Grounded Podcast

Love Is Patient, with Bob Lepine

How do you define love? In what is sometimes known as the “love” passage, Paul gave a picture of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Bob Lepine joins us to examine one particular quality of the biblical definition of love: Love is patient. Whether in your marriage or relationships with others, how can you show love through patience? Gain an understanding of real, enduring love, even in difficult times.

Connect with Bob:

Instagram: @blepine

Twitter: @FLTBob

Episode Notes:

“3 Steps Closer to Patient Parenting” article

“Lay Aside the Weight of Irritability” article

Love Like You Mean It by Bob Lepine

If you would like to support Grounded and the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, you can donate at: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/donate/grounded/

Dannah Gresh: Welcome back to Grounded, friends. I'm Dannah Gresh.

Erin Davis: And I'm Erin Davis. Grounded as a videocast and now a podcast from Revive Our Hearts, and we've got a mission to give you an infusion of hope and perspective.

Dannah: Yep, and Erin, it's officially February.

Erin: It is.

Dannah: And I got a weather report from my llama, Nessie, who's out in the field right now. She would like you to know that we are officially up to six inches in Central Pennsylvania.

Erin: Nessie is my kind of weather girl. I love that.

Dannah: It is. The whole country . . . did you just see the comments from one of the Grounded viewers?

Erin: Yeah, people are snowed in.

Dannah: They're saying they're snowed in. That's me too. I'm going nowhere today.

Erin: No snow here where I live. A flurry or two, but I gotta tell you, by this day on my calendar every year, February 1, I'm over winter. I like winter for three weeks, and then by this point, I'm ready for some sunshine.

Dannah: Yeah. Bob Gresh says that he wants to stay or winter through the Super Bowl. All things revolve around the Super Bowl.

Erin: Yeah, yeah, I get it.

Dannah: Super Bowl is like Christmas in his heart, and then after the Super Bowl it’s all sunshine. 

Erin: I'm with him. 

Dannah: But here's the thing . . . I don't want to skip Valentine's Day.

Erin: Yeah, that’s true.

Dannah: I love seeing the shelves filling up right now. The cards make me feel so nostalgic. The teddy bears and conversation hearts. Can we talk about conversation hearts for just a moment? 

Erin: You love them?

Dannah: I love them. I love the banana ones. I pick out the banana ones. 

Erin: You’re the one.

Dannah: Did you know last year there was a tragic shortage? I could not get myself a box of conversation hearts.

Erin: I remember that.

Dannah: I'm glad they're back. I think that it's official; we can say it, “Love is in the air.”

Erin: Love is in the air. I love it when love’s in the air because love smells like chocolate. So, we're gonna be talking about love—all month long here on Grounded. I always say February is the longest shortest month of the calendar. It's a short number of days, but it feels long. So I am eager to spend it talking about love. So, Dannah, here we go. How would you define love?

Dannah: Define love? Well, my honest first thought is that my definition has changed a lot since my wedding day . . . and so has my hair, quite honestly. It’s changed a lot since my wedding day.

Erin: Oh, I love that picture. 

Dannah: What? Thank you, because usually when I show it people make fun of it. They're like the 90s “want your shoulder pads back, Dannah?”

Erin: No, I think it's stunning.

Dannah: I gotta tell you my definition when I was that girl. I had this thought in my mind that love meant all peace, all romance, no conflict. 

And Bob and Dannah turned out to be a high conflict couple. Uh oh, I just didn't really realize that conflict was part of the connection and that love would demand that I invested a lot of time and learning how to fight fair. So, I guess . . .

Erin: Put that on a conversation heart.

Dannah: Yeah, there you go. Does it fit? 

What about you, Erin? What's love mean to you? 

Erin: Well, I think the area that God has most matured my definition of love like you God is in my parenting. So, here's a photo for a photo. This is my first Mother's Day as a mama with my first boy, Eli. It looks like a baby holding a baby. I was so young.

Dannah: Oh, that’s a sweet picture.

Erin: I love that picture, that little squish, who turns thirteen in February, by the way. I did not know that I could love someone as much as I love my children and struggle to act lovingly toward them every day.

Dannah: Oh, what a sentence that is. Love them and struggle to act lovingly. I feel your pain.

Erin: Yikes. 

Dannah: Oh, well. I'm happy to tell you that FamilyLife Today's Bob Lepine is with us this morning to kick off our first February “Love Episode” with one of the defining characteristics of love according to the Scripture—patience.

Erin: Yup. It says right there in black and white in our Bibles, “Love is patient,” and we sure need that perspective. I'm always scanning the headlines. I love the headlines. I love to be up on what's going on in the news. Last week I read one that says, “Pandemic destroys friendships and divides families!” exclamation point.

