What does it mean to be patient or long-suffering?
In 1 Corinthians 13:4 Paul tells us that the first characteristic of biblical love is that it is to be patient or long-suffering. The Greek work makrothymeo is comprised of two parts: macro = long and thymeo = to suffer. Hence, the word long-suffering. It’s a word that was used to denote a calm and gentle response to the kind of suffering, pressures, difficulties, or injuries that are caused by people, not circumstances (Mack, 34). Jonathon Edwards, in commenting on the definition of the word long-suffering says that “we should be willing to suffer injuries without doing anything to get revenge either with injurious deeds or bitter words.” Still further it means that “we will bear injuries from others without losing the quietness and repose of our own hearts and minds – that when we are injured we will be willing to suffer much for the sake of peace, rather than do what we have the opportunity and perhaps right to do in defending ourselves” (Mack, 34).
In case you’re like me where you’re nodding your head in agreement but possibly having a difficult time putting your heart and mind around this truth Wayne Mack serves us well by giving us a litany of examples where we’re treated unjustly or unfairly, and thus, an opportunity for us to live out a long-suffering and patient type of love is upon us. Here they are:
When others are unfair or dishonest in their dealing with us.
When others make promises they don’t keep.
When others misrepresent us or exaggerate our faults and mistakes.
When others injure us in their minds and entertain belittling thoughts about us.
When others express those evil, demeaning thoughts in words to us or by the expressions on their faces.
When others over whom we have God-given authority deny us the respect and honor and cooperation that our position rightly deserves.
When others who have God-given authority over us misuse that authority by behaving in a proud, selfish, arrogant, and uncaring way.
When others seems to be concerned about only their interests in any given situation.
When others are stubborn and determined to have their own way and will not listen to the ideas of others even if their way is unreasonable and others will be hurt by it.
When others seem pleased when we are cast down because they wickedly think that our fall will elevate or benefit them.
When others keep up a grudge toward us and carry about with them a spirit of revenge and malice.
When others blame us for something we didn’t say or do.
When others don’t cooperate with us.
When others take longer to do something than it ought to take.
When others don’t close doors, turn off lights, hang up clothes, or put tools away, or when they borrow books and then don’t put them back where they get them.
When others don’t listen well and we have to repeat ourselves.
When others constantly repeated themselves.
When others are late for appointments.