Happy Tuesday to everyone. I hope you are safe and well. Today we finish our dive into the list of love’s attributes given in 1 Corinthians 13. We finish with Paul’s closing lines: (love) rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The Messages says, “(Love) takes pleasure in the flowering of truth. It puts up with anything, and trusts God always. Love always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
“Love can always stand with and on truth, because love is pure and good like truth” (Guzik). Love rejoices in the truth. It is “gladdened by goodness” as Moffatt says.
The ultimate truth is that we are all very broken people in need of God’s saving grace. It is a mercy we receive not only once but throughout our lives. God waits for each of us to turn and lay down our heavy load (Matthew 11:28-30). He invites us all to “go and sin no more” and to lay down the stones we use to destroy other people (John 8:1-11).
The truth is no one is outside of God’s grace. There is nothing we can do He cannot overcome. That ultimate truth should move all who call on His name such unspeakable joy and freedom we cannot help but want that truth and freedom for everyone we encounter.
Love’s Sweet Companions
Spurgeon called the final attributes on Paul’s list “love’s four sweet companions.” Love is strong, believing, hopeful, and enduring – in ALL THINGS.
Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].1 Cor 13:7 (AMP)
All things. We are quick to love people through some things. We can believe to a point and have hope until we are disappointed again. We will endure if we feel the payoff is worth it. But Paul calls us to a kind of love that stays in the ring in all things.
“God calls us farther and deeper into love for Him, for one another, and for a perishing world.” (Guzik)
“You must have fervent charity towards the saints, but you will find very much about the best of them which will try your patience; for, like yourself, they are imperfect, and they will not always turn their best side towards you, but sometimes sadly exhibit their infirmities. Be prepared, therefore, to contend with “all things” in them.” (Spurgeon)
Love is not easy. If it was there would not be so much heart ache about it. If we could simply, in our own capacity, love in all things, why would we need God? Instead, God points us to the love only He can do to help us understand the depth of His love for us. When you start to understand that God loves you through all things, hopefully you can start to bestow that love to others.
“Love can cover anything,” Barclay writes, “in the sense that it will never drag into the light of day the faults and mistakes of others. It would far rather set about quietly mending things than publicly displaying and rebuking them. More likely it means that love can bear any insult, any injury, any disappointment. It describes the kind of love that was in the heart of Jesus himself.” (emphasis added)
Love bears with one another. It helps others to carry the burden of life.
As a recovering lone ranger, I can tell you that it is easier when you let people in. Rather than seeing my “needs” as uncomfortable burdens to gritted through and endured, I have come to realize it is love to ask for help and it is love to let others help me. We were made for each other and so a love that can cover us even when we cannot believe in ourselves is precious.
When I hiked the Grand Canyon in 2018, we ended our hike in a torrent. We could barely see the lights on the top of the canyon and it was one grueling step after another. Yet in the darkness I heard the cheers of our friends at the top. While I could not see them, I heard their encouragement and felt it in my spirit. That is what it means to bear all things – it is standing on the other side of someone’s trials and calling them to be what they do not yet believe they can be themselves.
Barclay denotes there are two aspects to love being completely trusting. It means we take God at His Word – that He is who He says and will do what He says. It also means that we believe the best in people. He writes, “It is often true that we make people what we believe them to be. If we show that we do not trust people, we may make them untrustworthy. If we show people that we trust them absolutely, we may make them trustworthy.”
It is that incredible moment in Les Misérables, when Jean Valjean is brought back to the bishop’s house in chains because he was caught with the items he stole the night before. Instead of sending this man back to jail, the bishop gives him the candlesticks he left behind. Valjean goes on with his life and becomes a man of grace and generosity all because someone was gracious to him.
I am going to let you in on a secret – this kind of love hurts. You will get your heart broken. You will be betrayed. People will fail you. In the example above Valjean left as a thief in the night because he could not believe the bishop would be kind to him. He could not see the bishop had nothing but love for him.
“(It’s) not that love is easily deceived,” Redpath says, “or that love is blind (like puppy love). … Rather, it means that love is not basically suspicious. It takes the kindest view of others in every circumstance, as long as it possibly can. Love will consider the motives and make every allowance for failure. And when a man has fallen, love will think about the battle that he must have fought, and the struggle that he must have had before he went down.”
Again, we look to the life of Jesus who saw beyond people’s poverty, sickness, and situation, their past, their present, and the future they saw for themselves. He looked into their eyes and saw nothing but love and grace and the desire to be seen for what they could be. With grace and love He called all he encountered to be the best of who they could become.
No one was beyond the hope of Jesus. People you and I would write off for one reason or another, Jesus would sit and engage with because there is always a chance.
“When love is disappointed in the one in whom it trusted, it will yet hope for better things, although others may long since have ceased to do so. Love never despairs of anybody.” (Redpath)
One commentator translated this idea as, “Love bears everything with triumphant fortitude!” I love that! Love hopes in the best. This might require boundaries, to set someone free, to walk away. It might require hard actions, but in the end, love hopes for the best in others. It sees what the other cannot. It knows the sweet taste of freedom and joy found in God and continues to hope that some day the other might as well.
Not in blind hope, but in holy joy! This is not a call to Pollyanna living. This is not blind optimism and flat reassurances that, “God is in control” so we put our head in the sand and refuse to see what is around us. Rather, it is an anchor in the storm. It looks at the worse life can do and stays firm. It is love build on the foundation of rock, able to be battered and remain steadfast through the trials.
Love cannot be conquered. It never gives in. When the other has failed you yet again, when they have not come forward, when they fall again into generational habits, love still hopes. It never gives in.
Ultimately, love never ends.
- Alan Redpath: The Royal Route to Heaven
- Charles Spurgeon: Love’s Labours
- David Guzik’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13
- Warren Wiersbe New Testament Commentary (affiliate link)
- William Barclay’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13
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