“Love’s Two Primary Responses”
1 Corinthians 13:4
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.4 Part 1 Love is Patient and Kind
1 Co. 13…Patience is a virtue! But it’s becoming an exceedingly rare quality in modern society. According to a survey from last month of 2,000 British adults, all of the luxuries of modern life have made many people incredibly impatient — across pretty much every aspect of their lives. Three out of four of those surveyed said technology is to blame for this ever growing lack of patience.
How long would it take for you to become frustrated waiting for a webpage to load? Those surveyed said 16 seconds. What about a traffic light to change? 25 seconds. Waiting for ink to dry on a greeting card? 20 seconds. Your movie doesn’t stream online correctly… 22 seconds. And for these British respondents, waiting for the kettle to boil for a cup of tea: 28 seconds is the limit on patience.
Respondents said that they would lose their temper after waiting an excessive amount of time in line. What is excessive for waiting in line? 30 seconds would be enough to try their patients.
But of course 95% of those surveyed admitted that they believe patience is a virtue.
And love is patient. We’re studying 1 Co. 13 so let’s read vv. 1 to the first line of verse 8
1 Corinthians 13:1–8 1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails…
POINT: Because love is better than any giftedness like tongues or even mountain-moving faith, and because love is patient and kind, I would rather have patience and kindness than giftedness.
And we discovered last time why the Corinthians needed this beautiful rebuke about love. There was division, “I’m of Paul” and “I’m of Apollos!” They were taking each other to court and harshly criticizing each other about their giftedness or lack there of. Even the apostle Paul’s speaking ability was not immune to their attacks.
And so this marvellous chapter is a rebuke. Not only were they divisive, that lack of love showed itself in their exaltation of giftedness, particularly tongues as chapters 12 and 14 show. “Wow, you have the miraculous ability to speak a foreign language you never learned? Can I…um…can I just touch that mouth of gold?” You can also hear the opposite….
“What, you don’t have a public gift like I do? You must not be a loser.” So Paul has to correct them about spiritual gifts in chapter 12 and in chapter 14 and in the middle we have this great chapter on love.
And the Corinthian view of giftedness is in our hearts also. You make business decisions based on gifts. Which electrician do you call? The gifted one! We value the Wayne Gretzky’s and the Michael Jordan’s, the best movie directors and actors and the most skilled musicians. And unfortunately that mindset carries over into the church!
The church today values the gifted the most! The most gifted pastors and preachers, soloists, the greatest givers and servants, even the cutest or most behaved kids … and it’s all worldly. God’s value on these people is not in their giftedness… but in their love. And that’s where we should be.
And so again, I challenge us: we must not evaluate each other in the church based on our giftedness or lack thereof. But we must help each other love. “Let us provoke one another to love.”
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It’s disgusting, but it’s common. “…but if I do not have love, I am nothing.” My ability to lead, preach, pastor, counsel, disciple, give, and even trust God … etc., is a distant second or more in the eyes of God compared to my ability to love. That’s why I said last week I’d rather have 5 times the love than 5 times the preaching ability. That’s why I want to value your expressions of love above your use of your gifts. Just like the Corinthians, dissatisfaction about giftedness in the church is due to a lack of love. And it deserves this poetic rebuke of love from the apostle Paul in this 13th chapter.
And this chapter is eating me alive. It’s grieving me and it’s rebuking me. The last message I preached, I believe, was one of the most important messages that I have ever needed to hear.
I have been wrestling with this passage in my heart for weeks now …. the difficulty of it and the struggle to love, my failures in the past, and the intense spiritual discipline that it takes to express love… have all challenged me…
…to the point where I’ve had moments where my stomach just churns! In certain circumstances, it seems nearly impossible for a human being redeemed by Jesus Christ to love. But yet I know that’s not the case, but yet it feels like that! As I said last week the most regretful times that I can think of in the past seven years as a pastor has been when I have lacked this quality of love, this action, this choice to love.
But I believe by God’s grace that He will continue helping me wrestle through this passage and strengthen me to love. And I hope that you sense all this also. They always say that the teacher learns more than the student, but I trust that to some degree you are going to take this to heart and give your self over to the pursuit of love and loving others.
Let us recall that love is a choice made, an action completed, not a feeling felt. Christian love is an action completed, not a feeling felt. I wonder if we’ll ever really come to appreciate the stark contrast between how our culture thinks of love and biblical love. Let me ask you then, “How would you know if you truly loved someone?” Really ponder that for a moment, how would you know that? Teenager, if I woke you up at 3am what would be your response?
Husband, wife, employee, … son or daughter …
And so I asked my kids, “How would you know if you truly loved someone?” And the survey says … from youngest to oldest …. 5 yo Pazli said, “If you let someone else have 20 turns before you have a turn.” Rosie and Hudson, “if you are friends with them and are with them a lot.” Haddie, “If you really care about them … and I know where you’re going with it, 1 Co. 13 ‘love is patient, love is kind.'”
