“Love is patient.” So declares Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4, a passage that serves as God’s defining statement about love. True love is patient, but what does patient love look like? I think it includes two ideas, both of which are more difficult than what we are accustomed to living out naturally.
First, true love waits with people. That is, we love people by staying by their side during times of unrest and uncertainty. Love compels us to wait for dreams to come true for those close to us, to sit by the bedside of our sick loved ones, and to endure painful circumstances alongside those who would otherwise face them alone.
And second, true love waits for people. Rather than forcing change upon a person by pressure or coercion, real love allows people time to grow and to mature. This is far more difficult. This is the kind of patience that makes room for differences and annoyances and pet peeves. Real love also respects the boundaries God has put in place for healthy, timely growth. To be more blunt, real love never, ever pressures someone for more intimacy – especially physical and sexual intimacy – than what is appropriate.
Love patiently waits for and with people. God proves this every second He waits on the final establishment of His own Kingdom. Each moment of this earthly interim is an extension of God’s loving, gracious invitation to come to life in Jesus for one more nonbeliever.