Last week we dug into the first two verses of God's high standard of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, and were encouraged by the realization that each of these incredible characteristics of love give us a glimpse into how great is our God because as 1 John 4:8 points out, God is not only characterized by love, but He is the very definition of love, for "God is love."
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LOVE DOES NOT DELIGHT IN EVIL BUT REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH
Pritchard notes, Love is never glad to hear bad news about another person. Love never says, "Well, they finally got what they deserved." Love is never happy to hear that a brother or sister fell into sin. Love does not enjoy passing along bad news. This certainly goes against the grain of modern life. We all know that "Bad news sells" and that good news goes on page 75. That's why they put those supermarket tabloids right by the checkout counter. We all want to hear the latest juicy gossip about our favorite celebrities.
True love isn't like that. It turns away from cheap gossip and unsubstantiated rumors. And even when the rumor turns out to be true, love takes no pleasure in the misfortunes of others.
Cole explains this attribute writing that...
There is a fine balance to love. Although love is kind and overlooks the faults of others, it does not compromise the truth or take a soft view of sin. To allow another person to go on in sin, whether it is known sin or a blind spot, is not to seek his best; it is not love. Love will sensitively confront and correct precisely be-cause it cares deeply and knows that sin destroys. Love rejoices with the truth. Love gets excited when it hears of spiritual victories. Love encourages by expressing joy over little evidences of growth. John, the apostle of love, wrote, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 4). (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 PDF)
4 THINGS LOVE ALWAYS DOES
1. It always protects
2. always trusts
3. always hopes
4. always perseveres
Precept Austin observes, "Note that all four of the main verbs in this verse are present tense indicating these attitudes/actions are to be one's lifestyle, and thus represent a continuous choice we must make. Note however that to make such a choice is impossible for our fallen nature inherited from Adam, but only Him-possible , that is by the strengthening and enablement of Holy Spirit Who indwells every believer. Believers can love only ''according to His power which mightily works within us''. Amen!"
LOVE ALWAYS PROTECTS
Like the covering of a building, love always covers us. 1 Peter 4:8 declares that "love covers a multitude of sins." Spurgeon shares an amazing illustration about how love does this. I'll never look at an oyster the same way again. Incredible!
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He says, “I would, my brothers and sisters, that we could all imitate the pearl oyster. A hurtful particle intrudes itself into its shell, and this vexes and grieves it. It cannot eject the evil, and what does it do but cover it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl. Oh, that we could do so with the provocations we receive from our fellow Christians, so that pearls of patience, gentleness, long-suffering, and forgiveness might be bred within us by that which has harmed us.”
F F Bruce observed
Love covers unworthy things rather than bringing them to the light and magnifying them. It puts up with everything. It is always eager to believe the best." (Bruce, F. F. 1 and 2 Corinthians. New Century Bible Series. 1971)
John MacArthur explains "Love always protects."
basically means to cover or to support and therefore to protect. Love bears all things by protecting others from exposure, ridicule, or harm. Genuine love does not gossip or listen to gossip. Even when a sin is certain, love tries to correct it with the least possible hurt and harm to the guilty person. Love never protects sin but is anxious to protect the sinner. Fallen human nature has the opposite inclination. There is perverse pleasure in exposing someone’s faults and failures. As already mentioned, that is what makes gossip appealing. The Corinthians cared little for the feelings or welfare of fellow believers. It was every person for himself. Like the Pharisees, they paid little attention to others, except when those others were failing or sinning. Man’s depravity causes him to rejoice in the depravity of others. It is that depraved pleasure that sells magazines and newspapers that cater to exposes, “true confessions,” and the like. It is the same sort of pleasure that makes children tattle on brothers and sisters. Whether to feel self–righteous by exposing another’s sin or to enjoy that sin vicariously, we all are tempted to take a certain kind of pleasure in the sins of others. Love has no part in that. It does not expose or exploit, gloat or condemn. It bears; it does not bare. (MacArthur, J: 1Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)
LOVE ALWAYS TRUSTS
David Guzik explains...
"love sees the best in others or gives the other person the benefit of the doubt, choosing to believe the best about them not the worst!"
“Paul is not saying that love is gullible and believes everything and does not exercise qualities such as wisdom and discernment. What he is saying is that love will believe well of others unless convinced otherwise. It seeks to put the best possible construction on another's words, actions, etc.”
LOVE ALWAYS HOPES
David Guzik puts it this way...
"Love has a confidence in the future, not a pessimism. When hurt, it does not say, “It will be this way for ever, and even get worse.” It hopes for the best, and it hopes in God."
Vine explains the phrase love hopes all things as
"love delights to entertain the best expectations. If there is absence of anything to prompt them, the hope is there; if conditions are adverse, love still hopes for the best. Even if the hope meets with repeated disappointment, love waits on expectantly and perseveringly. This is part of love’s endurance." (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson or Logos)
LOVE ALWAYS PERSEVERES
David Guzik says it beautifully...
"Most of us can bear all things, and believe all things, and hope all things, but only for a while! The greatness of agape love is it keeps on bearing, believing, and hoping. It doesn’t give up."
Barnes explains that agape love...
Bears up under, sustains, and does not murmur. Bears up under all persecutions at the hand of man; all efforts to injure the person, property, or reputation; and bears all that may be laid upon us in the providence and by the direct agency of God. Job 13:15. This requires us to understand it principally of our treatment at the hands of our fellow-men. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
Thiselton writes that this...
refers to an endurance of setbacks and rebuffs which never gives up on people, whatever they do. (Thiselton, A. C. The First Epistle to the Corinthians : A Commentary on the Greek Text. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W. B. Eerdmans)
Robertson and Plummer write that endures all things...
is that cheerful and loyal fortitude which, having done all without apparent success, still stands and endures, whether the ingratitude of friends or the persecution of foes. (Robertson, A., & Plummer, A. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. New York: C. Scribner's Sons. 1911)
1 CORINTHIANS 13 OUR STANDARD FOR LOVE
Chafin summarizes our high calling to love others as Christ loves us....
When I hold this list of the characteristics of love up before my life like a mirror, I am immediately shaken by the many ways in which I fall short of the perfect love that Christ modeled for me. But I also know that nothing will be more important to my life than letting God perfect the gift of love in me, not in some abstract theological way but by helping me learn to truly love every person as God loves me. These fifteen characteristics of God’s kind of love would make a good outline for prayer, meditation, and study as we attempt to live the Christian life. (Chafin, K. L., & Ogilvie, L. J. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 30:1,2 Corinthians. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc)
Question for you: How can you demonstrate God's love to someone today?
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