Dannah: So sad. You know that actually reminds me. I sat in on your podcast recording last week, Erin.

Erin: Thank you.

Dannah: I'm so excited about The Deep Well, I listened in. You mentioned that divorce is up 40% as a direct result of husbands and wives spending so much time together during the pandemic.

Erin: Right, a 40% jump since March . . . and the numbers were high pre-pandemic. 

So we're really seeing a tremendous spike in marriages falling apart. I've also seen the phrase “harsh parenting” thrown around quite a bit. I've kind of lived the phrase “harsh parenting” a little bit, and lots of articles and tips about how to keep your cool with your kids. While so many of us are still working and schooling virtually. That's been a real struggle for me personally, working full time. Kids home all the time. Lots of days I feel like I have zero patience or negative patience. And lots of days when, frankly, I have lost my cool.

Dannah: Yeah, me too. More than once during these days of being shut in. I feel still like we're shut in. I still feel like we're shut in. I think I said my sentence backwards. It’s the snow, I blame the snow. 

Erin: I knew what you meant.

Dannah: Well, what tested your patience this week, friends? We have an opportunity right there in that test to seek God's perspective on what love really means. I'm glad we're gonna spend the whole month parked on that idea. This morning, our Grounded friend Robin Mckelvy will be prepping us with some practical ideas to demonstrate patience. That's coming up later in the episode.

Erin: Yep, we just love it when Robin is here. Hey, give us some love here on Grounded if you are watching this live. I want to see some hearts. So, give us some hearts. Let us know that you're there and to women that I have all the heart eyes for, our co-hosts, Alejandra and Portia, Grounded hosts, good morning.

Portia Collins: Good morning.

Alejandra Slemin: Hello.

Erin: Alejandra’s wearing her love colors, I love it.

Alejandra: Oh, I'm ready. I need some love. I have the love. I'm ready.

Erin: Good.

Portia: Well, here on Grounded, good news comes to those who wait patiently.

Alejandra: That's great. That's very nice. Portia, I like that segue.

Portia: Did you like that? Thank you.

Well, today's good news is truly out of this world. It comes from the International Space Station. Recently, Victor Glover, one of seven men and women on the Space Station's Expedition 64 crew. I want to make sure I got it right, yeah, Expedition 64 Crew. They took and posted these stunning pictures of our sunrises and sunsets from space. Those photos have gone viral. And y'all we can see why . . . talk about perspective.

Alejandra: Victor is a follower of Jesus, and He has made headlines before for what he chose to bring into space. I mean, think of this, he chose to bring communion cups and a Bible.

Portia: Okay, way to go Victor. Victor is the first African-American astronaut to travel on a long-term space mission. He's using his high-profile position to point others to Jesus and God's Word. Sharing that sunrise and sunset reminds him of Psalm 30:5, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Alejandra: Well, unbelievably, Victor has internet service on the International Space Station. How does that even work? 

And he has been faithfully attending church and the virtual services in his home church in Texas. He has found ways to serve in his church, and he's still financially supporting ministries from up there. Can you believe that?

Portia: Wow. Wow, wow. Well, check this out, guys. He told reporters that he spends much of his time in outer space just worshiping Jesus. Victor, we love your example, loving Jesus wherever you are . . . even if it's in outer space.

Dannah: And Victor, we sure hope you're streaming Grounded up there. Because we're sending you lots of love down here from good old earth. 

You know, guys, I am so excited about this new story because so many times we have had believers up in space. And they have testified of the goodness of God. One of my favorite stories is an astronaut who said the first time I saw the earth from up there, and I saw that it was a circle, the first thing I thought of how did the prophet, I believe it was Isaiah, get it right that God looks down on the circle of the earth. 

Hey, we thought it was flat back then? What testimony. They're just looking at God's creation, and being connected to them. I love that.

Portia: Amazing.

Dannah: Thanks for that good news story this morning, girls. It's time for us to get Grounded with God's people. And today's guest might sound familiar to you. He's the radio and podcast listener that many of you listen to. Bob Lepine is the co-host of FamilyLife Today. He's also the author of a new book, Love Like You Mean It: The Heart of a Marriage That Honors God. Good morning, my friend. How are you?

Bob Lepine: Hello Dannah, it is great to be with you, and great to be with the Grounded audience this morning. This is a real treat for me.

Dannah: Well, we are the ones that feel like we have got a Valentine's Day treat, having you as our guest. Bob, I have a photograph that I found on your wife's Facebook page. It's a photograph of you and a beautiful Maryann. 

And it was a few years ago, I believe that was your wedding day. Is that correct?

Bob: That is our wedding day. That's the afternoon of the day that we got married May 19, 1979. 

Dannah: 1979.

