.

And we will be forced with a choice. What does love do when sinned against?

The Bible says, “Love is patient.”

This is especially obvious in the King James translation of 1 Corinthians 13. Can somebody read that for us?

“Charity [that’s an old word for love] suffereth long.”

In other words, “Love is long-suffering.”

That word says, it all, doesn’t it?

It means that there is some suffering bound up in patience, and it doesn’t always go away quickly! “Long suffering.”

Our English word, “Patient” comes from the Latin “pati” to suffer.

The dictionary defines patience as “that calm and unruffled temper with which the good man bears the evils of life, whether they proceed from persons or things” [Unger’s Bible Dictionary, pg. 966].

One writer has defined patience as the “endurance of injuries without retaliation” [D.A. Carson, Showing the Spirit, pg.62].

And we love it, when someone exhibits patience with us.

But it’s not always easy to do for others, is it?

How many here are very patient?

You would describe yourself as “very patient.” This is something you’re good at.

I don’t like to think about myself as being impatient, but if I’m not a patient guy, what does that mean I am?

I guess that’s why we are studying this, isn’t it?

We’re learning to love.

We’re not there yet. We’re not patient like we should be.

So, how do we get there?

How do we grow in patience?

Well, it doesn’t really work to just say, “Be patient!” Does it?

That isn’t good enough, is it?

If I just got up this morning and said to you, “Be patient,” you wouldn’t necessarily change at all this week, would you?

It’s not just something that we can work up on our own.

We can do better. We can concentrate on it some and do better, at least for a time.

But that’s not how genuine change comes, is it?

Remember this Spring when we studied the Holy Spirit? Remember the fruit of the Spirit? What was that?

“Love, joy, peace...patience.” Same Greek word as here, “makrothumia.”

True patience is something that the Spirit has to produce in us.

Of course, we have a part in that, too, don’t we?

Let me give you a list of 5 principles for developing loving patience.

These are not the only things that could be said, but I think they are biblical and helpful.

And they are in a logical order, but I’m not saying that they are “steps to patience” as in, do this, do this, do this, like a recipe and then {bam!}, you’re suddenly patient.

5 Principles:


Remember Who our Teacher is in the School of Love!

God is patient.

And He’s been patient with you and me.

Hasn’t He?

Think about all of the times you have sinned against God.

Think about what kind of a disappointment you and I have been to the Lord.

And how has He responded? Longsuffering. Patience.

The apostle Peter says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God is patient. And He’s been patient with me.

I’m supposed to imitate Him. I’m supposed to copy.

I love others patiently, because He first loved me patiently.

At our house we sing this song:

Be patient, be patient
Don’t Be in Such a Hurry
When you get impatient
you only start to worry

Remember, remember that God is patient too
Think of all the times when others have to wait on you! [by Agapeland]

That’s no small thing!

God has been patient with me.

I know it because of the Cross of Christ.

Jesus didn’t get fed up with me and abandon His choice of the Cross.

He loved me INSPITE of my sin and died for me.

He had contentment while looking for something to change.

And He even made that change happen!

Remember how patient God has been with you.

Rehearse it in your mind.

Replay the Gospel in your heart.

Get filled up with thankfulness and gratitude for His patience, and that will motivate your patience with others.


Impatience doesn’t just happen. It wells up in the human heart and then it gets chosen.

Temptation to impatience happens all the time.

What are you choosing to do with it when it comes?

Let me put it this way.

My children have never made me impatient!

They never have.

They have provoked me to impatience.
They have tempted me to be impatient.
They have done things that have made we want to become impatient.

But they are not the cause of my impatience.

My children have never made me impatient!

But I have chosen it so many times with them. Regrettably.

When the temptation arises in my heart, I need to turn from it.

You know what I’m talking about. Don’t give in. Fight that urge.

Let’s get specific.

Let’s say it’s your husband’s job to take the trash out. And he hasn’t yet.

You have this feeling welling up inside of you.

You want to say, “Why haven’t you taken the trash out yet like you said you would? You lazy bum!”

What do you do in that moment?

We have to treat impatience like it is. As sin. And we have to say No, to it.

Remember Titus 2? “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age...”

We don’t have to be impatient.

Jesus died for our impatience.

Ever think about that? Jesus died for the sins of our impatience. He took our impatience on His own shoulders when He went to the Cross.

He paid for my impatience. And His death gives me the power to say No to impatience and yes to longsuffering.

I think that we, for some reason, don’t expect evil enough.

For some reason, we don’t expect things to go wrong, for things to not work.
We don’t expect others to sin against us. I don’t know why.

We are sinners living with sinners in a fallen world. We should expect sin and plan to be patient accordingly.

And we also, somehow, don’t expect the temptation to impatience to come up in us. But it will, so we have to get ready to deny it.

Does that make sense?

Turn from your impatience.

But that’s not good enough by itself, is it?

You have to have something you’re turning to, not just away from.


One of the reasons why we get impatient is that we mistakenly believe that if this change doesn’t happen NOW then some necessary blessing will never come to me.

If that woman doesn’t apologize NOW, then I’ll never be able to forgive her.
If that product doesn’t become available NOW, then I’ll never get the thing I need.
If that doctor doesn’t come through that door, then I’ll die before I should have.

We begin to believe that every hinges on that thing we’re waiting for.

But there are a thousand specific promises in the Bible that undercut those worries.

And if we lean on them, we can “rise above” our impatience.

