The Characteristics of Love: Part 4

It is not my intention to bore you or to rant endlessly about the topic we have been discussing over the last several weeks. Much to the contrary, I hope that these past articles have demonstrated how important love is and how much every single one of us needs to ensure that we have this virtue and that we practice it to the best of our abilities. Think about it this way, Jesus wouldn’t have been the Christ without love. The bible wouldn’t exist without love. The entire universe would be non-existent without love! Those statements are not at all hyperboles but instead they show how vital love is. It is the binding unit of all things and it is that which causes men to be kind and patient with one another. It is that which leads to peace and encouragement and we very much need those things in the church and in today’s society. So, without further ado, let’s continue to look at what love would have us do. 

1. Love bears all things

Now, Paul is not asking us as Christians in 1 Cor. 13:7 to condone and bear with everything including the very antithesis of good. The point being made by “love bears all things” is that one must bear with people or situations as long as it is within reason and law. There are offences which it is not proper or right for a man to conceal, or to suffer to pass unnoticed. The apostle Paul urges the brethren in Galatia to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). 

There are some things and some situations that require us to support and sustain in order that a successful outcome might come to fruition. How many of us have ever been is a position in which we needed others to bear with us or to support us even though we knew it was a tall order to ask? But that is the beauty of love. God’s people do not hesitate to do such a thing because God would never hesitate to come to our aid. May we strive to bear all things insofar as it is lawful and respectful. 

2. Love believes all things

Once again, the idea set forth does not indicate that we should train ourselves to be gullible or naive to believe everything including that which is evil and inappropriate. After all, we are told to be wise. The point made by the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor. 13:7 is that love will seek to give someone the benefit of the doubt as long as evidence does not show otherwise. The Christian should not be quick to judge someone’s motives or intentions as evil unless there is blatant evidence indicating otherwise. Love believes all things because it seeks to rejoice in the good of others while drawing them close to Christ. The person who is quick to label someone as evil or unjust may be wrong and even worse, they may prohibit them from coming to Christ. Insofar as we can, let us strive to give others the benefit of the doubt. 

3. Love hopes all things

I think most of us can appreciate a person who exhibits a personality of optimism. There is a difference, however, in blind optimism and educated optimism. That love would hope all things means that as long as there is some indication of life and a willingness to change, we must hope that all can and will turn out well. Jesus exhibited this personality with the 12 men He handpicked to join in His ministry. 

How many times in the gospels do we read of Jesus having to correct the twelve or re-instruct them in some way? Many people would have given up on such men after a couple days or perhaps a couple months but Jesus hoped all things because He loved them! And guess what? It paid off!

These men are seen throughout the book of Acts and the rest of the NT preaching and spreading the word of God thereby leading hundreds and hundreds to Christ. On the other hand Jesus showed that He was blindly optimistic when He rebuked the Pharisees. 

The disciples wanted to change but the Pharisees didn’t. Jesus did miracles in front of them and encouraged them patiently time and time again but to no avail. After a certain amount of time, we will learn not to cast our pearls before swine. As much as it depends upon us, may we have love that hopes all things.

4. Love endures all things

The final quality of love stated by Paul is that it endures all things. The idea here means to bear up, to sustain and to not complain. When we think about examples of people who lacked this quality in the bible, we may think about the Israelites who grumbled and complained perpetually when they had left Egypt after God had done everything for them. 

Rarely in the OT do we see the entire Israelite nation exemplified as a people who love God the way He loved them. God endured with His people but they would not even endure with one another. Paul tells the Philippians and also us that we must strive to do all things without grumbling and complaining (Phil. 2:14). While we may find that difficult to practice in many of life’s day-to-day situations, as followers of Christ we would be remiss if we did not try. 

It is a hard task indeed to endure with someone who wants to hurt us, insult us and take advantage. No one knew how this felt better than Jesus. So, may we look to Him and may we seek to endure all things.