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In the last two posts, I introduced 1 Corinthians 13 and talked about the personal nature of love. Now I want to consider the description of love that is provided for us in this chapter. Note that each of these points mentioned in verses 4 – 8 is an aspect of this love that we are expected to learn. They are a package deal. This “agape” type of love that we have been studying is being described from different perspectives. Love encompasses it all.
Now let’s study the first aspect of love.
“Love suffers long…” 1 Corinthians 13:4a
First, let’s look at some definitions. While this translation (NKJV) and some others use the phrase “suffers long,” the text is not really talking about suffering as we usually think of it. Other translations (NIV, RSV, NASV, for example) use the word “patient.”
The Greek word translated here is:
makrothumeo – literally, to be long-tempered, to be patient, forbearing
As with the other aspects of love, this patience is only realized in a relationship with another person. There is a difference between being patient with another person in a relationship and being patient with things or events. It is important to keep our cool through the frustrations of things that can go wrong or events that try us severely, but stoically weathering the events of life is not the same thing as developing patience in our relationships. Have you noticed that those that have learned to patiently endure events of life are not necessarily patient with people?
Being patient with another person is to avoid a response of retaliation or being overly frustrated with the choices they make. It includes self-restraint in the face of provocation, real or imagined. It makes sense that a love that is defined by actions that are in the best interest of another person would include seeking to understand what is behind a behavior that seems to be a provocation or frustrating in order to understand what would be best for them.
So, for this week, fill in this blank:
Love suffers long (is patient) with _____________.
Put a person’s name in the blank and spend some time thinking about what it means to be patient in the day-to-day activities of this relationship. The person could be a friend, spouse, or anyone with which we have some contact. What does this teach us about love?
Until next time…