Love suffers long

 

1.    More than a dozen years ago I preached on the qualities of love found in 1 Cor. 13.

2.    I am now ready to do that again, and the material is being restudied as if were the first time through it.

 

MORE THAN A DECADE AGO ONE OF THE THINGS I OVERLOOKED IS A LITTLE POINT FOUND IN ACTS 26:3—THE TEXT WE WERE ASKED TO KEEP READY.

 

a)      Paul was appearing before Agrippa because Jews had made some accusations.

b)      As this apostle made his defense he made a request recorded in verse 3 – READ.

 

2)      Paul said to this official, “hear me patiently.”

a)      Patiently is an adverb; it is found only here in the New Testament.

b)      This same basic word, however, is also used as a noun and a verb in the New Testament.

c)      Paul used it as a verb in 1 Cor. 13:4.  In fact, this is his first description of love.

d)      Paul said love “suffers long.”  This was what he was asking Agrippa to give him.

e)      What does suffer long mean?  The word has the sense of patience.

 

3)      If a person is going to learn the gospel of Christ as in Acts 26, he or she needs to be patient.

4)      It would be great if we could teach a person about salvation in 60 seconds or less.

5)      I like to condense things in many areas of life, but presenting the gospel in 5 minutes is pretty hard.

6)      To cover conversion, commitment, and the church will probably take at least the better part of an hour.

7)      Hence, Paul said to a ruler “I need patience” (long-suffering) as we talk.

8)      Then Paul used this same basic word when writing to the Corinthians about love.

a)      Members of the Corinthian congregation were not good at being patient one with another.

b)      What did Paul say at the end of 1 Cor. 11:33?

c)      Did he not write, “tarry one for another?”  He did, and there was a reason for this.

d)      Christians were not long-suffering with one another at this congregation.

 

9)      As we look at this word we find another point that is significant.

10)  This word in 1 Cor. 13:4 was not a common term in the first century era; it became more popular later

a)      This is true with more than a few New Testament words and it reveals an important face.

b)      When the New Testament was written, this word was not used because the quality was not commonly practiced.

c)      Generally speaking, people were not patient (long-suffering) with others.

d)      Christianity began to make an impact in the world.  People began to see this quality.

e)      People realized it was a good thing and then this trait spread and the idea became popular.

f)        It was realized that patience was a good thing and people began to practice it.

g)      At times people ask what good Christianity has done for the world.

h)      God has taught the world some things, including this quality that is associated with love.

 

11)  Longsuffering has be defined as “long tempered.”

12)  Normally this word is associated with having patience for others versus things and circumstances.

13)  Long suffering means people work to hol off taking an action (usually a bad action).

14)  One source defines long suffering as holding back on something before it breaks into flames.

a)      This definition sounds like starting a fire.

b)      In some cases all that is needed to start a fire outside is a match.

c)      The wood or kindling is so dry a fire roars to life.

d)      In other cases, due to wet wood, a man may have to practically resort to a flamethrower.

 

15)  If we have the quality of longsuffering and are long tempered, we will be like wet wood.

16)  It will be very, very hard for us to break out in flames.

17)  In today’s world we find plenty of people who are “short-tempered.”

18)  At the drop of a hat there are those who lose their cool and explode.

19)  These people are like walking powder kegs; no one knows when they will detonate.

20)  God said this is not the type of life and example he wants from His people.

21)  God also says those who act in this way are not demonstrating true love.

22)  A little while ago I said the word in 1 Cor. 13:4 is a verb.

a)      Verbs describe action; verbs also help us understand something about time.

b)      Action is usually in the past, in the present, or in the future.

c)      Suffer-long is a present tense verb.

d)      A person may look at their life and the end of the day and say, “I did not blow up today.”

e)      “I was long-tempered this afternoon.”  I had patience with ten very difficult people.

f)        “Because there was success today, I can really unload on people tomorrow.”

g)      According to the Bible, it doesn’t work like that.  God had Paul used a present tense verb.

h)      This tense means we are under this obligation day by day.

i)        Every day we go through life the standard we want to reach for is always being long-tempered.

 

23)  For an example of this we may turn to God.

24)  In addition to being used as a verb, I said long suffering is used as a noun.

25)  In its noun form one passage that stands out is 1 Pet. 3:20.

a)      We probably know what that verse says; God was “longsuffering in the days of Noah.”

b)      During Noah’s time sin abounded; things were so bad the planet was basically wiped clean.

c)      As hateful and as hostile as men were to God, God was long-tempered.

d)      He patiently waited and then waited some more.

e)      Now we are in a different dispensation of time, but God is still longsuffering.

f)        Why does God wait, some ask.  God is long-tempered.

