Meditation on 1 John 4:8b


For God is love.
1 John 4:8b

8 He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.

I don't think we can repeat this to ourselves often enough. This is the central lesson of the New Testament and the key revelation of our Lord. We do well to internalize this, to live as though we really believe it is true. And if true, if we accept it as revelation AND we understand that God is simple we are led to a single overwhelming conclusion--God is nothing other than love.

Now we have another passage of revelation that allows us to reflect more deeply on that mystery.

And of course I speak of 1 Corinthians 13

3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;
10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I'll return to verse 3 later. For the moment let's consider the other verses.

4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;

What does patience look like? How do we begin to fill in our portrait of God? You may find it difficult to believe, but in the entire Bible the word patient occurs only thirteen times (three times in the Old Testament and ten in the New.) The first occurrence is an incidental mention in the book of Job. However the second bears some mention for the insight it offers.

Psalm 14:17
17 A man of quick temper acts foolishly, but a man of discretion is patient.

We discover that patience is the opposite of quick-tempered and carries with it the further virtue of discretion. Discretion in this sense appears to mean moderate in emotions, even-tempered, perhaps easy-going. Ecclesiastes 7:8 reinforces this view of patience. To it is added that patience is a virtue opposed to pride and therefore allied with humility. (Ecclesiastes 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.)

From James (5:7-8) we learn that patience is the virtue ordered toward endurance and standing solidly against disorder and flightiness. He calls upon us all to

7 Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain.
8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

The one who is patient does not take the crop before its time. Even though the early rains have come and the fruit has set and appears ripe, it is only after the late rain that it comes into its fullness and is ready for harvest. It is worth noting that James sees patience as establishment, steadiness, perserverance in place--calm waiting for the fullness of time, for the ripening of the fruit and the coming of the Kingdom.

From the Book of Revelation we find 4 verses (Rev 1: 9, 2: 2, 2:19, 3:10)which always contain the formula "patient endurance." Patience is the directed to length of days of waiting through times of great trial.

When we look instead to patience, we find a few more verses and learn a great deal about the fruit of being patient.

There are 19 verses. One of these and only 1 is found in the Old Testament.

Psalms 25:15
15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.

With patience, persistence, perserverence, complete dedication to the task a ruler may be persuaded. Patience is, therefore a virtue of tremendous power. By itself it can change the course of events. A dripping spot in the ceiling of a cave may over time develop into a thick, solid column of "living rock. " So patience attains its goal--"a soft tongue will break a bone." Patience makes the miraculous possible.

Luke 8:15 And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.

You bring forth fruit with patience. Patience, waiting through time, is all that gives life to the fruit. Time fills it to ripeness. Patience is rewarded in ways that nothing else is.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 2, 2005 8:40 PM.

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