Cross and Flame - Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame).

Wheatland United Methodist Church

8000 S. Hampton Road
Dallas, Texas  75232
972.224.3575

Peter McNabb
Wheatland UMC
Dallas, Texas
March 4, 2012

 

Love Is Patient, Love is Kind

I Corinthians 13:4

When you’re filled with love, almost nothing will irritate you.  But when you’re filled with anger, almost anything will irritate you.  Do you want to be filled with love?  Do you want to be so filled with love, that when you bump into someone, pure love almost spills right out of you onto them?   I Corinthians 13 has the answer for you.  And we are continuing to explore it today.

Last week, Shaylee told the children how love is not like a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  Remember that?  Paul spends the first three verses of the love chapter telling us what love is not.  Then, in verse 4, he begins to tell us what love is.   The very first thing he tells us is that love is patient and love is kind.  I think all of us would like to be more patient.  But would you like to be more “long suffering”?  That’s the way the New King James Version of the Bible puts it.  “Long Suffering.”  That’s a tough sell. 

I don’t think we are going to have real patience until we take a closer look at God’s version of patience. He’s a whole lot more patient than we are!  I think I’m being patient when I’m standing in line at the post office and NOT tapping my foot.  Through God’s eyes, patience may take years. The Bible says God is slow to anger and abounding in love.  His time frame is far different than ours.  

Take for instance Jeremiah 29:11.  You may know this Scripture, it is often quoted, “  ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord God Almighty, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”   We Americans read this and say, “Great! Let’s get started God!  Especially the prosperity part.”

But wait!  Look at that verse in context.  Flip back four chapters to Jeremiah 25 and you read about Babylon taking over the Israelis and hauling them off to a distant land.  Jeremiah prophecies there that they will be in captivity 70 years.  And this prophesy comes four chapters BEFORE we get to the hopeful promise of Jeremiah 29:11. Seventy years is a long time!  I have no idea how long 70 years is because I haven’t lived that long!  Gene, fill us in: How long is 70 years?  A long time, right?

Is hope worth waiting for?  Many Americans would say no. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  I want mine and I want it NOW!  

Yet the Bible is counter-culture.  Look at Romans chapter 5 and see the formula for seeing hope in your life. It starts with that word we don’t like to hear “suffering.”  Get this: “suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us.”

You want to be a more patient person?  You better stop dodging suffering like the plague.  Recognize that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope.  And know that hope will not disappoint us.  Be Patient.

Now let’s talk about kindness through God’s eyes.   I tell you, as a Scout leader and now as a pastor, I think of myself as one who has shown a lot of kindness throughout my life.  But if I really examine my life, I can tell that I have received much more kindness than I have given out.  I’m talking about random acts of kindness.  Take for instance my cars breaking down on the side of the road.   I remember the first time I drove to Lubbock by myself to go to Texas Tech.  I was 8 miles west of Aspermont and if you know where Aspermont is, you know I was in the middle of nowhere.  Hot, 104 degrees, August and my water pump blew out.  Hardly anyone around!   This was way before the days of cell phones—not that you could get any coverage out there today anyway!  I had a little water in my car but not enough.  Then an elderly couple came along. They saw I was stranded on the way to Texas Tech and said their son had gone to Tech.  They wanted to help me out.  So they drove the 8 miles to Aspermont, got more water and drove back.  They were so helpful and I was able to make it on down the road.

They gave without asking anything back.  There was no way I could repay them.  That reminds me of the story in our “40 Days of Purpose” book this week about the Good Samaritan.    Now we are going to need 8 volunteers for this:

* Priest
* Levite
* Two bad guys
* The Victim
* The Good Samaritan
* The Innkeeper
* And last but not least, the Donkey

(Act out entire story.  Then rewind.)

Now let’s go slowly over the part where the Good Samaritan comes in. There are four words that come to mind and I want you to write them down.  They all start with the letter “S” for Samaritan.
* The first thing he does is he Sees the Victim.  How often in our busy lives do we actually see people in their needs?   Do we intentionally blot them out. I will be the first to admit.  I was at Austin Street Shelter on Friday.  When I left, I was walking out the front door and passed by 5 or 6 homeless people. I made a beeline straight for my car.  No time to sit around and chit-chat.  So “seeing” is the first “S.”

* The second word is Sympathize.  Jesus says when the Samaritan saw the man his heart was filled with pity or compassion. 

* The third word is Seize the Moment.   Notice the Good Samaritan didn’t walk to the other side.  He didn’t say, I’ll come back in a couple or hours.  He took action right then and there.  He didn’t say I hope someone does something for him. He became the someone.

* Finally, the fourth word with an “S”, and this is the one we have a lot of trouble with is the word is Spend.  Initially, it wasn’t money but time.  He spent time assessing the Victim’s needs and seeing what he could do.  He also spent his materials. The Bible said he used what he had: bandages (where did they come from?  Maybe the Samaritan tore his very clothes into strips to make them.)   What else: wine and oil---they could have been used to cleans the cuts and heal the bruises.  Also: his own donkey.  The Good Samaritan was willing to get off his donkey and put the Victim on the donkey’s back.  This would mean the Good Samaritan would be walking the rest of the way to Jericho. Finally, at the inn the next day, he gives the innkeeper 2 denarii.  Do you realize in today’s money that’s about a couple hundred bucks—maybe more.   Was he going to get paid back? No!  In fact, he told the innkeeper that if the bill runs more, he’d pay him back on the return trip.

So what did the Samaritan do?   He Saw, Sympathized, Seized the Moment, and Spent.  In short, he showed tremendous kindness. 

Go and do likewise!  Not all of us are called to risk our lives by helping someone left for dead on the side of the road.  But all of us are called to show love.  And today’s message is that love is patient and love is kind.

If today’s message has convicted you in some way on the issue of patience and kindness, do not go out feeling like you have let God down.  Remember, God is a God of do-overs.  Second chances, third chances and many more.  There will be opportunities for you this week to show patience and kindness.

So here’s your homework for this week: Love someone with no hope of being paid back.  And pray this prayer, just four words: “Jesus, love through me.”

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