The first characteristic of genuine love is practical, but it is also convicting. The Bible says that “charity suffereth long…” (I Corinthians 13:4). Love is patient. To put it negatively, love is not impatient.
Where can we learn to love this way? It’s not in me to be like this on a consistent basis. Here is the good news; patience is possible The source of patience is God Himself.
If I try to be long suffering through sheer determination I will fail. My fallen nature is impatient and demands to have it’s own way. When our expectations are not met we hold it in as long as we can until we explode and lash out in anger. That’s why God says that love is patient. Love isn’t curt, abrupt, and angry with people.
Every believer can change from being impatient to patient, not through the power of self-will, but with the presence of God in their life. When we try to produce in our lives what can only be supernaturally produced we become discouraged. It becomes a downward cycle – try to be patient, fail, discouragement; try again, fail again, discouragement deepens; try yet again, fail more spectacularly, and hope f0r a better life begins to fade. Finally, we accept a mediocre life. A life without love, without patience.
One of the greatest days in your life is when you realize that the Christian life is not difficult; it is impossible. Only one Person ever lived the “Christian life” and that was Jesus Christ. Until you know Him and allow Him to live His life through you, the quality of patience will evade you.
When I became a Christian it was more than giving mental assent to historical facts about Jesus Christ. It meant more than a pardon from hell, but also the desire and ability to please and obey the Lord. The Bible says that God has “…given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness…” (II Peter 1:3). This means that I can love people and be patient with them because I have God’s nature indwelling me and His power to enable me.
I don’t have to be impatient and unloving! The gospel not only forgives me judicially before God, but it also enables me to be different and for my life to reflect the life of Jesus Christ. God Himself is patient and makes that quality available to all that would appropriate it.
The Bible states that God “…is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”. (II Peter 3:9) Even before we are believers He is patient with us, loving us rather than punishing us immediately for our sins.
It is significant that He is called “…the God of patience…” (Romans 15:5). This is His nature and this same Person indwells every believer (Romans 8:9). I don’t have to pretend to be patient or strive to be that way through sheer determination; the One Who lives in me is patience perfected.
He is rich in “…goodness and forbearance and longsuffering…” (Romans 2:4). We are not going to impoverish the Creator of the universe by resting in Him to give us His patience in trying situations.
The source of impatience and anger is the corrupt nature that all of us were born with. It is natural and normal to be this way without God’s help. The source of patience is God Himself. He allows me to be what I am not and to do what I cannot.
That’s why I like the term “Christ-life” rather than Christian life. To some it is semantics, but to me it is a difference. The former is the very nature of Jesus Christ living in and through me; the latter can become a memorized lifestyle of mere rules and lists (that no one can keep apart from God’s help).
Imagine the difference in your marriage, your family and other relationships if each person was patient when things didn’t go their way, when someone was late, or when a person was in a bad disposition. Love makes a difference in your life and your world. God says the first expression of this is seen in our patience and He is the source for our being able to be patient.
If you have never repented of your sin and put your faith in Christ as your Savior then you will be left to fend for your own in this life experiencing frustration, hurting and being hurt in many relationships. Even worse, your eternal destination after death is a place called the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
If you have rested in Christ’s work on the cross for your deliverance from the penalty of sin then He will not only give you a future of bliss and joy, but also enable you to love people. This means that you will have both the desire and the ability to be patient. This is good news!
You don’t have to live in bondage to your anger and impatience. God can change you and enable you to be a different husband, father, wife, mother, friend, brother, sister or friend. Take advantage of the resources God has made available for you. It will change your life – and that of those around you for the better.