Scripture: Love is patient.  1 Corinthians 13:4

Observation:  Suffereth long. In vs. 4–7 Paul proceeds to analyze love. He points out seven excellent characteristics of love and eight acts and attitudes that are totally foreign to its nature. In this eulogy he sets forth the superior quality of love in both its positive and its negative aspect. The personification of love in these verses heightens the beauty of the description, for Paul ascribes to love those characteristics that are found in all who truly love. Throughout the paragraph occasional glimpses are seen of the faults in the church at Corinth that were in direct contrast to the excellent qualities of love.

Forbearance, or long-suffering, in a world where impatience and intolerance prevail, is a precious attribute. Love bears long with the faults, failings, and weaknesses of others. It recognizes that all human beings are fallible, and that, therefore, due allowance must be made for manifestations of the outworking of errors that result from man’s inherently sinful nature. Long-suffering is opposed to haste, to passionate expressions and thoughts, and to irritability. This word denotes the state of mind that enables a man to be patiently quiet and to bear long when oppressed, wrongfully accused, and persecuted (see Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 4:2; 2 Peter 3:15; cf. Matt. 26:63; 27:12, 14; see on Matt. 5:10–12). He who is long-suffering possesses one of the fruits of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22). [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (780). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application: We have heard the saying, “God, give me patience. . . and do it right now!”  While we laugh about it, secretly we wish that were the case sometimes.  We long to be more patient but don’t have the patience to wait for this process to take place in our lives or marriages. When those who have been married for many years are asked the secret of marital success, many identify patience as a key ingredient. It’s the indispensable virtue for living together day after day in relative peace, without constant struggles to change the other to the way we think they should be.

In marriage, patience means knowing what needs to be changed and when, and what we need to learn to accept.  Many couple on their wedding day probably considered their spouse practically perfect and then set out to change or improve them only to find out that they didn’t necessarily want to be changed.  In fact, they probably had their own ideas for our own improvement!

We should indeed try to change.  What we need to be clear about is that we need to try to make changes in our own life and behavior instead of trying to change our spouse.  Change, however, takes time.  In fact, it takes a lifetime, which is the reason why we need patience, both with ourselves, with our spouse, and with our marriage.  But each day brings a small opportunity to cultivate the virtue and to grow one’s marriage.

Healthy marriages grow and change. Social scientists point out that a couple can go through seven or more stages of marriage throughout a lifetime. Some stages hold excitement and promise: a child arrives or the couple moves into their dream home.

During this lifetime process of change there will inevitably be  periods of disillusionment and boredom. They may find their spouse unappealing and wonder how they can ever spend the rest of their life with this person. Sometimes a couple may even consider divorce.  These stages, although difficult, are normal. With patience, a couple can work through them and emerge into the next stage with a deeper appreciation of each other and of their marriage.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, bless us with ever increasing amounts of patience with ourselves, and in particular with our spouse so our marriage will be healthier, stronger, and long-lasting.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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