Isn’t there something about “rising above” impatience in the moment?

When you realize, this thing isn’t really that big in the grand scheme of thing (which is what the promises of God really are!).

Isn’t that how we talk to ourselves to become patient?

This really isn’t that big in the grand scheme of things.

Even if that guy keeps doing it?
Even if that kid doesn’t stop?

This really isn’t that big in the grand scheme of things. And my God and Savior are in control.

Meditate on the promises of God, and you can rise above impatience.

I’m starting to get a little worried about my post-course assignments for my doctoral classes. They are due in mid-November, which seems a little way off, except that I haven’t got much done on them yet, and I have a vacation in the meantime, a visit from my in-laws, and we’re hoping to install a outdoor wood-furnace in our spare time in October.

All of a sudden, November seems really soon!

And I can get impatient with anyone who stands in the way of my getting my assignment done.

I have to remind myself that God has been patient with me, and then fight the urge when it comes, and trust in God’s promises.

Like for example, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

He’ll take care of my needs. I just have to be faithful.

And that’s #4. WALK IN PATIENT LOVE.

Just do it. Trust God and do it. Imitate Jesus. How patient He was! Copy that.

Walk it out. Actually practice patience.

It sounds dumb, but often, we forget to just do it. Be patient. Choose it in the moment.

Forebear. Endure. Suffer long.

Take the hit. Don’t retaliate. Absorb the pain. And smile anyway.

Walk in patience.

Love is patient. Be loving. Do it–not in your own power–but do it.


Good things really do come to those who wait.

The Bible says that those who wait patiently will get great reward.

Proverbs 16:32 – “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”

We don’t celebrate patience enough in our culture! We prize the warrior who goes out and grabs what they want. But the Bible says that it’s better to be a patient man who can control his temper. He will be rewarded.

Proverbs 14:29 – “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.”

And you know what happens to fools.

Jonathan Edwards, the great Pre-Revolutionary American preacher wrote a book on love called “Charity and Its Fruits.” And he says that long-suffering-ness is a mark of “greatness of soul.”

It marked Jesus as one of greatness of soul.

And it will mark us.

Patience leads to reward. Christlike character.

And so much more, too!

When you are patient, it causes others to think about being patient. It changes the dynamic.

Often, patience diffuses a conflict.

Patience leads to reward. Expect it.

Now, hear this. It says, “Love is patient.” But it doesn’t say, “Love is passive.”

There is a big difference between being patient and being passive.

It might look the same from time to time, but one is loving and the other isn’t.

You might be in a situation that calls for action, and now you this saying that you need to be patient.

But patient doesn’t necessarily mean not active.

It means contentment while looking for something to change.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t take action when appropriate. And measuring that out requires wisdom that we need to ask God for and seek counsel on.

You might be saying, “How long should I be patient?”

And I think one answer for that is Jesus’ Golden Rule of Thumb.

How patient do we wish someone else would be with us?

How patient has God been with you?

Again, that doesn’t mean that we don’t act, it just means that even as we act, we do it out of love for the other person and out of wisdom, not out of impatience and self-seeking.

Patient, but not Passive.

Now, as we close, I want you to ask yourself how you are going to apply this truth to your life this week.

Get interactive with this.

How does this affect your marriage, if you are married?

It’s easy to say, “I wish my spouse would be more patient!”

But are we saying to ourselves, “How can I be more patient with my spouse?”

Apply this your family.

Parents, how can you be more patient with your kids?

Remember God’s patience.
Expect the reward.

Kids, in what ways do you need to grow in your patience with your parents? With your brothers? With your sisters?

Don’t apply this to someone else. Apply it to yourself.

Singles. How does this affect your relationship with your roommate, your housemate?

Your co-workers? Your boss?

Love is patient.

Are you?

Would patience be a helpful virtue for businessmen to develop?

We sometimes think of business people as action-oriented, and we should.

But patience isn’t passive. It’s just content.

If run a business or oversee employees or are a salesmen, how will work patience into your plan for this week?

How about at church. Do we need to be patient with each other? Do you need it on your sports team? In your neighborhood? At school?

I’d love to hear about 30 different conversations about how “love is patient” has changed your life this week. Let’s hear some testimonies next week about what God is doing in us.

And, here’s your assignment for next week.

Take it one step further. Add “Love is kind.”

“Love is patient. Love is kind.” Can you remember that? Repeat it in your mind and ponder it in your heart.


Pastor Matt, last month I suffered a second miscarriage, twins last november and another a few weeks ago.

When I came to service yesterday, you could have asked me about patience and I would have told you I am a self proclaimed "expert". Mother of three under 5, military wife, Iraq veteran, middle management in corporate much more patience can a woman have?

I've decided that I lost alot of patience these past few weeks and need to apply it to the following:

My physicians, I should be less requiring of them, however avoid being passive by praying for God to bless them with the knowledge to figure out why after 3 beautiful children I suddenly can't carry a baby to term.

My Self, I should be less demanding, there is no need for me to jump right back into work, there is no need for me to have such anxiety about the safety of my children when I am not home. I am praying for the patience to allow my soul, mind and body to heal and not expect so much of myself.

I thank God very much for you bringing me this message on this day, each time my faith is tested he sends me a reminder of why I believe!


Thanks for leaving a comment!

Wow, you've been through a lot in the last year.

Heather and I are looking forward to getting to know you better in the coming months.

-Pastor Matt