Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Before continuing tonight, I wish to let you readers know that I will be out of town this weekend so there will be no new blogs until I return. Tonight however, we are going to start our look at love in 1 Corinthians 13 with verse four where we start with “Love is patient.”
Now honestly, how many of us when we think about what love is would start off with patient? However, this is what Paul starts off with. In a church that was struggling so much with disunity, this could be one of the most important lessons that was needed. Love is indeed long-suffering, as we would say.
We seem to live in an age where we have no patience, which is interesting since we supposedly have so many time-saving devices around us. Where we should have the most time, we feel rushed to and fro and rarely seem to take the time to enjoy ourselves and can rarely get a good night’s sleep because we’re so stressed out.
Of course, one of the best examples of this is in driving. One can imagine the joy the apostle Paul would have if he could have traveled the Roman Empire the way we can travel today. What do we do though? We complain suddenly if we have to wait a little bit longer at that red light or if someone is taking too long to make that turn. Many of us have seen that driver that weaves in and out of traffic on the internet at high speeds. A few of us have been that driver before. We’ve been the driver that pulls out in front of someone because we have to make it, and we’ve been the driver who honks the horn at that moron who does that to us.
Why is it we get impatient? Could it be because, well darn it, reality is supposed to go OUR way! The world is meant to adjust according to our schedule. When we’re going somewhere, everyone else on the road ought to know where it is we’re going and exactly just how important it is. When we’re at the check-out line at the store, that idiot in front of us should know that we are in a hurry and if we do not get that extra minute the world will suffer cataclysmic change.
Of course, chances are, when we get home with that extra minute, we’ll waste it and while we’re wasting it, we’ll get upset with others for interrupting it. I know my Mrs. had to remind me a few times that my family doesn’t always know they’re interrupting something when they call. Granted sometimes people do interrupt, but do they know that?
And speaking of family, they can often receive the greatest extent of our wrath. After all, they should know our demands better than anyone else and they should know the way we want things to be. Why is it that they are not complying with our wishes? Can’t anyone see how important MY needs are at this moment?
Could it be that your needs really aren’t that important?
And could it be that honestly, they’re not really needs?
C.S. Lewis once said that we are all very hard to live with, and indeed we are. When I preached my sermon on love, I had even said in it that my wife is at a disadvantage seeing as being married to me, she never has to learn patience whatsoever. I also then told the audience that our couch would be nice and clean that evening if they visited seeing as I’d be sleeping on it. Yes. I am very hard to live with also. (If she reads this, she will give a huge “AMEN” I am sure.)
While we may think the rest of the world should be more considerate of us, perhaps we should see if we are more considerate of the rest of the world. You can influence other people for good or evil and you will do so in fact, so you’d best try to influence them for good. You can only change one person directly however. It is not your child. It is not your brother or sister. It is not your friend. It is not your parent. It is not your spouse. The only person you can directly change is you.
So if you’re going to change someone, why not start with the someone you see in the mirror every day?
Might it be nice if that other person changed too? Yes. It could be. Perhaps you can influence that, but you can definitely do something about you so that whether that person changes or not, you can still live in a Christlike manner. Do you want your Christlikeness to depend on what the other person does?
This issue that you think is all-important right now, will it really matter a year from now? I remember speaking to a friend once concerning a mutual friend of ours and how she said that the situation was so bad that she didn’t really know how their friendship would survive. I remembered that and about a year later asked her how she and this friend were doing. “Fine. Why?” I then reminded her of that incident. It was a revealing moment for the both of us.
Of course, when we make it a panic situation, we’re normally forgetting God as well. If we want to talk about someone who is patient, it is God. What is it that we’re putting up with? Well someone is driving too slow or haggling with the cashier about the price of an item or our parents are nagging or our spouse is interrupting our work or our kids are making too much noise.
When it comes to God, we’re guilty of divine treason.
Treason? Isn’t that a bit strong?
No. If anything, it’s not strong enough. If you are driving down the road and you see a police officer, do you not tend to automatically slow down and make sure you are doing everything right? If you are at work and you realize your boss is watching, do not most of us try to make sure we’re doing the best we can at our job? If you’re a student at school and you know the teacher is coming by, do not most of us try to make sure we look like we’re studying or working hard?
Why? We know these people have the authority to deal with us if they see us stepping out of line and we could pay the consequences.
However, with the ever-present God who is the all-knowing judge, we don’t do that. Consider what we are denying.
We are denying His omnipotence saying He does not have the power to judge us.
We are denying His omniscience saying He does not know that our way is better for us than His.
We are denying His omnipresence by saying that He does not see. Our sin is secret.
We are denying His omnibenevolence in saying He does not have the best for us in mind.
We are denying His sovereignty saying that our rule is superior to His.
In essence, we are saying He is not who He claims to be. We will be on the throne of our lives instead of Him.
Everyone of those sins merits us eternal punishment also and is the reason Christ died.
Now take a look at any sin you’ve committed and consider the Son on the cross and ask “Is it really worth it?”
“Is it really worth losing my cool with that guy on the interstate I don’t know?”
“Is it really worth mentally insulting the person in front of me at the store taking a long time at the check-out?”
“Is it really worth getting upset with my parents when they just want to help?”
“Is it really worth getting upset with my spouse when chances are they just want to spend time with me?”
“Is it really worth getting upset with my children when they could just be wanting to be with Mom or Dad?”
Now of course, there are times to act. These times we normally know. If your children are seriously misbehaving, by all means let it be known and deal with them. However, you must know if they are really misbehaving or if it might be just something in you that needs to change. For what needs to change in you, the starting place is your reactions. How are you handling the situation? Don’t just look at what you’re doing on the outside. Look at what’s going on inside.
J. Allan Petersen says in his book “Your Reactions Are Showing” that we can see a small child in a room of toys playing and think this is a happy and contented child. We cannot know that from those actions. Want to know what kind of child you really have? Just bring in another one and see how the first one reacts to having to “share” his or her toys.
Many of us can be good Christians on the outside, but we all know who we are on the inside with our reactions and we have to ask if they’re really being Christlike. Are we treating others the way Jesus did? Yes. Jesus got tough at times. Jesus was soft at times. Both times He was so appropriately. It’s not an all or nothing game. We have to see how He did it and see if we’re following likewise.
Then we must remember that we, the ones guilty of divine treason, have a God who is patient with us in all of this. Ought we not to be patient with our fellow man the way God has with us?
We shall continue next time.