Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Love and Patience

Love is patient...(I Corinthians 13:4)

In Paul's famous description of love in I Corinthians 13, I don't think it's mere happenstance that patience is listed as the first fruit of love. I don't think it was a virtue that he just listed at random. I tend to think that the first item in a list (unless it's an alphabetical listing) is usually the item of greatest importance. Perhaps I'm off base here, but I'm sticking to my theory when it comes to these characteristics of love.

I'm not downplaying the importance of kindness, protecting, trusting, and the other descriptions of love that Paul lists. But, perhaps more than ever before, I am realizing the great connection between love and patience. I think that Paul placed patience at the top of that list in order to underscore the importance of patience and the role it plays in loving others.

I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with impatience. I don't like having to wait in line at the grocery store or in traffic. And when I think someone (including those I love) should do something, I think they should do it now.

This applies to my relationship with God as well, I confess. I love reading about His promises in His Word--and I want Him to fulfill them now! I don't like waiting, including waiting on God. Even though I know that God knows what is best, and that His ways and His timing are always perfect, I still struggle more often than I'd care to admit with impatience.

So when I think about how important it is to show love through patience, I could easily become discouraged, because I am not always a patient person. Thankfully, I have seen how God has been teaching me the importance of patience, and I have become more relaxed in waiting on Him as well as on those I love.

More thankfully, while on Earth I will never be a perfectly patient person (say that three times fast), God is infinitely patient in His love toward me. Let's face, I will never be perfect in any of those descriptions of love, but God's love for me and for you IS perfect. He is always patient, always kind, never envying or boasting...bottom line, His love never fails, even when my love for Him and for those who has placed in my life does fall short of the mark.

In reminding myself of God's great patience with me, I'm able to relax my grip on those around me and be more patient with them, with God, and with myself.

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