Agape love, the love Paul writes about in I Corinthians 13 has the characteristic and quality of being Patient. Another phrase used in other Bible versions is “suffers long”.
As an illustration of long suffering, you might remember back to your early years when you first learned to walk, talk, and tie your shoe. Well, if you could remember the first steps and words, you would have seen parents that were super patient, long suffering, and encouraging as you took a small step, first with help and then alone and finally, you left crawling behind.
In the Bible, a good illustration of long suffering and patience is found in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. Here is a servant brought before his master and in his plea for mercy, he says…
So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ (Mat 18:26)
Do you know what the master did? He forgave the whole debt. Many dispute how much it was in today’s dollars but whether millions or billions, it was more than could be paid in a lifetime or ten!
So the servant, probably astonished at his good fortune went straight out and found a fellow servant who owed a small amount. Again, we don’t know the exact amount but it would be a manageable debt to be paid over time. This fellow servant also begged for mercy and in what should have felt like deja vu, he pleaded:
So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ (Mat 18:29)
Only the servant would not be forgiving or patient! In other words, he would not show love.
In the context of Matthew 18, all about forgiveness, we cannot miss the lesson to be learned: Love is willing to bear with those who need patience. Not everyone “cleans up” as quickly and some rough edges take time to go away. We are not taking about patience with Sin but with sinners.
Impatient people (e.g. unloving) forget that they also had their sins forgiven and, not only are not better than the other servants but, in many cases, were worse than them to begin with.
Love is patient. Are you?
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. (Jas 5:7)
The idea of being patient is one that many times we do not want to embrace. Especially in today’s society, we are a group of people that is very impatient. We are the age of people who stands in front of the microwave and yell “HURRY UP!”. We are the ones who stand in long lines or camp out 4 days early for the newest Ipad or Iphone. Indeed, patience is not a characteristic that our age is known by.
This post will be short and ask for you input. I have normally thought of this verse and verse 8 as words written to the ones who are being oppressed. Yet, it may be that James, after chastising these rich, is saying to them: The cure for all of these issues (from 4:13 to here) is Patience.
You don’t need to spend your time seeking after riches and traveling around with grand plans that don’t include God. You don’t have to fall into the mentality that “it is every man for himself” and fail to pay what is right, you don’t have to defraud people to line your pockets with gold.
God had been waiting years for His Son to come, He waited while the prophets preached and He is waiting while the Gospel is going forth. He is not impatient. All will be ok. If you wish to shortcut the laws of God to gain what you want, it won’t work in the first place and, in addition to that, you no longer have the character of God in your lives because God is patient.
So you may be a little less rich when life is over, you will have treasures in Heaven. So you have to wait to buy a new car every 6 years instead every 2, your car can’t go with you to Heaven. The Lord is coming back and so we wait for that. As we live our lives in this world, we should be, if we have food and clothing, content people.
Question: Lord willing we will have another post on this using my other thought that it applies to those who are suffering, but does this presentation of it applying to the rich work also?