Love is ...
If you ask anyone this question, what is love? Apart from the romantic side of the answers, I think most people would probably come up with things like "be nice, affectionate, to give...etc." which will generally belong to the "kind" category.
But the definition of the Bible about love is " Love is patient, love is kind..." Not the other way around. Obviously being patient comes first and more important than being kind. I haven't thought about this before until this week.
Last weekend at Sunday service in our church, our pastors were asking if anyone would like some personal prophecies for the year 2004. So I went forward. Apart from other words concerning our new house, business, family salvation,etc, there's this word,"your patience limit will be stretched." This particular word didn't sound very pleasant to my ears and I was tending to forget about it straight away. But only a week into this new year I was reminded of that word in quite a few different ways: so many things went wrong, and I had a major challenge the second day after that word. I didn't think I could handle it, and I just felt like blowing up all day long. I really couldn't see any way out by myself, but amazingly, someone came up with unexpected grace and favor, and helped me sort the situation out. Then straight after that, we're faced with another major crisis. The Lord really knows what He's talking about last Sunday!
Without challenge, our love is only from ourselves. They're very limited and very conditional. But throughout all the challenges, we'll experience God's favor, His grace and His faithfulness, and we'll learn and experience His love and we'll grow in love as well. Only when we're stretched in our love can we have the ability to demonstrate kindness that's beyond our own level and then we can be a blessing to other people.
Another version of translation of "patient" is "long suffering". This as the first requirement of love really makes me wonder where love comes from. It also reminds me of Job in the Bible, whom was challenged severely in every possible ways. But in the end he was rewarded double blessing. So maybe this is the process: we suffer, we endure, then we run out of ourselves, and the Lord comes in and fill in our empty tank, then we have more than ourselves, and we are able to truly give, ... and then we can be kind. Maybe this is why patient comes before kind?
Interestingly while I'm writing this right now, there's a TV show about what's love. It says that the dictionary explanation about love is "a strong desire, passion...." It all comes down to " I want, give me..."even in relationships. But "Love is patient" actually means "I'll put up with all the trouble that you give me, all the disappointment that I expected you to give me" in relationships, right? How much love we have really means how much trouble we're willing to handle.
Well, this is only the first week of my thoughts along this way, I'm sure there's more to come later in the year.