Religious Exploration: Love, Patience and Perseverance
From my colleague Kati Covie, RE Resource Coordinator, Soul Matters Sharing Circle
A Little Greek for Valentine’s Day
Indulge in a reflection I Corinthians, the most famous verse on love in the Bible for Valentine’s Day.
Look up the most famous verse on love in the New Testament. I Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
You have probably heard the expression before: They “have a short fuse”. When that is spoken about someone, it means that it doesn’t take much to get them upset. Say a word, and they get angry. Do something, and they quickly get offended. We say they “have a short fuse.” Well, the Bible tells us in I Corinthians that love is the opposite of that. Love has a “macro thumia”; it has a “long fuse”, if you will! In fact, that wouldn’t be a bad translation of this phrase: “love has a long fuse.” It is not easily angered or upset.
Now we need to remember that in Biblical Greek, this is a verb: “makrothumei.” We have translated it in English as if it were an adjective: “love is patient”, because we don’t really have a verbal form of “patient.” But just remember, in Greek, this is a verb: we might translate it something like, “love long-fuses”. The King James’ “Love suffers long” is actually one of the better translations of this verse.
And it “suffers long” and is “long-fused” towards people. In studying this word this past week, I was struck by how similar this word “patience” is in meaning to “perseverance.” They have some similar qualities. But “patience”, “makrothumia”, is almost always used regarding people, not just circumstances. You can persevere through circumstances, but you are patient with people – because you love them. Love is patient.
So when we get to the root of “being patient”, we see that it involves a commitment of all one’s life/essence, emotions, will, and thoughts. This is the kind of gut-wrenching, life-giving “patience” that God does to all people, and that we must, therefore, show one another. Love, it would seem, does nothing half-heartedly.
May we experience and create that life sustaining, persevering, Love.
Here are some resources for your families on the theme of Perseverance from Katie Covie:
warmly in faith,