Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up (1 Corinthians 13:4, NKJV).
Love is enduringly patient. Instead of being short-fused, love is kind while being “long-spirited” (longsuffering) toward another. Truly, God has displayed love’s longsuffering toward us over and over. Even now, while God commands all to repent, He tarries with “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9; Acts 17:30). When we grasp the nature of God’s longsuffering love, it moves us to obey His command to repent: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance (Rom. 2:4)?” We must not deceive ourselves into thinking God’s love is so longsuffering that He does not judge and punish unrepented sin. God does not condone and reward sin; that is not genuine love. God’s love has made provisions for the redemption of sinners in the death of His Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8-11). The gospel calls sinners to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 3:14-21). What loving-kindness God shows us in Christ; He yearns for our salvation. In longsuffering, God continues to plead with sinners through Christ’s gospel to repent and be saved (Acts 2:37-41). May we show this kind of love to one another (John 13:34-35). Kind, longsuffering love opens doors of opportunity to serve each other, strengthen one another, and help save some.
Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11, NKJV)
Paul’s patient love for Mark compels us to ponder the breadth and depth of our love for brethren. Paul had not always considered Mark useful (good and profitable) for the service of the gospel. About 20 years earlier, John Mark had joined Paul and Barnabas on a preaching journey into Gentile regions, only to leave them and return to Jerusalem shortly after it began (Acts 13:4-5, 13). This failure to continue with them caused Paul to insist Mark would not be on his next preaching trip despite disagreeing with Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41). We should note that Paul did not “write off” Barnabas or Mark as unworthy Christians who did not love the Lord. The rest of the story makes this apparent. Paul was associated with Mark during his first Roman imprisonment (AD 60-62), sending greetings from him to the Colossian church and instructing them to welcome Mark if he came to them (Col. 4:10). Now, during his final days of life, Paul asked for Mark. The man he had refused to take with him roughly two decades earlier was now useful for the gospel’s service (2 Tim. 4:11). A great lesson of love’s patient endurance is staring us in the face (1 Cor. 13:4-7). Mark’s faith had matured, and Paul respected that. Paul loved Mark. Indeed, “love suffers long and is kind” as it rejoices in the truth. Love keeps on bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring all things, both in our attitudes and treatment of others. Love did not fail Paul and Mark. It will not fail us, either.
strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; (Colossians 1:11, NKJV)
The fruit of the Spirit is incomplete without longsuffering (Galatians 5:22). It is faithful fortitude in the face of incitement. Longsuffering is patient when provoked. It is being “long-tempered” – the opposite of having a short temper (a short fuse). It is self-restraint that does not hastily retaliate against a wrong that prevents wrathful revenge. It has been described as “that quality of self restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy” (Vine, 377). God’s longsuffering toward sinners is His compassion in action, “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). We must develop the same trait in our treatment of others, balancing compassion with patient persuasion and gentle mercy when wronged. Longsuffering does not fail to react to sin and wrongdoing; it does not overreact to it. Longsuffering is about bringing our passions under the control of God’s truth, patiently and mercifully dealing with one another, instead of hastily saying and doing things that hurt and harm. Longsuffering shows the character of Christ and enhances the opportunity for righteousness to prevail in our treatment of others (see Colossians 3:12-13).
8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:8–9, NKJV)
We are commanded to be patient, even in the face of suffering, like the laborers whose wages were being withheld fraudulently (Jas. 5:4). The Lord of Hosts sees every injustice, and will right every wrong when He comes in judgment (2 Thess. 1:6-7). R. C. H. Lenski’s comments on verse 9 are worthy of careful consideration: “The verb does not mean ‘to murmur’ but ‘to groan’ (Rom. 8:23)…to groan against each other as though one can blame his distress on another. When one is full of complaint he is ready to grumble against even his best friends in an unreasonable way. To give way to such feelings invites judgment from the Lord. And the readers must know that the Judge is already standing before the door. He has risen and has come near. What if he opens the door and steps in as suddenly and unexpectedly as he has said he will and finds us impatient, groaning at each other in dissatisfaction instead of being patient and firm?” (The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James, 655). Strengthen your heart by being patient in the face of trials. Do not grumble, groan and complain against others; the Judge is standing at the door. When He judges others, He will also judge you and me. Let us all be ready, by being patient in trials (Jas. 1:2-4).
rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12:12, NKJV)
Hope is not doubtful, halting and uncertain. The Christian’s hope rests upon evidence-based faith (Heb. 11:1). While we hope in things unseen, our hope vitalizes our joyful expectation of glory while reinforcing perseverance in the face of present distresses (tribulation). Prayer, our great means of immediate communication with our Father, emboldens our faith day by day. Notice the triplet employed here: In hope, let us rejoice; in tribulation, let us be patient; and in prayer, let us be steadfastly devoted. Our living hope does not remove us from distress; it focuses our sight on heavenly shores of victory and the eternal relief awaiting the faithful. Rejoice. Be patient. Keep praying.