“We must learn to preserve a tender heart of patient kindness, seeing others as Christ sees them.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 19, 2022
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. 1 Corinthians 13:4, NKJV
Pairings in Scripture are important, especially when it comes to virtue. St. Paul in the famous “love passage” of 1 Corinthians 13 intentionally links two virtues that often struggle to stay together: patience and kindness. It is easy to be kind when your patience is never tested, yet genuine kindness and respect when looking into the face of someone who has been a source of great frustration or testing? That is a gift of the Holy Spirit!
Though “patient” is perhaps the more common, everyday phrase, I love the way the NKJV translates this word: longsuffering. This slightly more archaic English word reveals a deep truth about patience, noting the close relationship between patience and pain. Simply put, it’s hard to wait, and even harder to endure. Longsuffering speaks to a state of being, an extended season of trial in which dreams are unfulfilled and relationships continue to be pushed and pulled. As much as we would like it to be otherwise, there is no easy solution or end in sight. It is a call to love in the place you find yourself, even if that place can be a wearying and worrisome way.
In these seasons, one may endure, yet let everyone and anyone know just how painful it is to walk this road. Our relationships turn bitter, we hold grudges, and we allow passive-aggressive comments to slip into our everyday vocabulary. This is longsuffering with an emphasis on suffering! Kindness, sadly, is often nowhere to be seen!
Patience in the face of long and difficult seasons is indeed a virtue. Yet we must also daily pray for the gift of kindness and tenderness toward others in the midst of these seasons, especially toward those who for you may be a source of trial. Most often, these weighty and testing seasons are tied to those that are nearest to us: a parent, sibling, spouse, or close friend. Paul’s words ring true today, for in these moments of longsuffering, we must learn to preserve a tender heart of compassion, seeing them as Christ sees them and worthy of kindness and respect.
Difficult though it may undoubtedly be, this is the way of love, patient and kind, just as our Lord Jesus is in every way patient and kind in his love for us.
Father, give us the gift of patience and kindness, journeying through seasons of trial with a heart of love for others and tender kindness in all situations, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Consider ways you may be kind yet not patient, or patient yet lacking in kindness.
Sandra McCracken: Almighty God
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