“Daddy, what is it like to be in love?” She has not asked me yet, but I know that day is coming. It will probably after meeting some idiot (did I really write that?) who wants to ask her on a date. I confess that I do not like him already.
One day my daughter will ask, and I will have to answer. But how will I answer? Will I give her a sentimental answer? You know the kind of stuff Disney sells. Will I evade the question by saying, “You will just know when you know?” Will I give her the hyper spiritual answer, “Just pray and God will make it clear. Might I suggest a fleece?”
Or will I give her a solid biblical answer? And if I do, where will I turn. I hope that I, like many of you, would at least give her 1 Cor. 13. Here the Bible list a number of power descriptions of love. Perhaps “descriptions” is the wrong word. Instead it is better to say a list of actions, because all of the descriptions listed are listed as verbs, which means they are lists of what love does and does not do.
So when she asks the question, I might say, “Well, the first thing you need to know is that love is patient.” That is where Paul starts (1 Cor. 13:4). But as I look at the word sitting there on the screen, I gulp. I am, after all, notoriously impatient. Just put my in a traffic jam and see. Spend some time with me when a person has the unmitigated gall to take 22 items through a line that says 20 ITEMS OR LESS.
Nevertheless Paul starts there. The word patient carries the idea of patience and forbearance. It points to that aspect of love that endures graciously when wronged. In this way, patience is a remarkable reflection of Christ who is always patient with us.
If you think about it, impatience is a sign of pride. I am impatient with traffic, because I have an agenda. I am impatient in line, because I want to be first. I am impatient when life is about me, but when love comes, my focus changes. When life is not about me, I am able to endure, to suffer- long, to be patient.
Following closely beside patience is kindness. Whereas patience is a more passive quality (it endures), kindness is more active. Kindness is a readiness to do good and relieve burdens. Kindness spreads grace by being tender and ready to serve. One wag describes kindness as “love in work clothes.”
Sometimes when we talk about love, we are tempted to do little more than talk about love. A biblical definition of love, however, will not stop short of action, of spreading grace, of being kind. Small acts of kindness impact lives in big ways. It is the thoughtful card, the caring call, and the readiness to help that God often uses to expresses his love through us.
If we are to be loving, we should always be humble (and thus patient) and kind. It seems that I have heard this somewhere recently. Maybe this will be way a treat the . . um. . guy . . . who will want to ask her out.