God is love. (1John 4:8) Jesus is God. (John 1:1,Col. 1:15) So when I read the definition of love, 1 Corinthians 13, I am seeing a picture of Christ. According to this passage:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.-ICor.13:1-3
So, without Christ, every good thing I do is worthless.
Anyway, on to verse 4: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." These are characteristics of Christlikeness. Patience, kindness, contentment, humility. These are attributes which I have clearly seen in the attitudes and actions of both Ron & Chris. It is important that these qualities have been modeled to me by these men, because although they are qualities that Jesus would have, I do not have them. It is helpful to see love actually displayed through a person, revealing the possibility of such a thing for me, a glimmer of the glory of God shining through mortal man.
Ron's kindness, Chris' kindness are not the sort where you just smile and think mean thoughts about the other person. Their kindness is genuine. It reaches out and embraces the other person, giving them the benefit of the doubt. It is the willingness to be hospitable, to listen, to give you the shirt off their back, with no expect for return. These men would talk nice about people behind their back, would see precious qualities in others that most would overlook.
Patience is something that is easy to spot. I guess because it's the lack of impatience--which is so common. Ron will spend his time doing what I want, or what the kids want, never fretting over 'his' precious time, not complaining or telling anyone to hurry up or trying to push his agenda. Chris was not one to be in a hurry either. I have one fond memory when I was very young, of him pushing me on a merry-go-round. He was 'laid-back' as they say, so is Ron. Chris loved to spend time with people. One time he actually corrected me because I was being very impatient with my son, Chris, who was taking too long getting ready to go as we were running late.
But patience and kindness are not just mindless qualities bestowed equally on every situation. I have a horrible temper. Over the years Ron has put up with me and my moodiness to his credit. However, his patience and kindness toward me in no way condone my wrongdoings, rather, they make me the more ashamed of my apparent lack of maturity. But he doesn't hold it against me. It brings to mind this verse: "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Rom. 2:4 Here again, Ron showing me a picture of what God's love is like, what Christ is like. And truly, my temperament has gotten a lot better, to the glory of God.
Uncle Chris, too, was extremely patient with me. I know that I disappointed him by not visiting, when it would have been so easy to do so. I can't imagine how I would have felt being there alone as he was. He had asked me to write down some music for him. I tried to once and it was very difficult for me. I just don't know enough to do it right. But at the end of his life he had something he had composed in his mind that he really wanted written down; he asked me to come and try to write it down for him. I never did. So that's how it was between us. I was not good about my half of the relationship. But he was always patient and forgiving, and I see the mistreatment which was hurled at Christ on the cross.
So, I have only skimmed patience and kindness, save the rest for later.