My wife and I had a great discussion after that. As I left to go back to the office to study, instead of “I love you” I said, “I’m patient with you, I’m kind to you” in a kind of joking way. And that piqued her interest and pointed out that to say “I love you in” in our culture is not to say, “I am patient with you, I am kind to you” That would be bragging. To say “I love you” is to say “you are awesome to me.” And so we questioned together, “Do we ever use this term “love” to refer to what the Bible actually is talking about when it talks about love?”
And so was your response to “How would you know if you truly loved someone?” … is it “I’ll know if I love someone if I’m patient with them…If I’m kind to them?” Would that have occurred to you?
I think that this goes to show how much biblical love rubs against our own understanding of love. And perhaps it shows that maybe we should have the KJV translation, ‘charity.’
And so let us never forget that you’re not a great person, a great church member, a great pastor or preacher, worker, whatever, simply because you’re gifted. To be a great person in the eyes of God takes love. And love is patient and kind.
POINT: And so because love is patient and kind, I will endeavour to esteem patience and kindness in myself and others over and above giftedness. That concept right there is what is giving me the once over … because love is better than giftedness and because love is patient and kind, I will endeavour to esteem patience and kindness in myself and others over and above giftedness.
This morning, we have love’s two-sided coin: Patience and kindness. These are the two primary responses in love.
First is patience and I trust you have a sense of urgency about the need for patience… like the clever one who said, “Lord, give me patience and …what…give it to me now!”
Love is Patient (Text)
The Corinthians would have had a hard time with patience. Corinth is in Greece and the Ancient Greeks valued revenge in first century. Not to seek revenge against wrong doing was cowardice. Even when you didn’t feel like revenging a wrong doing against you or your family, to do so was necessary and virtuous.  On a long car ride, Hudson and I listened to a dramatization of Lew Wallace’s Ben Hur written in 1880. It is set during the life of Christ. Judah Ben Hur is seeking revenge against a childhood friend for falsely imprisoning him and his family. But when it’s all said and done, he trusts Christ and forgives. Revenge was virtuous in the first century.
It of course is no more easy for us to practice it. But what is it?
What is Patience?
It’s what John Chrysostom, the 4th century pastor, the golden-mouthed preacher says, “that a patient man is one who, having the resources and opportunity to avenge himself, chooses to refrain from the exercise of these.” No revenge.
You could translate it, “love suffers long.” The Greek word has built into it the word for anger or wrath. But on the front of that word it has the word “long.” Through that we get the idea that the word has reference to somebody who would take a long time for them to become angry.
Your computer crashes and you lose your work. You can’t find your keys or you stub your toe. Somebody is talking during the movie. The light turns green after 30 seconds and then the car in front of you doesn’t actually go. Someone condemns you to your face and gets angry with you or complains about you.
You are the butt of someone’s joke, they didn’t give you credit for what good thing you did. They misjudge you and accuse you of something you are not. They disregard your opinion about a matter. They are complaining about you, they pooh-pooh your gifting from God and exalt their own.
These are all opportunities to suffer long with others, to be patient to forbear, not to avenge with the tongue or even the heart, but to be tolerant, not to break out in wrath.
Illustrations in Scripture
God is patient
God is our primary example of patience.
You know, it was after the people of Israel made the golden calf that the Lord passed by in front of Moses and proclaimed, “the Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious and … our word … the Lord is “slow to anger.” Literally in Hebrew, I think I enjoy this too much … but He is literally “long of nostrils” translated with our Greek word “patient.” The secret is out, our Bible versions don’t translate everything word for word!
But why long of nostrils?
When somebody gets angry their nostrils flare, their skin gets red, and their breathing becomes heavy. But the Lord? …no!… He is long of nostrils, He is long suffering, patient, not soon angry.
ILL: In my studies of apologetics, I came across Robert Ingersoll. Ingersoll was a champion for agnosticism in the 19th century. Interestingly enough, Lew Wallace, the author of Ben Hur, had a conversation with Ingersoll, and was ashamed he couldn’t defeat his arguments. After much study, it lead him to write Ben Hur.
Nevertheless, Ingersoll had a prosperous speaking career. After delivering one of his addresses, he pulled his watch from his pocket and said, “In this talk, I have blasphemed God and so I will give Him five minutes to strike me dead and damn my soul.”
There was a period of perfect silence while one minute went by; two minutes passed, and people began to get nervous; three minutes, and a woman faints; four minutes, and Ingersoll curled his lip.
At five minutes, he snapped shut his watch, put it in his pocket, and said: “You see, there is no God, or He would have taken me at my word.”