Bob: That was those two kids who didn't know what they were saying or doing looked at each other and saying “I do.” We were all kind of like that back in the day where we just had limited understanding of what we were doing. Right? 

Dannah: Yeah. What are we doing? Well, I gotta ask, what were you doing on that day? How did you define love?

Bob: You know, I've looked back at this. Tragically, I think the way I defined love back the day we got married was when I'm with you, you make me feel this way. And I like feeling this way. Therefore, I will do what I need to have you around so that I can keep feeling this way, was a very self-focused, self-fulfilling kind of a view of love. I wasn't thinking about giving, I was thinking about getting. It was just all about me back in the day. 

And I say this. We were both Christians at the time, but our view of love had been so culturally shaped rather than being biblically shaped, that at least for me, I was thinking this feels nice. So, I was thinking like the Beach Boys had taught me to think which is: wouldn't it be nice if we were older, and it's just gonna be so great when we can say goodnight and stay together?

Dannah: Okay, we won't mention that the Beach Boys does at least help you identify the year in which you were married a bit? 

Bob: A little bit. 

Dannah: I'm not going to use the words “date you.” I'm not going to do that. But I love what you're saying. Because Bob and I, our heart's desire was to share the gospel at our wedding. He shared how marriage was a picture of Christ in the Church. But boy, we knew that textbook version of what marriage was supposed to be, but we didn't know the hot pavement of life version. 

As a pastor and Bible teacher . . . because many people don't know that you're also a pastor and have a beautiful pastor's heart. They do see that, I think, in the events when you speak and share and on air. You've been helping newlyweds define love as they kick off their marriage. You write your book that you discovered some pretty interesting things about that. What have you discovered?

Bob: I remember sitting down with a couple years ago and doing premarital counseling with them. I asked them the first night, I gave them a blank sheet of paper. I said, just write down your definition of love. What I got back from them was a combination of Hallmark sentiment and Rob McEwen poetry, which again, is kind of dating where I was at the time. 

But I looked at that, and because Maryann and I had been married for a while, I could look at their definition and go, “This is nice, and this is sweet.” And I hope this is all true in your marriage. But you need some boot leather understanding of love. You need some rugged understanding of love, because there will be days when all of this sweetness that you're dreaming of will not be the reality. 

I hoped for them that by the time we were done with our premarital counseling they would have a different definition. And so, the last night of premarital counseling, I handed them a piece of paper. I said, “Now, write down your definition of love.” I read to them what they had written the first time we had gotten together. And at this time, they fed back to me what I've been trying to teach them through premarital counseling, and that is that love is commitment and self-sacrifice. Love is the idea that I'm not going anywhere. I'm committed to you. We're in this, I'm here for the long run, even when things get hard. I will sacrifice for your good and for God's glory to make this marriage work. That's what real love looks like in a marriage relationship. 

Dannah: Yeah. I feel the need to just reach out there. I wish I could hug some of you and shake you up by the shoulders and say, “Listen, what he's saying about tough times that even includes a pandemic, when you know, you got a little more time than you bargained for with your husband. It matters now.” So, since it matters now, Bob, take us to God's manual on love, the Bible. How does our heavenly Father define it? Catch us up.

Bob: Well, 1 Corinthians 13 is that classic passage that takes us to look at the qualities of love. But I'd even pull back from there for a second and say, “Jesus was the one who told us that “Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends.” In Romans 5, it says, “God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still his enemies, Christ died for us.” 

So, there is something about death to self that is foundational to what love is, when you get to that passage in 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul begins by saying, you can be gifted, you can be wealthy, you can be sacrificial. But if you don't have this commitment to laying down your life, and for the good of others, none of that really matters. 

That's where he begins in verse 4 with this definition that we've all heard or read before: love is patient, love is kind, it's not self-seeking, it does not keep a record of wrongs, it's not arrogant or rude. There's this whole exposition. I've done this exercise where I've read that passage, and I've taken the word love out, and I put my own name in. And I've said, let's see how loving a person I am. Bob is patient. Bob is kind. Bob is not self-seeking. And I don't get very far before I go, boy, I got a ways to go before these things are as true about me as they ought to be. So I'm in constant pursuit of the kind of loving qualities that are laid out for us in the pages of Scripture.

Dannah: I'm thinking Dannah Gresh wouldn't come out too well if she put her name in there today. 

Bob: None of us would.

Dannah: Yeah, exactly. Well, let's start at the beginning of this chapter. Love is patient. What do we need to know?

Bob: It is interesting that that's the first descriptive term. Because if I sat down with a room of 100 people and said, fill in the blank love is ______. I don't think that patient would be the first thing that would come to most people's minds. And yet, it's where the apostle Paul starts. The word for patience in, if you've got a King James Bible, you read, “love is long suffering, love suffereth long.” 

