Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love is Patient

     I want to begin with a mathematical equation. If God is love and Jesus is God, then Jesus is love. In addition if the law of God is fulfilled by us loving, then we can conclude that Jesus gives us the example of what it means to love. That is not to say that we need to do everything that Jesus did, like cleansing the temple or raising Lazarus. We do need to look at how Jesus loved. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 describes loving actions. Therefore, we should be able to find examples of these loving actions in the life of Jesus and emulate those examples.

      Love is patient. Therefore, we should develop patience. Patience, in the context of 1 Corinthians 13, literally means long suffering and is expressed in relationship. Love is relational. The patience, long suffering, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is patience in our relationships with others not just with our circumstances. It is not the patience of Job, who endured tremendous suffering. It is the patience of our Savior, who endured the sins of His people every day of His life.

      Consider the patience of Jesus. He knew the hearts and minds of those around Him. As He walked through the crowd, He was aware of the lustful glances of His own disciples; the judgmental and critical disdain in the hearts of many Pharisees; the lack of faith in those who just wanted a handout. Jesus washed His disciples feet, served them the New Covenant meal of communion, expressed His love for them and then, while Judas was running to the priests to betray Him, heard the rest argue about who was the greatest. In all of this, Jesus was patient. He did not blast them. Usually, He did not even correct them. He simply suffered long. Keep in mind that Jesus is God, so every one of these sins was directly against Him.

      People are not where I think they should be. I have two sons. Throughout their childhood, I pushed them to excel. When they accomplished something I would praise them and then give them a higher standard to pursue. I am not convinced that this was either helpful or destructive. What I do know is that in my heart, I can usually see a higher standard that people can reach. Most of us have a standard that the people around us have not reached. They shouldn’t gossip as much as they do. They should pray or witness or come to Sunday school more. Our list is seemingly endless. Sadly, our lack of love is expressed by criticizing, chastising, and judging them. We then make our sin worse by assuming our criticism, chastisement and judgments are loving. But in reality, they do not look much like Jesus. We see the rare occasion of Matthew 23, when Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and we make that the standard instead of the exception. We jump up to call people broods of vipers because Jesus did—especially while writing in blogs or on facebook.

      I want to develop in my heart, and encourage you to develop, a love like Jesus. People are not where we think they should be, but God is sovereign. He is also active in their lives. Jesus knew what His Father was doing in the life of each person. I need to ask God that more often and then look to see where He is leading them. Maybe I need to rebuke less and prayingly wait more. As I read books that disagree with me, (I worded that carefully for emphasis on my own self-focus), I need to see the good in them instead of the few points where they may err. As politicians and other celebrities fail, I need to pray for them, not point the finger. When a person has a different position, I need to hear them out and understand how they came to their position rather than assume they are ignorant or evil. After all, love is patient.

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About Me

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I have been a PCA pastor since 1993, having been a pastor in Arizona, Florida, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and as the Team Leader for MTW’s work in Scotland. I am currently the Senior Pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church in York, PA. As a pastor, my desire is to help everyone I meet live out Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in Heaven but You, and besides You I desire nothing on earth.” I love my Wife Robin, my two sons, Patrick and Michael and my daughters in law, Britney and Emma.