If you want to know something about love from God’s perspective, read the entirety of Scripture and it flows from every page. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul gives 15 present-tense verbs that describe for us who love is and is not to behave itself. The foundation of the word ‘agape’ as used throughout this chapter is sacrifice. It is doing what is right and best for others before myself. How important is this? John says, “He who does not love does not know God for God is love.” If this is not put into place in our lives, we are as those who do not know God! Let’s examine the first description given by the Apostle Paul: Love suffers long.
By definition, love is long in coming to anger. That means that love is willing to suffer as long as it is required on behalf of another. We ask – “What are my options when people hurt me because I want to react when people hurt me. The answer is, “I want you to love them without retaliating.” How long do you want me to do this? LONG – over and over! You don’t expect me to seek vengeance? Nope – love suffers long.
If this is unsatisfying, let’s examine the love of Jesus – the perfect example of everything. Jesus is long-suffering. In Matthew 26:49-53, Jesus is betrayed with a kiss by Judas and then those with him lay hands on Jesus. Peter takes out his sword and cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest, and what does Jesus say and do? Jesus reminds Peter and those with him that He could have called more than 12 legions of angels – at least 36,000 angels (3,000 in a legion), but don’t miss this…what Jesus is saying to Peter is plain – “I have made a different choice.” Jesus decided to suffer long! Long-suffering (patient) love is shown when you have the power to retaliate, but you choose to accept the injury and choose not to seek vengeance!
Would Jesus really expect this of me? Peter makes it clear that the answer is very much in the affirmative. Jesus left us an example to follow in His steps, who did not revile in return when He suffered, He did not threaten and we were called to follow His steps (1 Peter 2:18-25).
Often, what we find is easy is to treat others the way they treat us – if they are nice, we are nice, but if they are rude, we can find it easy to be rude in return – isn’t that right? There is no power in that! It is weakness – you just turn to mush and let others dictate how you will be. In 1 Corinthians 13 – we are to be those who are willing to suffer long – those who are only going to react in a God-honoring; Jesus-mirroring way! – Adam Orr