Love is patient and kind (vs. 4).
If you want to test someone’s patience, send them to a dreadful place called Woodruff Road. The South Carolina road system was built for a simpler life—one with a few farm vehicles and maybe a tractor…not ten thousand cars and trucks driven by transplanted Northerners who think they can drive as crazy as they did in Boston!
Here ye the ballad of Woodruff Road. The city planners did not possess enough brain power to realize this: if you squeeze every major shopping center in the entire Upstate onto one road, you may cause some traffic issues. It seems every day they’re opening another major store on that road—stores I would love to go to! But I can’t work up enough patience to sit in traffic for hours, inching from pothole to pothole and enduring the angry glares of aggressive drivers who need another cup of coffee (and driving lessons).
But Paul starts off true love’s list with a hard one: love is patient. Makrothumei is the word. It literally means to be loooooooong spirited! Like longer than it takes to get from one side of Woodruff to the other on Black Friday! Longer than the Obamacare bill. Longer even than to the moon and back!
A person who has agape is a person who keeps and keeps and keeps on loving! The kind of person who will tolerate their spouse doing the same annoying thing over and over again. The kind of person who can deal with their toddler’s hissy fits, their baby’s poopy diapers, and their teenager’s F’s all at the same time—without losing their cool!
Now maybe you’re thinking, “Ya, I can be patient. I won’t blow up in anyone’s face…at least on the outside. But inside, I’ll be a swirling vortex of terror!” But notice that love is not just patient—it’s kind. This kind of person doesn’t just grit its teeth—it goes out of the way to be nice to the offender! It actively seeks the good of others. The word “kind” can almost mean “easy,” as in, the easy-going person who does not get easily offended or blow up.
Who in the world could be like that? After all, how long can you last upon hearing your alarm before losing it and getting upset? I can get…oh, maybe five seconds, tops. Because even my alarm makes me lose my patience! And if I have a great morning and somehow get through breakfast by being completely kind (must’ve been bacon), then I quickly lose it when the car behind me is going warp-speed on my bumper but the car in front of me thinks it’s 1909! If you rode in the car with me on my daily commute past Woodruff Road…well, maybe it’s better for your safety that you don’t.
We all lose it sometimes. Ya, we’re more microthumei, not makrothumia. Short-tempered. We can’t handle these frustrating people! Life would be a lot better if everyone around us wasn’t so depraved all the time! How can God expect me to love that grandpa who accelerates like Jabba the Hut? How can He expect me to show kindness to the roommate who keeps his room messier than Waffle House at 3 AM? How can I love the person who exists solely to annoy me—that guy at church who disagrees with me on nearly every issue!?
It’s simple, really: you can’t! But God can. Er, He did. Think of Christ. Did He suffer long? Longer than those drops of blood. Longer than that betrayer’s kiss. Longer than those false accusations. Longer than those nails, that cross—longer than eternity! For you.
He didn’t lose control in a fit of rage. He didn’t get frustrated with those who were ripping His beard from His face. Instead, He urged God to forgive these murderers—to forgive me! He was kind to the cruel—kind to His very killer!
I don’t think that the man who stole your pew in church is trying to kill you. I don’t think that honker in traffic wants to see you on a cross. How minor our inconveniences look when compared to Christ—as they should be! In light of all He endured—and yet still remained patient and kind.
I want that kind of love…love that stretches to the moon and back!