Long-Tempered Love

When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.

–Titus 3:4-5

How do I know if I am truly loving other people as God commanded me? Commentators note that in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, when Paul listed all these characteristics of love, he did not use adjectives. In the Greek text, these characteristics are verbs. Love is not static; love is something you do. It is active, not passive.

First of all, Paul said, “Love is patient” (v. 4). That word translated as “patient” is “makrothumia,” which means “long-tempered.” We think if we sit at a red light for a couple of minutes without blowing our stack, that is patience. But of the ten times this word “patience” is used in the Greek New Testament, nine of those times it refers to people, not circumstances. Patience is not so much about dealing with trying circumstances as dealing with trying people. Do you have any trying people in your life right now? We all have those people who just irritate us. How we deal with those people determines whether we are truly loving. True love is patient. Or we might say true love is long-fused. When somebody has a short fuse, it does not take much to set them off. But genuine love is long-tempered.

Of course, God demonstrates patience toward us. If God gave us what we deserved, none of us would be alive right now. The fact that we are walking around is a demonstration of God’s patience. In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter explained why the Lord has not returned yet. He said, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Aren’t you glad God does not have a short fuse? The Bible says if we are His followers, we will exhibit that same patience toward other people.

Second, “love is kind” (v.4). It is one thing to endure mistreatment from others, but kindness goes one step further: it does something good for those who wrong us. It means to do something practical, to give people what they need rather than what they deserve. Titus 3:4-6 describes what kindness is: “When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

The kindness of God meant that He gave us not what we deserved but what we needed. We needed a Savior, so God sent a Savior. It was a great self-sacrifice for Him, but He was filled with kindness toward us, wanting to do something useful for us. Love is kind.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “What the Church Needs Now” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

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