Faithlife Sermons

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Introduction
This morning we have the opportunity to take a closer look at two of the characteristics of love – patience and kindness.
I want you to know up front that I don’t intend to follow Henry Ward Beecher’s exhortation, “There is no such thing as preaching patience into people, unless the sermon is so long that they have to practice it while they hear.”[1]
This morning we have the opportunity to take a closer look at two of the characteristics of love – patience and kindness.
I want you to know up front that I don’t intend to follow Henry Ward Beecher’s exhortation, “There is no such thing as preaching patience into people, unless the sermon is so long that they have to practice it while they hear.”[1]
Over the course of the next few weeks we are going to stand back and gaze upon the portrait of love.
We will find it both enchanting in its beauty and overwhelming in our inability to attain it.
In essence we will be gazing upon a portrait of Christ.
It is in the observing of Christ that we find that “love is a willful choice, not based in one’s emotions, the treatment of the one being loved, or the circumstances in which one finds themselves, to sacrifice one’s self for the betterment or well-being of another.”
Overview of context.
The first three verses of point out the necessity of love.
Love is the essential ingredient that is to accompany any spiritual gift, any spiritual ministry.
If any service or ministry or gift is administered without love, we are nothing and we gain nothing.
Verses 4-7 outline fourteen characteristics of love, and verses 8-13 establishes the permanence of love.
Our focus today is going to be on the characteristics of love in verses 4-7 and even more specifically on the characteristics of patience and kindness in verse four.
Before we consider these two characteristics let’s consider a few observations concerning this list of characteristics in general.
First, this specific context of love is not addressing marital love even though it is likely the most oft read passage at weddings.
It is as well not primarily focused on familial love.
It instead is focused on love within the church.
This entire book is about the church.
As well, the broad context of chapters 12-14 deal with how the spiritual gifts are to be worked out within the church.
This most poetic and beautiful of chapters is to be worked out first and foremost in the life of a church family.
Secondly, as we further develop our understanding and appreciation of love, we are deepening our appreciation for that which is the fulfillment of the whole law.
Christ tells us in Matthew that love is the fulfillment of the whole law.
As you consider the law of Moses (the ten commandments), the first half of the commands deal with our relationship with God and the second half deal with man.
If we truly love God we would never place another god before Him.
We would never craft an image to replace his rightful place.
We would honor his name and his Sabbath day.
If we truly love others we would honor our parents, not murder, not commit adultery, not steal, not lie, and not covet.
Therefore, in loving God and loving others, we would never break the commandments.
As you consider the law of Moses (the ten commandments), the first half of the commands deal with our relationship with God and the second half deal with man.
If we truly love God we would never place another god before Him.
We would never craft an image to replace his rightful place.
We would honor his name and his Sabbath day.
If we truly love others we would honor our parents, not murder, not commit adultery, not steal, not lie, and not covet.
Therefore, in loving God and loving others, we would never break the commandments.
Thirdly, love is to mark us as believers, but sadly, it too often is not what is exhibited by the church.
This seems to be the case of the Corinthian church.
Paul is indirectly (if not directly) admonishing the Corinthians.
If you were to remove the “not” before each of these characteristics, you would likely describe the Corinthians.
The Corinthians were impatient, unkind, envious, arrogant, rude, insisted on their own way, rejoiced in wrongdoing and didn’t rejoice with the truth, didn’t bear with others, didn’t believe the best in others, didn’t hope and didn’t endure.
Finally, these characteristics are verbs not nouns or adjectives.
Most of the translations make the characteristics in these few verses appear to be adjectives.
In so doing, we can miss that they are all actually verbs and require action.
Remember, love is an action.
It is a willful decision to sacrifice one’s self.
These few verses are not abstract but instead incredibly practical.
So then, we come to the first of these characteristics.
Love is Patient.
Definition.
The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible offers a helpful definition.
Patience is the “ability to take a great deal of punishment from evil people or circumstances without losing one’s temper, without becoming irritated and angry, or without taking vengeance.”[2]
The Greek root.
Makrothumos is derived from two different Greek words, makro meaning long, distant, or far away and thumos meaning “a strong passion of soul or mind wrath, rage.”
Putting them together we come up with a rough translation of “long-anger.”
The King James offers a helpful translation, “charity suffers long.”
You’ve likely heard or used the expression “short-tempered” or “quick-tempered.”
In contrast, patience is long-tempered.
Patience is active.
As has already been noted, all of these characteristics are verbs.
They are active not just descriptive.
Patience is not indifference to circumstances or people.
Someone who is indifferent to circumstances and other people may appear to be patient because nothing seems to bother them, but it may simply be that they don’t care about anything or anyone.
On the other hand loving patience is active.
It is aware of the challenging circumstance or challenging person and still chooses to overlook or believe or trust.
Patience is active.
Patience towards others.
There are a couple of words in the Greek that are translated as patience.
(1) There is an aspect of patience (hupomone) that deals with the ability to endure through great circumstances without becoming irritated or angry.
This patience amidst circumstances may be seen through things such as waiting patiently for traffic to move along, for dinner to be ready, for school to end and summer to come.
This patience may require you to persevere through hardship and trials knowing that God will use them for your good and growth.
This patience may require us to wait in certain circumstances and trust that God’s timing is best.
This patience is not directed at people but instead circumstances in which you find yourself.
(2) The second aspect of patience (makrothumos) which is emphasized in this verse deals with the patience we are required to have while dealing with other people.
With this patience, people can do a great deal before you become angry.
You are able to endure a long time before becoming impassioned and annoyed.
BARCLAY.
It is the quality of mind and heart which enables us to cope with people in such a way that their unpleasantness and malice and cruelty will never drive us to bitterness, that their unwillingness to learn will never drive us to despair, that their folly will never drive us to irritation, and that their unloveliness will never alter our love.
Makrothumia is the spirit which never loses patience with, belief in and hope for others.[3]
What areas reveal your impatience?
There are a host of situations that could reveal this type of impatience in our lives.
How do you react when people are driving slowly in front of you?
How long does it take for you to become upset when people at work don’t meet up to expectations or job descriptions?
Do you sit boiling when someone is late to a meeting or event?
When people have an irritating personality or obnoxious habits, are you impatient?
How long does it take for people to pick at you and provoke you?
In your relationships, do you become upset quickly when people let you down?
Impatience is the absence of love.
Your reactions in these moments (and of course a host of other scenarios) reveal whether or not you are selfishly loving yourself or loving God and others.
The presence of impatience is evidence of a lack of love.
Remember, love is the choice to sacrifice yourself for the betterment or well-being of another.
Impatience is focused on how the particular moment is affecting you.
It is not looking at how to seize the moment to love the other person.
When someone at work is not meeting up to expectations, love is going to consider how to best help that person whereas impatience is going to be annoyed that their incompetence is affecting you.
When someone is late, love is going to believe that there is a reasonable explanation.
Even if there isn’t love is going to not sit their infuriated.
Impatience is going to result in stress and anger and likely passive aggressive comments when the person walks in – if not straight up unkind speech.
When someone around you continues in their annoying behavior, love is going to endure, see them as someone created in the image of God, and look for ways to serve them.
Impatience will lead to angry words, condescension, or avoidance.
Patience and love may likely include confrontation.
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