I often heard older couples say that when they got married they didn’t understand love and as they have grown older that they understood more fully what it meant to love each other. I would agree with them. Paula and I will be married for 34 years in June and though I was very sincere early in our marriage, my love was shallow.
Most do not understand what it means to love someone in measurable, concrete ways. We think love is being nice, enjoying someone’s company, or just getting along without conflict.
The Bible gives us precise expressions of what it means to love in I Corinthians 13, often called the “love chapter”. Each characteristic is able to be observed, practiced and measured. It is not a “warm fuzzy feeling” you have about someone, but a specific way you behave toward them. Here they are listed from that passage in the Bible.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
These are verbs, actions that are shown toward those whom we care about and love. This is the way God treats us. These are the qualities that form a portrait of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
The first characteristic of love is that it “suffereth long” (:4). This means to “patiently endure difficulty”. Simply put, when you love someone you are patient with them when provoked. Impatient people are not loving people.
One of the root causes of impatience is anger. The two go together. The Bible says, “A fool’s wrath is presently known…” (Proverbs 12:16) When we are angry we say and do things we ordinarily wouldn’t and have regrets. An angry person is not a loving person nor is an impatient person. The two are inextricably related.
A key to overcoming impatience is to realize that underneath it is anger and to deal with the root cause. The next time you are impatient, catch yourself and find the correlation between the issue causing your impatience and why you feel that way. Underneath it is a behavior, attitude, or response of a person (or a situation) that makes you angry.
Patience keeps you from becoming angry and getting into a deeper mess. God warns against this – “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly…” (Proverbs 14:17) To be “soon angry” is to be quick-tempered.
“A man without patience is like a car without brakes”. A lack of patience and the presence of anger insures you are going to have a “wreck” in your relationships and hurt a lot of people, including yourself. Love is the opposite; it is longsuffering and patient.
Moses became angry at the nation of Israel when “they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.” (Psalm 106:33) The words “speak unadvisedly” have the idea of “babbling, speaking without thinking”.
An angry, impatient person views life from a lens of how things affect them rather than what the needs of other people are. The cause is a lack of love. When we are around impatient people we tend to “walk on eggshells” carefully avoiding the trigger that causes them to explode in anger.
Rather than becoming close to them, we avoid them. When love is absent, relationships die. When love is present (patience), relationships thrive. Again, anger and impatience are related. Where you find one, you will find the other. However, when we are around someone that is patient with us we are attracted to them. That’s what love does.
I can tell my family and friends that I love them, but if I am impatient I will behave in unloving, destructive ways. What makes you impatient with your spouse? With your children or parents? With your siblings? With your coworkers or classmates?
Take the time to trace your impatience to why you are angry with people and learn from it. Don’t be easy on yourself. Angry, impatient people are not loving people.
In the next series of posts I’ll write about what God says love really looks like. My prayer is that it will help you to become a more loving person and be able to offer those around you a heart that is free of anger and impatience.
It’s not easy, but it is worthwhile.