Dannah: Oh, no.

Bob: What a place to start by saying, here's what real love looks like: you're going to suffer. And it's going to be for a long time. I don't think what the Bible is suggesting to us is that in a marriage, or in any kind of a relationship, the goal should be suffering, or that we should enable someone who is causing us to suffer. That's not what the Bible is talking about here. 

But in the reality of life, as we're with other people, we're going to face things that are going to be a struggle for us. It's going to be hard for us. We're going to get annoyed. We're going to be provoked. We're going to have unpleasantness as a part of the relationship. We're gonna get crossways with one another. And so, here the Bible starts by saying if you love someone, you persevere. Even when those things are true.

In fact, you go to the end of this passage, or the end of these character qualities, and it says, “Love bears all things, endures all things.” That's really what patience is. It’s bearing and enduring, even when things are unpleasant. Dannah, I’ve got to stop just long enough to say, I'm not talking about bearing or enduring physical abuse.

Dannah: Right.

Bob: Because the Bible is clear elsewhere. When somebody is abusing you physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, you should not enable that. If you see a brother continue in, you're supposed to restore that brother, you're supposed to call that out and help that brother or sister grow. But I am saying that in the day-to-day realities of our relationship, we're gonna face things that cause us to have to endure, to have to bear. Real love will do that and will say, “I'll with you in the midst of that.”

Dannah: That was a real eye opener for me. I mean, I've read the love chapter, as we call it so many times. But as I was reading your book, you kind of expanded on this love is patient thing. It really was an eye opener for me. I'd gotten married and said, “Hey, I'm signing up. I want some romance, some babies. I want grandbabies and rocking chairs.” I didn’t sign up for, “I really hope I get a nice couple of years of long suffering. That'd be really nice if we could have that too.” Like, that wasn't in the works, right. But there have been some of those moments in your marriage, Bob. What have those moments looked like for you and Maryann, where the suffering pops in and love has to take over?

Bob: I think the darkest season of our marriage. This was back. We'd been married for four or five years at this point. We had a three-year-old. Maryann was pregnant with our second child, and I got fired from my job.

We had just moved into a new house. Everything was trucking along and all of a sudden, I'm out of work. I start looking for where am I going to work. I found a job. We were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time. The job I found was in Phoenix. Well, Maryann had grown up in Tulsa, her family was in Tulsa. It's where she had roots and where she had relationships. She's pregnant with her second child, I leave for a month to go start a new job in Phoenix, while she stays behind to try to sell the house. While I'm out in Phoenix, one of my job's is to try to find a place for us to live in Phoenix. I found a house and bought a house without her seeing the house that we were buying. This is a rookie mistake I don't recommend.

Dannah: Uh oh. This was before you could take her on a FaceTime tour. I suppose. 

Bob: You didn't do a virtual tour. She was at home, and we couldn't fly her out to come see houses. I remember being on the phone and saying I'm gonna put an offer on this house. And she kind of swallowed and said, “Okay, and then she came out to Phoenix. She did not like the house I had picked out. 

Dannah: Oh no.

Bob: It’s July in Phoenix. She's pregnant. We've got a three-year-old. She's got no friends. I'm trying to start a new job and get everything here. I will tell you that I came home from work most days to find a wife who was . . . I don't know if she was clinically depressed. But if she wasn't, she was showing all of the symptoms of depression . . . and understandably so.

Dannah: Yeah. 

Bob: But after about three weeks of coming home to a wife who was not communicative, who doesn't have motivation to do much. I remember one night being out in the backyard in Phoenix, kind of kicking the dirt and looking up at the stars. I just had this thought. I said, “I'm not going to get a divorce because I know I'm not supposed to get a divorce. But I understand why people want to.”

Dannah: Oh, wow.

Bob: In those moments, love has to endure and persevere and say, “I'm not going anywhere. It's hard right now. Our marriage is not pleasant. Right now, I'm not enjoying where we are right now. But I will persevere and endure because I'm committed to you. And we're gonna find a way out of this together.” 

One of the things I've learned over the years . . . There was a survey done in the state of Oklahoma many years ago, where they went to couples who had filed for divorce. And for whatever reason, these couples had not gone through with their divorce. They asked these couples five years later, how is your marriage today. The couples who had filed for divorce five years earlier now rated their marriage on either a four or five on a five-point scale. 83% of them said it's either a four or five, when they pressed through the hard times, when they found a way to come together and to say, “Okay, I'm committed to you; you're committed to me. Together, we're gonna find our way out of the pain or the problem or the challenge we're in.” God meets you there, and God leads you to a better place. It just happens. I've seen that happen over and over again.

