“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;”
Paul says in verses one to three that a person who uses his gifts without love is one great big religious zero – he gives nothing, gains nothing, and is nothing. Turning from the futility of using gifts without love (13:1-3), Paul now gives 15 characteristics of love required in using our gifts (13:4-8a). We have an enumeration of the values that personify love. Seven are positive, and eight are negative.
4Love suffers long
“Suffers long” means long tempered and comes from two words – long and soul. A person who suffers long is a long soul. This person has a long-protracted ability to restrain emotional reactions. It is patience with people as over against circumstances. This kind of temper does not retaliate. Longsuffering has the capacity to take revenge but utterly refuses to do so. The New Testament uses this word of God’s longsuffering toward man. The Greeks did not consider this longsuffering as a virtue, for they totally refused to accept any insult or injury by anyone. They went for revenge.
Eph 4:2, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love
There are two Greek words for patience or longsuffering. One word means patience in the face of duress or trial. This form of patience does not undergo despondency in a trial but has a persistent sense of hope and confidence through it all. This word is not our word here. The word in this phrase means self-restraint in the face of provocation so that we do not retaliate against those who do us wrong. This is patience with people, not patience with dreadful circumstances. This person is free from resentment and revenge and has power over his passions. A person who “suffers long” carries himself with poise under duress with people.
Love controls reaction against provocation from people.
Longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:22). It is patience with people because it holds self-restraint in the face of provocation. It does not hastily retaliate. This person is slow to anger and puts up with a great amount of irritation. Longsuffering puts up with negative things from people without complaint. Longsuffering is not a synthetic, sickly, saintly, saccharin, marshmallow type of love. It has the capacity to take revenge but utterly refuses to do so. Love can take a lot; it can endure criticism, abuse, and untruth. A loving person is not petulant but has poise under fire. Are you inclined not to take anything from anyone?