I Corinthians 13:4-8, gives us 16 characteristics of love. This is not a list of feelings but rather of choices. The list begins with the admonition, “love is patient.” The word “patient” is actually a word that means to be wronged, have the power to retaliate, but choose not to. How do I know if someone really loves me? Because even when I wrong them and they have the power to strike back, they choose not to. Imagine how vastly improved our relationships at home and at church would be if we just practiced that one principle. The problem is that this kind of love goes against our nature. When we’re wronged we want to retaliate and in so doing we usually make matters even worse.
A husband and wife were both late for work one morning and were frantically hurrying to get dressed when the zipper on the back of the wife’s dress got stuck. She struggled to free it, but the dress was one of those slim, fitted styles, and try as she might, she just couldn’t get a good enough grip on the zipper to work it loose. She asked her husband to help, and with an exasperated sigh, he hurried over to her, gave it a mighty yank, and broke the tab off. The woman was livid. “You broke it?” she cried, squirming around to see her back in the mirror. “This is my favorite dress and you’ve broken the zipper!”
As the man tried to help with the zipper, his wife squirmed and turned trying to get out of the dress and the poor man got tickled. That didn’t help matters one bit. Finally, the wife gave up, jerked open a dresser drawer, pulled out a pair of scissors, and pointed them at him with a glacier-forming stare. The husband at first thought she might be planning to attack him with the weapon, but instead she barked at him, “You’ll have to cut me out of it.” He quickly snipped away the dress and the wife rushed to find something else to wear. The two of them then headed off to work, both in a state of frustration.
The wife was still fuming when she later returned home and found his car parked in the garage with a pair of familiar-looking, denim-clad legs sticking out from beneath it. She thought of her ruined dress and momentarily considered kicking those long legs that protruded from under the car. Then a better idea came to her. She bent down, grabbed the tab of his trousers zipper, and roughly zipped it up and down half a dozen times. She secretly enjoyed hearing him bang his head on the car’s axle and cry out in alarm as he reacted in shocked terror. Smiling with satisfaction, she went on into the house . . . and was ASTONISHED to see her husband standing in the kitchen.
“What are you doing in HERE?” she croaked.
“I’m cooking your favorite dinner. I thought it would be a good way to apologize,” he said sweetly.
“Wh-wh-who is that out there in the garage under your car?” she managed to stutter.
“Oh, that’s our new neighbor. He came over to help me work on the transmission.”