Dannah: Well, I feel like there's someone listening right now or maybe who’ll be listening on the podcast that really needed to hear that, because maybe you heard the top of the hour, Erin found some stats that the divorce rate is really rising as a result of the pandemic. 

Bob, could you just talk to the woman or maybe man who's listening and they're about to file for divorce, or they’re determined to take a friend's phone number out of their digital Rolodex. It's not just about marriage relationships being tested right now. We're wanting to write things off and take an easier way. Don't take the easy way out. Talk to that woman right now. What advice would you give to her?

Bob: Well, again, I want to be careful here because there are people who are in dangerous situations. And to protect yourself, you need to get godly help and support around you. I always tell people who are wondering what to do in a relationship, don't make that decision in a vacuum. You need community. You need pastoral guidance and support. You need godly people speaking into your life. So, get that. 

But I would say to people who are in difficult circumstances and life is unpleasant and you're unhappy, this is where you've got to run to Jesus. You've got to say to Him, “Lord, You know where I am. You know what I'm feeling. Meet me here. I need joy from You. I need peace from You. I need not to look to my circumstances, or to my relationships, to be my source of strength and hope and life. I need You to be that. I need You to give me the strength so that I can persevere and endure. 

Then I would take them to 1 Peter 3. I would say after Peter has talked about wives having gentle and quiet spirits, and husbands loving their wives, he says now, “All of you, you’ve got to be compassionate. You've got to be patient; you've got to be humble.” And then it says, “And don’t return evil for evil, but return a blessing instead.” So practically, I would say, ask yourself this question: “How can I proactively bless my spouse who I don't feel like blessing? I'm not inclined to want to bless today? How can I do something that will be a blessing for my spouse today?”

Maybe get the Revive Our Hearts 30-Day Challenge on how to bless your spouse and how to persevere and start to sow seeds of sacrificial kindness and love into your marriage, and see what God does with those seeds as you seek to plant them today. 

Dannah: I love that. In fact, it's a snow day for 130 million Americans today. If it's not snowing where you are, I declared a proverbial snow day so that you can maybe do that, take a step back, cancel the schedule, whatever's on it, write it off, and just go to the Lord and say, “What do You need me to do with this friendship that's completely out of whack? Because of the conflict and the division and the opinions about everything swirling around us? What do You want me to do with my children who, Lord, I would really love for school to open up and send them back, but they're still here. How do I apply patience to this relationship?” 

Could I just call you to a snow day in your own home? And do what Bob just advised, turn to some of those passages. We'll drop them in the chat column so you can find them easily. Bob, I could listen to you all day long. What wise advice. In fact, could you stick around? I might have you jump in just a few minutes with another question.

Bob: Yeah, I'd love to do that. Thanks.

Dannah: All right. Thanks, friend. 

Erin: Thanks, Bob. Hey, we all have that thing that just drives us crazy. Maybe it is the laundry on the floor. Maybe it's the toothpaste gloop in the sink. Maybe it is that friend that monopolizes the conversation and never lets you get a word in edgewise. Maybe you even brought it up. Or maybe you brought it up repeatedly to the other person, and they're not going to change. So, we want you to listen to this short clip from our friend Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She's telling a story about a green couch, a teal rug, and patient love.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Loving others means putting their needs and preferences ahead of our own. It means deferring sometimes about our own preferences. It values relationships more than it values getting your way. A friend of mine sent me a picture last night of her living room. Now I don't know if you can tell this, the lime green couch is one that a really good decorator came in and helped them put in their home with some really matching coordinating furniture. But this woman's husband loves this teal paisley blue carpet rug that he found, and he decided he wanted in their living room. 

Well, as you can see, it does not match. Looks kind of awful, doesn't it? And this woman said to me, “My kids are always saying you need to tell dad to get rid of that rug.” But he likes that rug. He wants it. He likes it. And this woman said to me, “I've decided that my relationship with my husband matters more than my rug matching my furniture. I'm gonna let it go.” 

She asked him about it last night. He said, “What is it that the kids are always saying to me about that room. What's the problem?” She said, “Well you know, it's the rug.” And he says, “What's wrong with it?” But I loved what she said. She said, “The relationship matters more to me, love matters more than having my living room match.” Okay, now that's practical, isn't it? That's love.

Erin: Well, I'm afraid I'd be on the side of the teal rug on that one. I sure like it more than the green couch. But those are representative of the kinds of things we can lose our cool over, and opportunities to choose patience instead. 

I want you to grab your Bibles. It's time to get Grounded in God's Word. And here is this morning's big idea: We can demonstrate Christlike love by being patient, about His sanctifying work in the lives of other people. 

Now sanctification . . . that's a big churchy word. There’s a difference between salvation and sanctification. Salvation is coming to Jesus by grace through faith. It happens when we put our trust in Jesus, when we express a desire to turn from our sin That happened for me when I was 15 years old. 