The story was told later to an English preacher, who said, “And did the American gentleman think he could exhaust the patience of the eternal God in just five minutes?”
Life of Jesus
God is patient and never a man showed patience like our Lord. Some arrogant soul could think to himself, “it takes a lot of patience for me to always be right and to tolerate others’ ignorance.” But our Lord Jesus actually did have perfect understanding of human nature and was always right and did have to tolerate much at the hands of men.
The disciples are debating among themselves, “who is the greatest?” And we marvel that they could while actually walking with Jesus. And yet we, because we too easily exalt giftedness over and above love, we can read that passage and turn to our brother and sister and compare ourselves with them just the same or, with a sense of self-righteousness, look down our nose or get frustrated at others’ ministry, essentially asking the same question, “Who’s the greatest?”
Peter, James, and John fall asleep praying the night before Jesus is crucified, moments before Jesus is arrested. Jesus’ grief and patience are found in the words, “Are you still sleeping and resting?”
And how slow of heart they were to believe! On the mount of Transfiguration, Jesus’ glory, the very glory God, is shining through Him and with one of the great examples of anticlimax Peter exclaims, “Hey, let’s build some tents!”
It’s at the end of Jesus’ ministry and Phillip says to Jesus, “show us the Father and it is enough for us.” Jesus replies, “have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
After the resurrection, Thomas says “unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and place my finger in the mark of the nails …AND… Place my hand into his side, I will never believe” … After eight days of patience Jesus gladly accommodates his unbelief.
Peter and the rest of the apostles abandon Jesus the night before he’s crucified…Peter famously denying him 3 times. And yet Jesus comes and restores him …3 times… “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Simon, son of John do you love me?” And Jesus says to this one who denied him a few days earlier … Tend my lambs, Shepherd my sheep, tend my sheep.
If anyone was righteous to express wrath, it was Jesus. Yet he was even long-suffering toward his enemies. While he is being nailed to the cross, Jesus has it in Himself…He has the patience within Himself, the long suffering in Himself to say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
How could I ever exalt speech gifts, faith, and even martyrdom above the grand display of the strength of patience such as that.
POINT: Because love is better than giftedness and love is patient and kind, be it resolved this day that here at Northlight we will esteem in ourselves and feach other patience and kindness above giftedness.
Life of other characters
Time would fail me if we went into detail about Joseph and how his brothers sold him into slavery and he said with patience, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for God.” Or Job’s patience in the face of his wife and 3 friends.
ILL: You know, I can generally be patient with people who are patient with me. I can only take so much of someone not being kind to me before my fuse begins to shorten and I want to run away or be mean back.
And so I’ve really pondered, how long before my patience is exhausted? Someone said to me this summer, “We are humans first and then we’re Christians.” Oh, how human we are! James said, “In many things, we offend.”
And you know what, I’m annoying! I really am! I’m just going to throw that out there … I’m not the least annoying person on the planet. I can grate people the wrong way…I know that’s true because I see people responding that way when I talk sometimes! What would I appreciate in those blessed moments? The same thing you would appreciate, and that’s patience, long suffering, bearing long with me, enduring my idiosyncrasies, my mediocre-ness, my lack of abilities, my whatever-s.
So, since love is in the context of giftedness, what would it look like to be patient with someone whom you really wished had greater gifts or different gifts or you wish they could their gifts….?
The problems I would have toward those people, the negative thoughts I would entertain toward them and the way they use their gifts, any anger I express, any problem I have with them because of their giftedness… it’s not their problem, it’s mine. I’m not being patient, but I need to be.
TRANS: At this point somebody could be thinking, “great! I just have to not blow up at people and not be angry at them and I’m good. I know what I should do: I should just avoid people that I’m impatient with and then I won’t be impatient with them.”
Nice try! Dear friend, you must also be kind.
Love is kind
Kindness is the other side of the coin. “Love is patient, love is kind.”
Whereas patience is me not giving you my anger and my displeasure … I’m holding that back … kindness is giving you good instead.
It’s meaning is illustrated well in Luke 6:35 when Jesus says …
Luke 6:35 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
Kindness is simply doing good to others.
The Lord has given much to unthankful people. He has poured out his blessings upon those who blaspheme his name. Ingersoll used the very breath given him by God to bring derision upon God’s name! Yet, Ingersoll was well-clothed, well-fed, and probably died peacefully.
God is kind to those who hate Him. Not only does He not lose His patience with them, but He is actively kind to them.
ILL: When Hans Egede [ele] went to Greenland as a missionary in 1721, he didn’t know the Inuit language. His temperament was often overbearing, and he struggled to be kind…. In 1733, a smallpox epidemic swept through Greenland, wiping out almost two-thirds of the Inuit people—and claiming Egede’s wife as well. This shared suffering with the people melted Egede’s harsh demeanor, and he began to tirelessly labor to care for the people physically and spiritually. Because his life now better represented the stories he told them of God’s love, the Inuits could at last grasp God’s desire to love them too. Even in suffering, their hearts turned to the Lord Jesus.
