The meaning of long-suffering in I Corinthians 13:4 is that love is “long-tempered” or “long of mind or soul”. The Vines Expository Dictionary of the NT defines it as follows:
“to be patient, longsuffering, to bear with,” lit., “to be long-tempered,” is rendered by the verb “to be longsuffering” in Luk 18:7; in 1Th 5:14; so in Jam 5:7, 8; in 2Pe 3:9, “is longsuffering.”
Note: “Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy, and is used of God, Exd 34:6; Rom 2:4; 1Pe 3:20. Patience is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial; it is the opposite of despondency and is associated with hope, 1Th 1:3; it is not used of God.” * [* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 183, 184.]
It is interesting that in the Old Testament it is a Hebrew idiom for “long of nose” or breathing (Exodus 36:6). Angry people tend to breathe short, heavy breaths where as patient people take long slow breaths, hence, “long in nose”. Isn’t that so true.
How can we be “long of nose” towards those we are married to?
I asked my husband the other night how he puts up with the things that I do that irritate him. Being hesitant to answer, thinking it was a trap, he simply said he chooses not to dwell on it. 🙂
I remember one particular instance when I used our car to pick up 10 bags of red mulch. I could have waited on him to use the truck, but I was anxious to get to work and decided to jump right in. Now you have to understand how he values keeping our vehicles clean. It matters a great deal to him.
I didn’t think anything about this being a messy job. I just went inside, paid for some mulch, drove up to the gate, and asked the attendant to throw them in the back. He looked at me like, are you sure? I popped the door, signaling the all clear. Unbeknownst to me the mulch bags had some moisture from sitting outside, and red coloring seeped all over the carpet in the floor of the hatchback as I drove home. When I unloaded them and noticed the mess, I knew Jason would not be happy. My attempts to soak it up with towels was unsuccessful.
When he arrived home, I explained what had happened and asked how to best clean it up, planning to scrub all night long. But, after he took a long, deep breath, he said he would take care of it for me and not to worry. The carpet shampooer would take it out. Then he asked me to use the truck for such things. (To which I gladly do now!)
That is a prime example of being “long of nose”. 🙂 It’s actually the opposite of how our English translations view being long of nose…like Pinocchio caught in a lie. It is a beautiful attribute of God, and my husband has learned to cultivate it, live it, and freely gift it to me.
Learning to be Long-Suffering
My husband hasn’t always been so patient, and he would be the first to agree. But, as he walks with Jesus, he has learned to be long-suffering. He has grown to love me even when I am not so lovable.
His advice? Don’t dwell on it. He said that getting older helps as you forget things more easily as well. lol But, his advice to keep short accounts and to allow for mistakes is wise. He has learned to restrain his immediate impulse to express his anger and frustration. Jason chooses to hope for a good relationship and sees beyond ‘the mulch’ to who I am as his wife and child of God.
What a gift of grace. That is the mercy of God manifesting itself in human form. Being loved when we don’t deserve it brings greater intimacy and growth in relationships between God and others.
So, this week, consider being “long of nose”. Consider being patient in all circumstances for the purpose of glorifying God and loving your spouse like God loves us. Do they always deserve it? No. Do we always deserve it? No.
But isn’t it the sweetest when mercy and patience is given to us? A million times, yes!
Applying Truth to our Marriages
To help encourage stronger marriages, I have created a free, three-page marriage study and checklist based off of I Corinthians 13:4-7. If you would like to receive it, simply scroll down to the bottom of this page, enter your name and email, and I will send the link to you! Let me know if it is helpful to you in any way.
God wants us to be committed and faithful to our spouses and this is a great way to start a challenging but healthy conversation.