I would venture to say that many of you have been to a wedding where 1 Corinthians 13 was read as part of the ceremony. It says:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends….So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1Cor 13:1-8a; 13)
Though the broader context of this passage is the Church, it is likely that whenever we hear these verses, we immediately think of marriage. To be fair, this teaching on Love can be applied to the marriage relationship, but for a while now, I’ve been thinking through it in terms of parenting. Have you ever considered this passage in light of your kids? When I have, it has been a punch to the gut.
I am going to start a series of posts that deal with these attributes of Love from the perspective of parenting. Today, I want to look at the phrase “Love is patient and kind” (1Cor 13:4a).
Why? Why must Paul start with “patient”? If I was writing the bible, patient is not the first word I would use to describe love. Some of the other characteristics he uses? Sure. It isn’t selfish or rude or resentful, but why does he start with patient? Certainly this isn’t always a natural response. I mean sure, when your kids are being sweet and cute, it’s easy to be patient with their shortcomings. “I know they didn’t pick up their toys, but wasn’t that cute the way he made that face?” But since we all know that Love, agape love, is not simply a feeling, but an action, it is something that needs to exist not simply in the easy times, but in the hard times.
When our children are being disobedient or cranky, love in action demands that we be patient. When my kids are being disobedient or cranky, love in action demands that I be patient. When I am being disobedient or cranky, agape love is how the Father responds to me…with patience (2 Peter 3:9).
Patience and Kindness are two sides of the same coin. Maybe you are like me, when I lack patience, I also lack kindness. When I become impatient, my words become harsh and my body language becomes stiff and cold.
Paul, in this passage, is not writing from love in the best case scenario, but rather what agape love looks like in the grind of real life.
If I ask if you are loving with patience and kindness, most of us will likely say no. The rest are either missing the point or lying. The truth is that if you are responding in a way that lacks patience and kindness, then you are not acting in love.
Love is patient and Kind.
What are you going to do this week to Love your kids in this way?