Love Bears, Believes, Hopes, Endures

Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Love bears all things. “Bear” here primarily means to cover or conceal. But what does love conceal? Since it is interested in others, what love seeks to cover are their shortcomings. “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). It does so, not through deceit and dishonesty, but through forgiveness and forbearance. Love does not turn a blind eye to sin, but neither does it delight in magnifying people’s faults. While tabloid papers and talk shows feast on scandal, love glorifies what is good.

Love believes all things. In a world rife with liars, cheats, and con artists, we learn early not to trust people much. To be sure, God doesn’t wish us to be gullible. “The naive believes everything, but the prudent man considers his steps” (Proverbs 14:15). But when it comes to other people, love is an optimist. Its judgments are not dominated by suspicion and doubt. Love looks for the good in others and believes the best about them. How many of us would have seen the apostles as a bunch of losers with little hope for success? Yet Jesus believed in them enough to entrust them with the most important task ever placed in men’s hands. As we grow in our faith toward God, let’s try to develop a little more faith in one another.

Love hopes all things. We all experience disappointments: a friend or relative who won’t come to Christ, a Christian who goes astray, a congregation that can’t seem to get itself out of neutral. But love trusts in the God with whom all things are possible (Mark 10:27). It looks for hope—in every situation, and with every person. It patiently does what it can to admonish a lost sinner (Acts 2:40) or restore a wayward brother (2 Thessalonians 3:15). Paul was surely discouraged by the Corinthians’ shortcomings. Yet he begins and ends 1 Corinthians with hope (1:4-9; 16:13-14). He had hope for them because of his hope in Christ.

Love endures all things. Love simply cares too much to give up. When people are faithless, it clings to God who is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). When circumstances are bleak, it holds on to His promises. Love endures because it trusts in His love. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).