They knew through his love, that he truly was Jesus’ disciple.
And so love, when in a situation that requires patience, will rise above the fray and be kind also! Kindness will use speech in those moments that builds up and doesn’t tear down, that inspires others to good works and growth and doesn’t tear down and condemn.
ILL: I’m kind to a certain extent. I have limits on my kindness. That’s an appalling thought! God bring the day that loving others is so apart of my soul that I could take hours and hours of criticism, harsh treatment, and down-right dirty meanness… and not only be patient, but also kind!
Again, this thought is wrecking me b/c I’ve exalted gifts too much … My worth is not in my giftedness, but in my love. If you call me a mediocre (or worse) pastor or preacher, I’m …. um, slowly accepting that. But if I’m told I lack love, I need to do some serious reflecting and repenting and growing.
So, how do you respond when you have negative thoughts or feelings toward someone?
You may not yell at them or trash them … I hope you don’t …. but are you actively kind in response? Or do you distance yourself from certain people because you view them as no longer lovable? Kindness goes out of its way to express care and love to those it sees as unlovable.
Let’s say somebody really lays into you. Instead of berating them back, how could you show kindness to them? How can you be actively kind to this individual?
Do you run away from them and avoid them? Not at all! Love and kindness would grow closer to them and you seek to actively show kindness to them. When there is adversity, we don’t run from it, we go the extra mile and express kindness to them.
Not only be patient with them, but perhaps even invite them over to put the Lord’s food in that foul mouth!
Love doesn’t run away from personal injury like that; it is patient and attempts to embrace that person and heal that relationship and finds strength from God to show kindness.
It’s the same kindness that God has shown to us in salvation. You could make a note of these verses ….
Ephesians 4:32 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as [what?… just as] God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Titus 3:4–5 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
Giving kindness doesn’t demand that others be kind first anymore than the Lord demands that we do good works to be saved. God saves out of His great kindness. He is kind to sinners!
TRANS: Briefly this morning, how do we develop patience and kindness in our lives? Because… Proverbs 19:11 11 A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.
How to develop patience and kindness
To develop kindness, know God’s kindness to you in salvation. “Be kind … just as God has forgiven you.” Know God’s kindness to you in salvation, study it!
And then intentionally put it on! Don’t wait till it feels good, do it!
Colossians 3:12–13 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Put on a heart of kindness!
As patience and kindness are fruits of the Spirit, this is divine. It is a work of God in the heart. But we’re to actively seek it, putting it on like clothing. Complaining over giftedness or lack thereof, condemning each other, grumbling at each other … put a stop to it, be patient knowing of God’s patience to you, and put on kindness and plan for it.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.4 Part 1 Love is Patient and Kind
Life is not a dream no matter how gently you row your boat. You know that every day you have a thousand opportunities to be impatient and lack kindness. How can we better our love? Well, what makes a good ball player? Practice. What about a good artist, a good sculptor, a good musician? Practice. What will it require to love? Practice! 
So don’t refuse these words this morning! Don’t refuse to actively show kindness to someone because of how you feel. You may feel awkward or scared or like they should seek you first, like you’re too busy, or whatever. Put on kindness, act, plan do something. How can you express kindness after church today? At home this afternoon? On Monday at work? Wrestle against your own fleshly desires not to show kindness.
God the Son allowed himself to be conceived in the womb of his mother and he waited. And as a child he waited to grow up and having grown up, He did not demand attention…in that He was baptized by one of his own servants. And He patiently fights off the attacks of the devil by the true words of God. He is one who would not fight and did not cry out, as a lamb before its sheerers is silent, He opened not His mouth.
“A bruised reed He did not break and a burning wick He did not extinguish….
Like a shepherd He tends His flock, in His arm He gathers the lambs and carries them in His bosom; He gently leads the nursing ewes. He sustains a weary one with a word, lives with the lowly and contrite, he brings good news to the afflicted and binds up the brokenhearted and comforts those who mourn giving them a garland instead of ashes the oil of gladness instead of mourning the mantle of praise instead of the spirit of fainting.
He looks well to the one who trembles at His word, pardoning iniquity and healing diseases, binding up our wounds, refreshing the languishing and satisfying the weary, calling all who are weary and heavy laden to Himself to give them rest. He leaves the 99 and finds the one who has gone astray, willing to touch the lepers, and only rebuking Peter when he denied Him with a look.
Dying for hopeless sinners, sympathizing with us as one tempted in all things… And He who seems to delay his coming continues to wait, only because He is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.
May the Lord help us be as patient and kind as He.
562 I Gave My Life for Thee
Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 174–175. ↑