And then the work of sanctification begins, where Jesus molds us into His image by the power of His Holy Spirit, through His Word by the sharpening effect that other saints have on us. And sanctification doesn't happen all at once. 

I've got a poster child for sanctification for us to consider together this morning. She may not be who you think of. It’s Martha. And you probably are most familiar with Martha, the perfectionist, that we find in Luke 10, verses 38–42. Every women's ministry leader loves this passage. If you've been to any women's events at your church, you've probably heard it always encouraging us to be Marys and not Marthas. Poor Martha. This passage describes Martha at a moment when she invited Jesus into her home. 

And we could use that as an analogy for when we invite Jesus into our lives, although it really happened. And so, Martha invites Jesus into her home, and her sister Mary was there. And Mary chooses to sit at the feet of Jesus and just soak in his presence. Mary's the good sister in this picture, and Martha instead chooses to focus on all the tasks in front of her.

I'm going to read us quickly verses 40–42, from this story. “But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’” 

Martha was not very patient with her sister here. “But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’”

Well, anyone who knows what it's like to be compared to your sister can surely feel Martha's pain. And all of us can relate to letting the temporary and fleeting cares of our lives even when we know they're temporary and fleeting, pull us away from Jesus, a good portion. 

We need to know that this is just one snapshot of Martha's relationship with Jesus. And where you are today is just one snapshot of your relationship with Jesus. And if you lost your cool with your kids already this morning, or you and your husband had a big blow up over the weekend, or you've got a friend that you are so mad at, and you can't think one patient thought towards her . . . that's just one snapshot. 

And so, we need the bigger picture, we need the bigger picture of Martha's story because it encourages us for our own. And also, you need to know that the people you love—your spouse, your children, your friends, your neighbors—where they are right now, it's just one snapshot. 

Or they might not even have a relationship with Jesus yet. And maybe you see some things in their lives that you really want God to change. Maybe they have patterns of sin. Maybe they have behaviors that just annoy you. Maybe they don't know the Lord and you're troubled, rightfully so. We all need Jesus. But here's my encouragement to us today. That we be patient with God's work in the hearts of the people that we love.

He loves the people that you love more than you ever can. Scripture tells us that God's desire is for everyone to come to Him, and that we would all be bearers of His image. So, He wants what you want, if you desire for them to be more like Jesus. And Scripture also assures us that for those of us who are in Christ, He begins a good work in us at salvation, and He will finish it. But His timing very rarely looks like we think it should.

I want to give us another quick snapshot of Martha. It comes from Luke chapter 11. Another famous story. Maybe you've never connected the dots. Martha and Mary's brother Lazarus was gravely ill, they sent word to Jesus about it, which is a step of great faith. And Jesus did not come to the sisters immediately; it took Him some time to arrive. And in that interim, their brother Lazarus died. 

So, when Jesus gets to Bethany, Mary and Martha are surrounded by family and friends, and they're deeply grieving. I want to read us, Luke 11, verses 20–27. 

“So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.” 

Think of the flip. This time Mary stays at home and attends to what needs attended to, and Martha stops and goes to Jesus. 

“Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.’” (John 11:20–27)

This is a very different Martha. She leaves a home. She leaves her home full of people who I'm sure wanted her attention, and who probably brought a lot of food that she needed to help with. 

She runs to Jesus, and she expresses profound faith. She asked Jesus to raise her brother from the dead. Now, we live post resurrection, and so we know this is possible. But think about how radical this is, from Martha, who lives before the resurrection. She says, raise him from the dead Lord. And then she says, Yes, Lord, I believe You are the Christ. Not my to-do list, not my reputation as a hostess, not my relationship with my sister, not my circumstances, not my grief, Jesus, You are Lord. Jesus had been changing Martha's heart. And Jesus is changing your heart. And Jesus is changing the hearts of the people you love. 

I say this about my children all the time, the jury has not even started deliberating about them yet. That there's no verdict here. God is at work in them. And God will continue to be at work in them until he calls him home. You can express your love by being patient, about God's sanctifying work in the hearts of other people.

You're not the Holy Spirit. But we those of us who have Jesus have the Holy Spirit, and He is demonstrating longsuffering with each of us. Can't we demonstrate longsuffering with each other, and not try to put the Spirit on a timeline for how we think how quickly He needs to change the people we love. 

I have a friend who said to me once about some family members who were in patterns of sin that alarmed me. She said, “Erin, trust them to Jesus. That's the safest place for them to be.” And that person who's testing your patience, trust them to Jesus. It's the safest place for them to be. I have a friend who does this exceptionally well. It's Robyn Mckelvy. She always has such practical wisdom about how to love others well, and she is a woman of great patience. Robyn, take it away.

