Love is Patient

Patience is a critical attribute that reveals the force and nature of love, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. The King James Version states that love “suffereth long”. The Greek word literally means “to hold oneself up against”. This is a figurative saying similar in meaning to the modern phrase “to put up with”. In other words, the Apostle is declaring “love puts up with a lot”. In biblical usage, the term describes long-suffering, forbearance or patience with respect to interactions and relationships with others.

In essence, having patience or forbearance with others means to be slow to anger and ready to forgive. It is the opposite of reactionary expressions and thoughts, irritability, resentment, and so forth. It necessarily includes self-control even when neglected or provoked.

Certainly there are many practical applications for marriages inherent in the scriptural ideal that love is patient. If you have this forbearing love in your marriage you will accept your spouse for who he/she is without demanding or expecting change. You will tolerate the weaknesses, mistakes, and, at times, ignorance intrinsic in our common human nature. When problems or conflicts arise, you will not over-react in haste but, instead, withhold judgment and give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.

This love commitment to your marriage and spouse will produce a forbearance that informs and calms your attitude and mindset in difficult situations. You will even endure criticism, provocations, and animosity at times knowing that the long-term investment in the health of the relationship is more valuable than your current personal happiness, rights or needs. Love “puts up” with much in order to allow God to work in His time so the marriage can grow without hindrance.

Finally, patient love does all of the aforementioned without criticizing, complaining, murmuring, or nagging. Such thoughts and behaviors are contrary to forbearance and work against it. Indeed, one cannot possess a genuine agape love – which is patient by definition – and do the things that are contrary to the virtue itself. Your commitment must be stronger that the circumstances.

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