 

26)  We will never be as perfect with longsuffering, but we can bear in mind Peter’s divine example.

27)  Day after day we can look for times when we can be long-suffering.

28)  Another passage to help us is Mt. 18:26 (verses from this chapter will be read).

a)      In the earlier part of Mt. 18 Jesus and Peter had spoken about forgiveness.

b)      Forgiveness and being long-suffering often go hand in hand.

c)      Peter wanted to know how many times to forgive someone and Jesus said, “70 times 7.”

d)      Then the Lord launched into a parable about two servants.

e)      Let’s read verses 23-27 of Mt. 18 – READ.

f)        In verse 26 a servant said to a fellow servant, “have patience.”

g)      This is the exact same term found in 1 Cor. 13:4 – “be long-suffering with me.”

h)     In this case long-suffering would have not paid the debt; this man was unable to ever to pay his bills.

i)        Although this man was hopelessly in debt, his obligations were forgiven.

j)        Then we come to verses  28-30 – READ.

k)      A servant asked for long-suffering and he got it—he received longsuffering plus forgiveness.

l)        Then he went out and found someone who owed him just a tiny amount of money.

m)    This second man knew he owed a miniscule amount and also asked for long-suffering (verse 29).

 

29)  Rather than be long-suffering, the first servant assaulted the second man and threw him into debtor’s prison.

30)  Jesus knew human beings can be very fickle creatures.

31)  We want people to be patient with us.  We want long-suffering if we are the offending party.

a)      Consider these examples:

b)      If we say the wrong thing, it is “be patient with me.  I will say the right thing next time.”

c)      If we fail to do something, we beg for forgiveness and long-suffering.  We will get it right next time.

d)      If we make a wrong choice, we make the same type of plea.

e)      We all want longsuffering from others.  What do we extend to those who come to us?

f)        When someone comes to us and asks for us to be long-suffering, is our reply, “tough luck”?

g)      Is it the attitude, “You had your chance and blew it”?

h)      If so, we are hypocrites.  We can have two standards—one for ourselves and one for others.

 

32)  When we suffer long we control the times when we may feel like boiling over.

33)  This is part of longsuffering.

34)  You may not be surprised to see that longsuffering in its noun form is called a fruit of the spirit in Gal. 5:22.

35)  I checked a source for this study not used in my previous studies and found a great definition.

36)  Long-suffering is an “active process that causes a person to meet his neighbor half-way.”

a)      This term does not mean that we give in to every whim a person has.

b)      Neither does it mean we accept a bad situation forever and ever.

c)      Paul certainly was not willing to let things just continue on and on at Corinth.

d)      He was, however, long-suffering with these Christians.  He met them half-way.

e)      This source I am citing went on to make this point.

f)        “This is not a character trait; it is a way of life.”

 

37)  One might argue that a character trait and a way of life are sometimes the same.

38)  In some cases the two are practically identical.

39)  The definition being used is trying to say long-suffering becomes part of who we are.

40)  It is standard operating procedure in and for our lives.

41)  This is an important quality and it does allow us to meet people half-way.

a)      There will be plenty of times when people do their very best to “push our buttons.”

b)      I do not know where the push my buttons expression came from, but it is a vivid one.

c)      While in Millersburg we had a neighbor who had some problems with another neighbor.

d)      This lady once said to me, “The neighbor next door really knows how to push my buttons.”

e)      A neighbor knew how to irritate and frustrate her.  At times this neighbor lost her cool.

f)        She was not longsuffering and that created some problems for her and others.

g)      Longsuffering is not always the easiest choice.  It is, however, is the best choice.

h)      Long suffering means we work to keep control no matter what the circumstances.

i)        In many cases this word may apply to us when circumstances are not just or fair.

42)  When we know what this word describes, we can see why it is first in Paul’s list.

43)  This quality and the others in this chapter are not just words; they are a call to action.

44)  When God’s people put these qualities into effect, they will shine like the sun.

45)  Each of the descriptions of love provides us with one more key to living the Christian life.

46)  Today we have opened the door to a very special study.

47)  God first wants people to become a Christian and that process is very straightforward – FRCB.

48)  Once we become a child of God, we begin to exercise qualities such as being long-suffering.

49)  At this moment where do we stand in the sight of God?