We have been looking at 1 Corinthians 13, the Bible’s famous chapter on Love and what author Henry Drummond had to say about it in his essay, The Greatest Thing in the World. We have studied one virtue per month that when taken together form Love, i.e., The Greatest Thing in the World.
But as we read about these virtues, we admire them and would welcome them into our lives on a daily basis, but we also wonder how we do that? How can we get patience, kindness, generosity and humility, to name just a few, into our everyday persona? How do we learn to Love? The answer is the same answer to the question asked of a taxi driver in New York City. When a tourist asked, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” the driver sarcastically replied, “Practice, practice, practice.””
Drummond speaks to that taxi driver’s snarky (but accurate) response when he says:
“The world is not a playground; it is a school-room. Life is not a holiday; but and education. And one eternal lesson for us all is how better can we love. What makes a man a good (musician, sculptor, artist or athlete)…practice. Love is not a thing of enthusiastic emotion. It is a rich, strong, manly, vigorous expression of the whole round Christian character.”
Christian character is crafted out of ever-changing circumstances. Sometimes the times are wonderful and happy; other times it is a trial and temptation. We should give thanks to God for both occasions. The good times are a classroom to practice humility. When we are flush with money, generosity should flourish in our hearts. But it is the tough times and painful experiences that mold our characters the most. Someone once said, “Pain is the Mother of Compassion.” That person was insightful.
We cannot isolate ourselves when times are good nor shrink away and curse our God when times are tough. When times are calm, we have the luxury of focusing on what pleases us. But it is the storms of life that build character. The German poet Goethe said as much when he wrote: “Talent develops itself in solitude; character in the stream of life.”
Do you want to be patient, kind, humble and generous? Then make a point to practice these virtues everyday, in some situation, for someone. You will be surprised as how fast these virtues take root in your souls.
15 Feb 2016
As we unpack what Henry Drummond wrote in his essay on Love entitled; The Greatest Thing in the World, we begin with Patience. Other words that describe Patience are: long-suffering, perseverance, tolerance and persistence. It is probably fair to assume that Patience is the least popular of all the virtues Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 13, the treatise on Love.
It is unpopular because it flies into the face of our action-oriented society and lifestyles today. We want to make things happen, take the bull by the horns and see results. And yet Paul places Patience at the forefront of his list of Love’s virtues. Maybe because it is the most disliked and the most difficult and the most powerful when successfully mastered into our lives.
According to Drummond, Patience is Love, passive. No outward actions are required to demonstrate its power. Yet powerful it is. It is not difficult to answer the bell in a crisis, when people are watching. But it takes a special, Love-driven virtue called Patience to hold steady, persevere to the end when the crowds are gone, the results are meager and the cause is just. Love-driven Patience can be a mother’s faithful prayers for a wayward son or daughter or a husband patiently watching over his ailing wife praying faithfully for healing…Love passive.
To begin to successfully inculcate Patience into our characters we must first recognize how patient God is with us. Many of us love to gloss over our own flaws and deny they exist to the extent that they obviously do (ask your spouses). When we are a bit honest with ourselves we recognize how patient God is with us and our character deflects. This appreciation gives a dose of humility that spreads to the benefit of others around us. For as we are aware of our own shortcomings, we then can look at our cantankerous neighbors, belligerent bosses and others who are annoying, arrogant and hard to deal with in a new light.
And, we must acknowledge the sovereignty of our Lord over our lives. His plans are perfect, His timing sure…but it will be His timing. Sometimes our impatience is an outgrowth of our anxiety over current events in our lives. That fretfulness being a direct by-product of a heart that fears that “God won’t get it right.” Patience is a firm, steadfast belief that God will get it right, in His timing and through His patient love for us. Clothe yourself in passive Love this month…Patience.