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Love’s True Expression

August 1st, 2011

“Love is patient and kind.” 1 Corinthians 13:4 NLT

Loving others begins with the Christian civility of patience and kindness.”

My thoughts today are about “love’s true expression.”

The Bible warns, “Quick! Catch all the little foxes before they ruin the vineyard of your love.” Song of Solomon 2:15 NLT. Marriages, friendships, and even business relationships are not as commonly damaged by big things like dishonesty or disloyalty as by little things, like taking one another for granted, or disrespect, ingratitude, or ongoing criticism and complaint. It‘s those small inconsistencies that may appear negligible when they occur, but are relationally destructive as they accumulate.

They are eventually harmful because such attitudes and actions stand in stark contrast to love; such little irritations grow in the fertile soil of impatience with others and its resulting unkindness. I regret to say that impatience is an area with which I am not altogether unfamiliar. I have learned to be more patient after observing that my tone of voice and words became less kind when I was less patient. I hope I have improved in this important area as I have grown in Christ and matured in life.

In Paul’s majestic discourse about love at its best and most sincere, he writes, Love is patient and kind . . it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4/7 NLT/NIV. As I have thought of that description, beautiful and practical in its simplicity, I observe that patience is a prerequisite of kindness. To me, kindness seems an observable evidence of patience. Patience with another person opens the door to your kindness being expressed toward them in thought, word, or deed. Patience is a choice you make; kindness is the expression of your choice.

Can you imagine God’s love for you being absent of patience, and lacking kindness? Wouldn’t that confuse you? The Bible teaches that God’s kindness is directly linked with your salvation. “And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of His favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us through Christ Jesus. God saved you by His special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:7-9 NLT. See Titus 3:4-7 TEV.

Here’s the practical application. Are you and I not required to be gracious with others as God has been with us, and as gracious as we wish Him to be continue to be toward us? Can I treat you in a lesser way and still expect God to treat me in a better way? Jesus was pretty clear about His expectations – a “new commandment” that “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34-35 NLT. That is not a suggestion, nor a noble objective; that is non-negotiable, a command to obey! Loving others begins with the Christian civility of patience and kindness.

My prayer for you today is that patience and kindness will crown your relationships.

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