Robyn Mckelvy:Thank you, Erin. Hey, y’all, it's great to be here. I was away because my brother passed away. 

We're gonna talk a little bit about patience and love and how God can use this. I have for you today three stories and four questions. 

So, my story number one. I'm going to start with my daughter and son-in-law and grandson who live in our basement apartment. My grandson is 13 months old now, and he's into everything. If I leave the den for a couple of seconds, I can't tell you how much dirt that little guy can scoop out in a couple of seconds. But he scoops out the dirt out of my plants, and it's all over the floor. So, my question number one is, how is patience displayed in your life when your toddler spills tons of dirt all over the floor? 

Story number two, my tenth child is adopted. Now, this month on the 25th, he will be 13 years old, and he is stealing. All I need to say is, we are all dealing with several things. Lately, he continues to remind me and my husband that we are not his parents, and even more of late, he's been very disrespectful in that. So, how Is your patience? Question number two, how is your patience displayed in your life when your team is disrespectful to you, and you need to discipline them? 

Story number three, we all have an opportunity to display patience in this fight for justice. Recently, I had a friend who posted something online, in light of the Black Lives movement. It was very, very hurtful. My sister in Christ posted this, “If you have to put a color in front of lives matter, you are a racist.” 

Now, I know we don't have time to unpack everything about this issue. I know for some Christians, we don't agree with everything that gets mixed into the Black Lives movement network. But I also know the hearts of my family and friends using that phrase, they're not just saying only black lives matter. And they're not just saying that only black lives matter; they're saying lives matter. 

But in this instance, that black lives matter, they're saying and calling attention to a need for justice we need right now. Kind of like saying unborn lives need protection. We're not saying that all life doesn't need protection, but we need to focus on certain issues of justice at certain times.

In light of all of this for my children when they read that, they felt like she was personally calling them racist. And for them to be called racist, this really, really hurt, especially because this is a friend that's at my house quite a bit. In that moment it would have been easy, I mean, so very easy, to lash out. But what was needed was biblical, supernatural patience. So, my third question is, how is patience displayed in your life, when sisters and brothers from your local church, or friends in your neighborhood when they post things on social media that hurt you very deeply? 

And then my fourth question, for all of us is, do you know God can and will use toddlers, teens, and the saints to help you remember truth? Trials give us an opportunity to show patience, and patience is enduring. Endurance is nothing but extending grace. But the enemy of God wants you to be quick tempered and fly off the handle. But you know, trials will come because God tells us you know this in many forms. So as you begin to clean up the mess that your toddler made, you start singing the clean up song; you extend grace.

As you sit with that teenager, and you begin a conversation, and you know thar this conversation is going to happen over and over again, extend grace. As you pray for a time to visit with that particular saint from your church, prepare for your time by first extending grace. There are two words in this passage in James.

I'm in James chapter 1. It says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kind, for you know . . .” Sometimes it says, “Knowing this, but for you know, that the trying of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

So these two words: “knowing this.” Remember, there is something that you need to know, extend grace, because patience is what God is doing to increase who you are. So, you look more like Him. 

There's three things I want you to remember out of this: expect it. Expect the trials; know it. The testing of your faith produces endurance. Then, extend it. You extend grace, because grace is nothing but love. And we're talking about extending love toward man. Grace is nothing but love in action. 

Alejandra: That's right, Robyn, thank you so much. Thank you so much to lead us toward extending grace. I want everyone to open their toolbox today, because we have a tool to help you stay grounded in love.

Portia: Yes, we do. You know, one of the areas in my life that exposes my lack of patience is parenting my daughter, Emmy. And we have a good model of this, this morning. 

I'm recording, and she came out of the bedroom. And I was like, now is the perfect time to really model patience and not shoo her back into the bedroom or run her away. I really want to model that and love her well. But it’s a struggle sometimes.

Alejandra: Well, just like Robyn said. We need to extend that grace, and every mom can relate. We are passing along today, maybe you can read it. It’s a blog post for you today called “Three Steps Closer to Patient Parenting.” We will drop the link in the chat so you can have easier access to it.

Portia: Listen to these opening sentences, “Impatience is a gateway sin. What begins with impatience often quickly leads to anger, unkindness, and lack of self-control.” Ouch, ouch, that steps on my toes a lot.I know she’s right.

Alejandra: She is indeed. This blog gives three simple steps that you can do at home today with your husband, with your children, with your coworkers, to practice a little bit of patience.

Portia: Yep, of course, it's not just parents who need to practice patience. One more tool to read, I recommend this blog post, “Lay Aside the Weight of Irritability” from John Blown. And I think you guys will find this super helpful.

