Love Bears All Things, Believes All Things, Hopes All Things, Endures All Things
There’s a lot of mystery here in 1 Corinthians 13:7. How can love do these things with respect to all things! The challenges with understanding these aspects of Christlike love remind us of a very important truth. The love of Jesus is transcendent (Ephesians 3:17-18)! This passage speaks not of a human love improved upon, but speaks of the nature of that kind of love which is true of God and comes only from Him. The call of this passage is not to try harder to be better when it comes to loving others in a Christ-like manner, the call is to walk by the Spirit, fixing our eyes on Jesus, so His love might flow through us.
Recall the simple statement of 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.” If we wonder as to the nature of Christlike love we should direct our thoughts cross-ward! What does it mean that “love bears all things?” There’s no better example of this, than what we see in Jesus, who “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4). He did that in a salvific way, which is something we can never do. We love like Jesus when we earnestly relate to others, bearing with their faults and imperfections according to a “I care about you” way of thinking (Galatians 6:2). Always keeping in mind that the other person is “one for whom Christ died” (Romans 14:15).
Love believes all things. That’s not to say love is naïve, or that it exercises no discernment (Philippians 1:9)! What do we find in the example of Jesus? Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He lovingly believed in all things when there was no earthly reason to believe at all. Amidst unimaginable sufferings, in bearing our sins, He exercised faith when He nevertheless cried out to the Father: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46)? Even at the point of death, when He experienced the Father’s wrath for sin in divine judgment, Jesus still trusted in the Father’s love (1 Peter 2:23). It is as Phil Ryken has noted: “When we see Jesus on the cross, we see a man showing us how to believe all things. What enabled him to believe all things was love: love for his Father and love for us.” Amidst our own hardships, we love like Jesus when we live in subjection to the Father, deciding to love even when it involves sacrifice.
Love hopes all things. Biblical hope is not a hoping in hope kind of thing, but a confident expectation regarding some unseen future reality. That scene at the cross, where we, God’s creatures, mocked our creator, is arguably the most dramatic display in history of the extent of man’s hopelessness. Yet Jesus still hoped all things. From the cross He promised paradise to the penitent thief! When the time came, He cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46)! We lovingly hope all things according to Jesus’ example when we similarly relate to others, mindful that God is fully capable of working in their lives for good, even when their situation seems hopeless.
Love endures all things. It was a long journey that led Jesus’ to the cross, a journey full of trials, suffering and loss. Along the way, step by step, He lovingly subjected Himself to the Father, until His work was done. Then from the cross, having endured it all, He said those three glorious words, “It is finished” (John 19:30)! Hebrews 12:3 reminds us to “consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself.” That’s the way love works, as Alexander Strauch has noted, “Love is strong and tenacious: ‘No hardship or rebuff ever makes love cease to be love.’ Love lasts; it holds out; it perseveres in the face of opposition, unkindness, and difficulties; it never gives up.”
Aware of what Jesus can do, God’s kind of love is hopeful and optimistic with respect to others. Confronted by failures, challenges, opposition and doubts, it does not surrender to the hopelessness which is so pervasive in our world. It respects others and genuinely cares about them, it trusts them to God, it prayerfully yearns for God’s best for them, it forgives and endures through failures and setbacks. It walks its own difficult journey until what is perfect in Jesus, is one day perfected by the Spirit in us. That’s all a part of what it means to love like Jesus!
We Love Like Jesus When we Relate to Others with a Spirit-borne Optimism in What God Can Do
Lord Jesus. How wonderful Your work in our lives! We were guilty, vile and helpless in our sins. But You bore our sins and set us free. Sin had put us in a helpless state. But You rescued us from the pit of our despair and granted us Your peace. We were without You and without hope in this world, but You saved us and opened our eyes to the hope laid up for us in heaven. Nothing can work now to separate us from Your love. We are eternally grateful! You’ve so wonderfully loved us, may we love others just as You have loved us. Grant us eyes to see them as You do. Fill our hearts with a Spirit-borne optimism and compassion, borne out of Your love, that we might be always wanting and working for Your best in their lives. Amen.