Charity Suffereth Long

Posted by on Dec 4, 2011

Charity Suffereth Long

“Charity Suffereth Long”

MP3 Version: “Charity Suffereth Long
Scripture Text: 1 Corinthians 13:4

By Pastor Mike Withem
First Baptist Church
Ranson, West Virginia


A. Three weeks ago I preached a message entitled, “Husbands, Love Your Wives.”
1. The Bible says in Eph. 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”
2. Husbands, however, are not the only ones who are given this command.
3. Wives are also commanded to love their husbands.
4. Notice what Paul admonished the “aged women” (older women) in the church to do, Tit. 2:4, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,”
5. Not only are wives to love their husbands, if they are also mothers, they should love their children as well.
6. And so, both husbands AND wives are commanded to exhibit love, love for each other and for the children.

B. Now this raises a question, “If husbands are to love their wives and wives are to love their husbands, and parents are to love their children, WHAT exactly does this mean?”
1. In other words, what does it mean to love someone?
2. Well, before we begin to answer that question, I want to clear up two misconceptions about love.
3. The first misconception is that love is a FEELING.
4. (Illus.- A teenage girl was asked the question, “What is love?” to which she replied, “It’s when you get a knot in your stomach, your heart begins to race, and you get a warm tingling feeling all over your body!”)
5. While it’s true that sometimes love does involve our emotions, we must remember that they are two very different things.
6. The second misconception about love that I would to clear up is that love is UNCONTROLLABLE.
7. You often hear people talk about “falling in love” or “falling out of love” as though they had no control over it whatsoever.
8. This misconception, of course, is directly related to the first misconception.
9. (Illus.- For example, many husbands and wives have tried to justify the fact that they no longer loved their spouses by saying, “I can’t help how I feel!”)

C. Listen, let me tell you the TRUTH about love.
1. First of all, love is not a feeling, but rather a manner of CONDUCT.
2. This is why the Bible says in 1 John 3:18, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
3. Love is not FEELING, but rather DOING!
4. Not only is love a manner of conduct, it also a matter of CHOICE.
5. This is why the Bible commands us in Col. 3:14, “And above all these things put on charity,”

D. Now back to our original question, “What does it mean to love someone?”
1. Paul answers this question in great detail in our text, this morning.
2. Notice, first of all, that to love someone means to be…

I. Patient.

A. Notice again the first part of Vrs. 4 of our text, “Charity suffereth long,”
1. The word “charity” means “love.”
2. It is translated from the Greek word “agape,” which not only means love, but a very SPECIAL kind of love, the kind of love that GOD has for us!
3. Now what did Paul say?
4. He said, “Charity suffereth long.”
5. In other words, love is…
-long-spirited or longsuffering,
-willing to patiently endure the flaws and imperfections of our spouses, without becoming angry.

B. Fellows, let me tell you something about your wives that you probably already know, and, ladies, let me tell you something about your husbands that you probably already know – they are NOT perfect (have many flaws)!
1. And by the way, they had these flaws LONG before you married them.
2. (Illus.- I was counseling with a couple once, and the wife was coming down really hard on her husband for his many personality flaws. During the course of our conversation the wife said this, “I don’t understand, he wasn’t like this when I married him!” to which I replied, “Sister, he was like this long BEFORE you married him. You were just so ‘love-struck’ that you didn’t see it.)
3. But the point is, we ALL have our flaws; whether we are husbands, wives, or children, we all have our flaws!

C. This is why patience is so important, when it comes to the MARRIAGE relationship.
1. Listen, if we are not willing to patiently endure our spouses’ flaws and imperfections without becoming angry, then we are going to be angry ALL the time.
2. And let’s face it, this describes a LOT of marriages today; constant anger, constant arguing, constant turmoil, all because of an unwillingness on the part of the husband, or the wife, or both, to accept the fact that the person whom they married is NOT perfect.

D. Now let me pause here and say that this does not mean we shouldn’t work on IMPROVING ourselves.
1. (Illus.- For example, one of the things that wives complain about the most and that causes friction in a lot of marriages are husbands who refuse to PICK UP after themselves. Now husbands, you could argue, “If my wife really loves me, then she will be willing to accept this minor flaw without becoming angry with me.” That’s true, but there’s another side to this coin. If you really love your wife, then you will work on improving yourself by striving to do a better job of picking up after yourself. In fact, you will make it a lot EASIER for your wife to put up with your many flaws and imperfections if you will demonstrate to her that you are trying to improve yourself. You see, it works BOTH ways!)
2. The same thing is true when it comes to you wives.
3. If you will demonstrate to your husbands that you trying to improve yourselves, you will make it a lot easier for them to put up with your many flaws and imperfections.

E. And there is something else that I want to make clear.
1. When we talk about flaws and imperfections, we are talking about PERSONALITY flaws and imperfections, not MORAL failures.
2. (Illus.- For example, wives, if your husband is getting drunk and abusing you physically, that is NOT something God expects you to endure, under any circumstance. That is not a personality flaw, but rather a very serious moral failure on his part, and should not be tolerated.)
3. (Illus.- Another example, husbands, if your wife has violated her marriage vows and is having a sexual affair, that is NOT something that God expects you to endure, under any circumstance. That is not a personality flaw on her part, but rather a very serious moral failure, and should not be tolerated.)
4. You might remember that in the first part of 1 Cor. 5, the apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian believers for tolerating a very serious moral failure within the church family, and then instructed them on how to deal with it.