Dannah: We're gonna drop the link to those articles in the comments as usual, along with a link to Bob's book, Bob Lepine. Love Like You Mean It.

I want to invite Bob to come back on, because friends, you're really resonating with this topic of patience and the need for it. And Bob, they're writing so many cool things, including the fact that they're very sad and having to be patient with the fact that they can't be on the Love Like You Mean It Cruise this month. They're disappointed about that. 

But one of the things I'm seeing is, lots of people are commenting things like: How do I be patient with my husband? Because he's quit on our marriage. How do I be patient with my adult prodigal child? It's been so long, and they're so far from home. How do I be patient with my friend who just won't try for us to see the common ground that we have; they can only see the differences? Patience is being tested right now. Bob, what happens when it's not the little things like the baby coming out of the room. But it's the long, big stuff? 

Bob: Well, this is why the definition of love begins with patience, because patience is not required when struggle is easy. We don't have to be patient. We don't have to suffer long when there's not suffering. So, this idea starts by saying you should expect that there will be these kinds of trials in your life. I think we have to say to the people in our lives who are provoking us to be impatient, “Listen, I want you to know, I love you. I'm not going anywhere. I'm here for you. I want God's best for you. I'm here to help make that happen whatever comes.

And when we communicate that, when they know that's true about us, I believe God will use that to soften their hearts over time. It may take years for that to happen. It's possible it will never happen. But it's still the right posture for us. And the question then for us is, Where do I get the strength to do that? How do I find the resource in me to do that? 

Here's what the Scripture tells us. We have to put on Christ. We don't have the strength. We don't have it in us to be able to demonstrate the kind of patient endurance, the bearing of all things, the enduring of all things, the love that says I'm committed to you and I'm not going anywhere. We don't have that in us. 

If you're relying on your own resources, your own strength, your own emotional support, for that to happen. It's not going to happen. But you have to start every day throughout the day, you have to put on Christ. You have to say, Lord, I need you to do this through me. And Dannah, I just there's a prayer I want to read. This prayer is attributed to the missionary to Ireland, St. Patrick. It's known as his Morning Prayer or St Patrick's Breastplate or the Lorica. I just think this helps us with the right posture every morning to pray a prayer like this. 

St. Patrick's prayer says,

 I arise today.
God's strength to pilate me. 
God's might to uphold me. 
God's wisdom to guide me. 
God's eye to look before me. 
God's ear to hear me. 
God's Word to speak for me. 
God's hand to guard me. 
God's way to lie before me. 
God's shield to protect me. 
God's hosts to save me. 

A foreigner alone or in a multitude, Christ be my shield today against wounding. 
Christ be with me. 
Christ before me. 
Christ behind me. 
Christ in me. 
Christ beneath me.
Christ above me. 
Christ on my right. 
Christ on my left. 
Christ when I lay down. 
Christ when I sit down. 
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me. 
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me. 
Christ in the eye that sees me. 
Christ in the ear that hears me. 
I arise today through the mighty strength of the Lord of creation. 

That's the prayer we need to be able to manifest the patience of God. Think how patient God is with you when you are weak, when you stumble, when you fail for a season, for long seasons, and demonstrates that patience. Lord, give me your patience for others, and then put that on display. That's, I think, the prayer for all of us today.

Dannah: What a beautiful prayer to end on, friends. I hope you've enjoyed having Bob with us as much as I have. Thank you, friend, for being with us today. And we hope that you'll wake up with us next week, with maybe a little more patience than you had at the start of this week, and that you found it in Christ, because that's the only place we can go right now, with so many relationships being tested. 

Well until then, we hope that you'll have a week full of His strength and His patience and know that we love you very much. We hope that you'll wake up with us next week with patience and hope for Grounded.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

Support the Grounded Podcast

Darkness. Fear. Uncertainty. Women around the world wake up hopeless every day. What if you could play a part in bringing them freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness instead? Your gift ensures that we can continue to spread the message that Christ is King and that the way to know Him is through His Word. Spread gospel hope! Donate now.

Donate Now

About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra is a sinner who believed in Jesus at the age of seven in her native country, Dominican Republic. She is a wife and homeschool mom. She's passionate about Christ, studying the Scriptures, discipling, teaching, and learning alongside women. Currently, she supports her husband as he serves as a church planter in Victoria, BC, Canada. Alejandra loves herbs, designing headbands with her daughter, being outdoors, and serving her community.

About the Guest

Bob Lepine

Bob Lepine

Bob Lepine has been married to Mary Ann since 1979. Together, they have five children. Bob is the Vice President of Content, Chief Creative Officer, and co-host of FamilyLife Today. He's the author of numerous articles and books, serves on the Advisory Board for Revive Our Hearts, and emcees the True Woman Conferences.