“Charity suffereth long …” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
What a difference there is between the supposed love of man and the genuine love of God. The fraudulent love of man is easily exposed. It can be all sweetness and charm, but if it does not get what it wants, it can quickly turn bitter and ugly. Should this even be called love?
God’s love is of a completely different character. Does He have a will and a desire? He certainly does. He would have this whole earth be in one accord with His will. But what happens when it is not? Does His anger immediately smoke? Does He begin to rain thunderbolts down from heaven upon an uncooperative earth? No. He is patient. He is longsuffering. He is slow to wrath. He is all these things because He IS love. Love is willing to wait. Love is not demanding or oppressive. Love is willing to put its own desire own hold for the sake of another. Love accepts delay in getting to its “destination.” Love despises force and violence and would rather be alone than have an unwilling partner. Love, if need be, is willing to go without and suffer long.
God gives man many opportunities to grow in His love. We do not live in a world where all around us are perfectly synched with us. What we would like to happen; what we would like to do; is not often where another’s mind is at. When we see that there is resistance to our plan of action we become frustrated. Anger flares. “Why?” we ask. “Why is is so hard for someone to do what I would like them to do?” Well, the answer is rather simple. They are not you, they are them. They have their “own things” that they want to do, they have their own agenda and objectives, they have different plans and purposes in mind. Who then is going to budge? When two cars reach the same intersection who is going to yield?
Can we only be happy when we get what we want? Are we miserable and do we make others miserable when we don’t get our way? That is no way to live.
It is the natural tendency of man to have his own things placed above the things of others. He would always be first. He would always have his way. He would always have his will accomplished and his desire fulfilled. Why? Because in that place of reaching his “destination” he no longer suffers. His want has been filled. The car is parked in the driveway and he can finally rest. But is this the rest that God would bring us into? Can we only be happy when we get what we want? Are we miserable and do we make others miserable when we don’t get our way? That is no way to live.
God calls us to dwell in love. To put on charity is to let the peace of God rule in our hearts. (Colossians 3:14,15) It is to understand that the chief purpose of our lives is not self-fulfillment, but to know the love of Christ, and be filled with all the fullness of God. In the midst of encountering all manner of desires that arise within us on a daily basis we must ask ourselves, “What is more important to me, having this desire fulfilled, or dwelling in the love of God?” God uses a contrary world that surrounds us to try our hearts. We can become incensed by their “selfishness,” but are we being any less selfish? They may not be exhibiting the mind of Christ, but are we? Instead of giving place to anger in such times of frustration, we are called to grow in the love of God. Yes, it can gall us that we are not being considered, that others are so caught up in their own world that they are insensitive to how we feel and what we would like, but isn’t this where God lives when it comes to an earth that doesn’t give Him the time of day? Yet, He is patient and slow to wrath.
Because God was not willing for you to perish, He was willing to suffer long and wait for you to consider His pleasure instead of your own. Aren’t you glad? He loved you before you loved Him. May we be like Him to all around us who need a demonstration of the patient love of God.