Are you a patient person, or are you impulsive and quick-tempered? God wants you to be patient, you know. And He doesn’t tolerate any excuses.
Love never quits. It just keeps going on and on. At least God’s kind of love is like that. In 1 Corinthians 13:4, God’s kind of love is described, and the first thing it says is, “Love suffers long.” The New American Standard and the New International Version of the Bible say, “Love is patient.” Now that’s a quality that’s hard to find these days.
The word “suffers long” is the Greek word makrothymei that means “to be patient, to wait.” It has the idea of endurance and steadfastness. Actually, it’s a compound word, with the word “long” attached to the word for passion, in the sense of anger. So it really means “a long time before you get angry” or in a positive sense, patience.
We live in a world that is filled with anger: spouse abuse, child abuse, violent crimes, road rage, and most people have pretty short fuses. It doesn’t take much to set them off. But agape love (or God’s love) isn’t like that. It is a love characterized by patience – a willingness to suffer for a long time before getting angry.
Pastor Howard Sugden tells the story of a man who was very critical of his ministry. He told him the sermon was always too long, or too deep, or too boring, and the man comments were always cutting and hurtful. But Pastor Sugden always treated him with kindness. For five years this went on Sunday after Sunday, and then one Sunday the man came forward at the invitation. He was weeping and apologetic for his critical spirit, and said to Pastor Sugden, “How could you have been so patient with me? I want to know Christ the way you know Christ!”
Is your love like that? There are ten characteristics of love in this passage of scripture, and long-suffering (or patience) is the first. I you fail here, you don’t even make it to first base. Love is patient!
Now you know the real meaning of the word. I wonder – do you have a short fuse? That’s not love, you know – that’s selfishness.