If you were asked, “What is love?” How would you answer?

Most people define love by expressions of care or generosity, which are essential to love. Or worse, we define love by having desire or emotion.

Very few of us would define love as the Apostle Paul did, beginning by saying: “Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Why does Paul focus on patience? For many of us, patience is very difficult! You know the joke, “Never pray for patience!”

Love is Unhurried

Love is patient. Let’s try putting that in some other wording to help us understand what Paul is saying and why he begins there: “Love endures and suffers long; it is not easily irritated or impulsive. Love moves slow – it is never in a hurry and it is always willing to wait. Love makes time to notice and appreciate other people.”

I think Paul begins defining love by focusing on patience because all the other attributes of love depend on patience. If we’re in a hurry our ability to love is compromised. Any expression of love that you can think of – listening, doing a kindness, offering a compliment, giving a gift, or praying for someone – requires patience.

Setting aside time is what enables us to pay attention to others and what they need and then to respond to them with kindness. Moving at a relaxed pace – not trying to do too much, too fast – gives our soul the space it needs to love.

Love Begins with God

But when you read the attributes of love in 1 Corinthians 13 never start by putting your name in! Many preachers will tell you to do that. It’s harmful theology. God is love. God is patient. Don’t pressure yourself to be more loving as that just generates self-effort and pride or guilt.

Stop trying so hard! Slow down and look to God in your midst. Rely on God’s patient love for you and then you can let it flow through you to others. By connecting with the God who is Love you receive his blessing and power to be compassionate, kind, and generous toward others.

That’s the Love your soul longs to be a part of!

Soul Shepherding ministers God’s love to pastors, missionaries, ministry leaders, and anyone who longs for God so that they can share God’s love with others. Read what pastors say about the effect of Soul Shepherding for them and their ministries.

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