We’ve all probably had the same experience. You are sitting in your car at a stoplight when it is red. The light turns green and you don’t start moving forward at the exact moment and someone starts honking their horn at you. You’ve barely had the chance to react to the light change before someone has already grown impatient and thus, lays on their horn. They want you to get moving so they can get moving and they are not happy to have to wait for a second more. They have run out of patience.
I expect that most of us have become impatient about something at times. We are tired of waiting, even if the wait is really not that long. For whatever the reason, we need things to move along sooner than later and preferably now. We live in an instant society. We want everything now and having to wait for something just seems to go against the grain. W.H Auden, the great American poet, once wrote, “Perhaps there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.” We just have a tough time waiting. We want it all and we want it now.
The 13th chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth is often called the love chapter. We often tend to associate Paul’s words on love with weddings, but in actuality, the words are directed towards the church. Paul is reminding these early Christians of what God’s love looks like in the life of a believer. Hence, in his definition of Christian love Paul writes, “love is patient.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4)
In Christian love, we realize that we are all in the process of becoming who God desires us to be. Yet, we are still a long way away from perfection. We are still sinful creatures, prone to mistakes and failures, and slow to grow sometimes in our faith. As a result, it is easy for us to get frustrated and impatient with one another. How often have we found ourselves saying something like, “he just makes me so mad, she drives me crazy, why doesn’t he do this, what is taking her so long, and the list of questions goes on. We think we know best for individuals, and we become frustrated when they don’t demonstrate it.
However, when we live with patient love, we are willing to walk beside another in this process of becoming what God desires in their lives. We see it in Jesus and his circle of disciples. The 12 he called to follow him as his personal disciples were constantly stumbling over one another, falling behind, failing to listen and understand, and downright hard-headed. Yet, through it all, Jesus demonstrated his love by continuing to help guide them into who God wanted them to be. Rather, than throwing up his hands in frustration and walking away, he stuck with them, through the ups and downs. Jesus knew that you can’t hurry love.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we must practice patient love with one another. We must remember that we are all on this journey together and that none of us have fully arrived. We are still a work in process. In patient love, we continue to encourage one another in our walk of faith while realizing that sometimes we stumble and fall. There are no perfect Christians. That is why love must be patient. We must be patient with one another, just as our Lord is patient with each of us.