4Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

Sometimes it can be so difficult to be patient! Sometimes it can be so difficult to be kind! And sometimes it can be so difficult not to be rude! But love is all those things. And much more. Love is a sacrifice of our own wants and desires to the needs, wants and desires of the ones we love. It’s being patient when we feel impatient. It’s being kind when we want to be rude.

I recently learned of a study by a University of Washington psychologist, John Gottman. His findings allow him to successfully predict whether or not a couple will divorce within 15 years! 95% of the time his predictions are correct! That’s pretty amazing.

He found that the single greatest predictor pointing to divorce is one of the partners in a marriage holding the other in contempt. In a Christianity Today article, author Carolyn Arends discusses Gottman’s study and defines contempt like this:

Contempt is a mixture of anger and disgust, expressed from a position of superiority. It denigrates, devalues, and dismisses. It’s not hard to understand why even subtle levels of contempt are damaging—not only in marriages but in all human interaction.
Carolyn Arends in article titled The Trouble with Cussing Christians

Contempt is “often shown through body language: tone of voice, facial expressions, and body movement. Just a roll of the eyes can signal that someone considers themselves above you.” (Randi Kreger reporting on Gottman’s study in her blog Stop Walking on Eggshells)

I see a lot of impatience, unkindness and rudeness in contempt. I see irritability that has gone beyond simple annoyance or frustration, working its way toward contempt – toward assigning blame for some (or every) current situation on the person’s inability to act responsibly (however the accuser defines responsible).

At the crux of impatience is the attitude that your time is more important than the other person’s time, or your way of doing something is better than the other person’s way of doing something. According to Gottman, it’s that hierarchical attitude that makes contempt so harmful. It’s that attitude by one of the partners that they are superior to their spouse.

The Apostle Paul wrote that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought (Romans 12:3). And Jesus said this:

21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV)

The word “raca” was an Aramaic term of contempt. It is derived from a word meaning “to spit.” Jesus reminded the crowd that those who use the term were subject to the judgment of the Sanhedrin (the local Jewish religious council). Then he took it a step further. He said that saying “you fool!” – which is clearly showing contempt toward someone – puts one in danger of the fire of hell.

Love is patient and kind. It is not rude. Growing in love means choosing – choosing – to be more patient, more kind, and less rude. It means stopping ourselves when we’re tempted to roll our eyes or say “whatever” in that dismissive tone of derision. (That, by the way – using the word “whatever” dismissively or derisively – is something I’m currently working to remove from my personal dictionary of expressions. I don’t always get it right, but I’m working on it.)

Love is patient and kind. And love is important.

1If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing… 13Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13 (NLT)

If you want to live a life full of things that last forever – a legacy that will go long beyond your years – live a life of love.

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