F. And so, to love someone means to be patient with them.
1. It also means to be kind to them.
2. Notice again Vrs. 4 our text, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind;”
3. To be kind is translated from a Greek word that literally means “to act in a BENEVOLENT manner.”
4. In other words, it means to be…
5. Kindness is most definitely RELATED to patience.
6. You see, when we become impatient with our spouses, we tend to be just the opposite of kind, don’t we? We tend to be…
7. Paul wrote in Col. 3:12, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”

G. And so, to love someone means to be patient and kind.

H. It also means to…

II. Satisfied.

A. Notice again Vrs. 4 of our text, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not;”
1. What does it mean to “be envious?”
2. One definition of “being envious” is WISHING you had something that someone else has.
3. (Illus.- For example, if you are envious of your neighbor, you wish you had something that he has. It could be his job, or it could be his house, or it could be his car, or it could even be his WIFE.)
4. By the way, envy and covetousness are very SIMILAR.
5. Do you remember the Tenth Commandment?
6. The Tenth Commandment goes like this, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” (Exo. 20:17)
7. Of course, the opposite of “being envious” or “coveting” is being happy, or being content, or being satisfied with what you have.

B. Now, with that in mind, what does it mean to “not be envious,” as far as your relationship with your wife or your husband is concerned?
1. It simply means to be happy, to be content, to be satisfied with them (in other words, to not want someone else).
2. (Illus.- Listen, one of the principle causes of the unhappiness that exists in so many marriages today is a DISSATISFACTION on the part of the husband, or the wife, or perhaps even both. Oftentimes, they already have their jealous eyes fixed on someone else, most likely someone else’s wife or someone else’s husband. This, of course, more times than not, leads to infidelity, which almost always leads to divorce.)
3. Let me tell you something, guys, your neighbor’s wife may look like the perfect woman, but I assure you that she is not (just like your wife, she has her flaws as well).
4. And, ladies, your neighbor’s husband may look like the perfect man, but I assure you that he is not (just like your husband, he has his flaws as well).
5. Listen, rather than wishing that you had someone else’s wife or someone else’s husband, thank God for the woman or the man whom God gave to you, and be satisfied with them.

C. Solomon wrote in Prov. 5:15,18, “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well…Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.”

1. He put it like this in Ecc. 9:9, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity,… for that is thy portion in this life,”
2. In other words, enjoy the wife or the husband whom God gave to you.
3. Listen, life is too short to spend even a small part of it wishing you were married to someone else.
4. I know, the grass sometimes looks greener on the other side of the fence, but I promise you, it is NOT.

D. And so, to love someone means to not be envious (not want someone else), but to be satisfied with the man or the woman whom God gave to you.

E. May I say, finally, this morning, to love someone means to be…

III. Humble.

A. Let’s look one more time at Vrs. 4 of our text, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,”
1. He said, “…charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”
2. Now WHAT does that mean?
3. The word “vaunteth” means “to brag or BOAST.”
4. The phrase “puffed up” means “to have an INFLATED opinion of oneself.”
5. And so, what Paul is saying here is that love is not boastful or prideful.

B. How does pride hurt a marriage?
1. Pride prevents us from saying three words that are so important in a healthy marriage, the words, “I am sorry.”
2. Let’s face it, even in the healthiest of marriages, there are going to OFFENSES, times when we wrong or hurt our spouses.
3. It may not be a major offense, but it is an offense none the less.
4. Now wronging our spouses is bad enough in and of itself, however, when we are too proud to admit what we have done and sincerely ask for their forgiveness, we make the situation far worse (it’s like we are hurting them all over again).

C. Listen, when we wrong our spouse, we need to respond with the same attitude that David displayed when he got his heart right with God.
1. Notice his words, recorded in Psa. 51:3-4, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:”
2. And you need to display this attitude toward your spouse as well as God.
3. (Illus.- A husband told me once that if he asked God to forgive him, he didn’t see any need to ask for his wife’s forgiveness. I asked him, “Brother, did you wrong your wife, as well as God?” He said, “Well, yes.” I said, “Then you need to ask for her forgiveness as well.”)
4. Do you remember what Jesus said in Matt. 5:23-24, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
5. We could paraphrase it like this, “If you come to worship God, and then remember that your spouse has a legitimate grievance against you, go and make things right with them first (seek their forgiveness), then come and offer your worship to God.”

D. Now, there is another side to this coin.
1. If you are the one who is wronged and your spouse humbly seeks your forgiveness, then you should be willing to forgive them.
2. Sometimes, especially when we have been hurt badly, we hesitate to let go of the offense and to forgive, even when there is genuine sorry on the part of our spouse. (I guess it is our way of getting even with them!)
3. While Paul does not deal with this in our text, he does so elsewhere, for example, in Eph. 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”


A. What does it mean to love someone, especially our spouse?
1. It means to be PATIENT with them (willing to endure their many personality flaws and imperfections without become angry and punishing them).
2. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind;”
3. It means to be SATISFIED with them (not wish you were married to someone else’s spouse).
4. “…charity envieth not;”
5. It means to be HUMBLE toward them (admit it when you are wrong and seek their forgiveness).
6. “…charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,”

B. How about it fellows?
1. How about it wives?
2. Are you patient with your spouses?
3. Are you satisfied with your spouses?
4. Are you humble toward your spouses?