The opposite of long-suffering is impatience. The opposite of love is hate. There’s no gray area.
Too many people think that there is a “fluffy” area existing somewhere between love and hate. But this area doesn’t exist. It’s one or the other.
And, if you do something opposite of how God’s Word describes love… then what you do is hate. The only other way to describe this is sin.
So, when you act contrary to the way the Bible describes love, you are hating your spouse. You are in disobedience to God. And, you are sinning. Period.
There’s no gray, fluffy part of the equation.
They say opposites attract.
I thought I knew this, and I thought I knew my wife before we got married. But, I had no idea how opposite we were when it came to arriving somewhere on time. I’m the type that if we are supposed to be there by 6:00, I want to arrive at 5:50, if not earlier. On my list, having someone wait for me ranks at the very, VERY bottom! Hand in hand with this – I don’t like waiting for anyone else, either.
God’s working on me big time when it comes to patience.
My wife, on the other hand, really didn’t care if we arrived early, on time or late. It just didn’t matter to her most of the time. To put it lightly, this caused lots of friction between the two of us.
There were a lot of times where I had to learn to lower my expectations. I had to realize that not all events were meetings with the Pope, and didn’t require me making such a big deal out of arriving early. I had to calm down. I had to stop setting myself up to be so upset before there was even a reason to be upset.
I realized that my impatience toward my wife was sin.
I remember one time, we were late for church. I was on the leadership team at church and felt like it was critical that I, and my family, arrived early. I was so upset and determined to get there right away that I was driving 90mph on city streets to get us to church. My wife turned to me and said:
“Honey, you’re so worried about being there on time; but look at what you are doing. You’re going 90 miles per hour! You’re not safe. You’re going to cause somebody to stumble on your way to church.”
I then… ever so unlovingly said to her, “IF YOU WOULD NOT MAKE ME LATE, I WOULDN’T HAVE TO DO THIS! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO GET MOVING? WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU TO GET UP AND BE READY ON TIME?!”
And there was silence for a few moments before she said, “Why don’t you help?”
And, believe it or not, I sincerely didn’t know what she meant.
She wanted me to help dress the kids. They were three and five at the time, so I took it on! And I blew it big time.
The first several weeks, I had the kids in tears, they weren’t wearing matching clothes, everyone was terribly upset… BUT WE WERE ON TIME!
I had to learn to adapt, to make it easier for all of us, to be patient.
Galatians 5:22 tells us,
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
I needed to learn how to bear the fruit of the Spirit… not the fruit of Craig.
So, ask yourself, are you changing, adapting and coming up with solutions in areas of your life where you struggle with impatience? Or have you become rigid and refusing to work it out and change?
Impatience is sin.
We – husbands and wives – need to be operating as one and therefore must be willing to work together to accomplish God’s will in our lives.
1 Corinthians 13 also tells us that love is kind. The opposite of kindness is provoking, getting angry, yelling, judging, ignoring or rejecting one another. Too many times, we act as if we don’t accept each other’s differences… and / or failures.
That’s unkind. That’s sin.
We have to take responsibility for our choices to be kind or unkind toward our spouse.
Romans 12:10 says,
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
To give preference to one another means to esteem other people above yourself. So, in regards to your spouse, you need to regard or esteem your spouse’s thoughts or feelings above your own, without being harsh.
One of the most destructive things that husbands and wives do to one another is behave harshly toward one another. God wants us to think before we speak. We need to seek understanding, not just to be understood. God wants us to use wisdom and self-control with the power of the Holy Spirit before we respond and react to each other.
With jobs, kids, extended families, school, and relationships, there are so many areas of life that we have opportunities to share our thoughts, hopes and opinions. And it can be done well, when it is done correctly in a loving way.