Long Wick or Short Fuse?

 “Love suffers long and is kind…” –1 Corinthians 13:4

Love or agape in the Greek describes God’s love. It is the highest-level of love that exists. The Apostle Paul offers a list of characteristics as a “litmus-test” that we are to take to determine our authenticity. This list acts like a mirror that we can look into and compare the reflection we see with what love’s expression actually is.  The very first characteristic that is listed is “long-suffering”. This word describes two ideas: 1) A relentless pursuit and passion. 2) A patient restraint of anger.

Long-Wick

We will use the concept of a candle “wick” to describe the first idea described. A “wick” is usually very long and very slow burning. It is a cord or strand of loosely woven, twisted, braided fibers on a candle or an oil lamp that draws up fuel to the flame. The wick therefore paints the picture of a very consistent, steady, very slow and long burning flame that potentially can go the distance and give off light throughout the entire night.

Love is a determined decision that is committed to relentlessly continue to give and give and give regardless of the recipient’s response or lack of response. Love is so passionate and persistent that it refuses to give-up, quit, concede, tap-out, retreat or surrender. Instead like the “Energizer Bunny”, it keeps on going and going and going as long as it takes to for others to finally respond, there’s change, progress or they hear and receive what we have been trying to communicating. Love continues giving and going and stretching until it finally reaches them and they come-around.

Long-suffering is to suffer-long, have endurance and forbearance all while exercising the patient restraint of anger. Before we continue, I want to make it clear and stress that “long-suffering” does not describe God’s command to submit to an abusive, dangerous or hurtful situation “out of love”. Long-suffering does not imply that we must accept imposed suffering and punishment for as long as it is being given to us out of obedience to God or for the sake of “love”. This in no way, shape or form represents God’s love or His long-suffering. You are not under any Scriptural obligation to remain in an abusive and hostile situation masked in “love”.

Short-Fuse

The second concept we will use to describe “long-suffering” is a fuse. A “fuse” is a tube, cord, or the like, filled or saturated with combustible matter, for lighting an explosive. In contrast to a “wick”, a fuse burns very quickly. As a matter of fact, if the fuse of a bomb is too short the bomb may prematurely detonate. A fuse may be short or long but the intensity by which it is consumed is in direct proportion to its fuel. This is where we get the term, “Having a short fuse”. This means that the person is very quick-tempered, easily angered, unstable and volatile and may explode at any second.

In short, long-suffering will be patient and not “fly off the chain” and attack like a junkyard dog. Long-suffering will use every ounce of strength you possess to restrain your anger even though every fiber in your being wants to detonate and explode. Once again just ike the “Energizer Bunny”, long-suffering keeps going and going and going without detonating. Always remember the difference between a “wick” and a “fuse” is the fuel that it contains or is saturated in. Remove the accelerant of “anger” and the fuse will be transformed into a wick that will provide a long slow, steady, consistent and constant burning flame that will continue going and giving and stretching until it has reached and accomplished its purpose. Always remember that others can refuse, reject or ignore your love, but they can never stop you from giving it or loving them.

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