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1 Corinthians 13 Part 13: Love Bears All Things
1 Corinthians 13:7a; 1 Peter 4:8 Love makes us protectors of those we love and we do not become gossips or sarcastic comedians.
“Love…bears all things,”
1 Corinthians 13:7a NASB1995
Paul moves on from his lengthy list of what love is not to four succinct statements about how unselfish love behaves. The first of these is that Love bears all things. Understanding the root words for these four statements is essential to knowing what they mean. It is helpful to look at other translations to see the words that are used (bears or beareth is used in most popular translations).
NIV (New International Version): Love…it protects all things.
NASB20 (New American Standard Bible, 2020 edition): Love..it keeps every confidence.
The NASB20 is significantly different than the translation that I use (NASB1995) and is quite useful in helping us understand this phrase versus the upcoming “Love endures all things” (they are different).
According to the Blue Letter Bible, the Greek word used for “bears” is stego and is defined as follows:
deck, thatch, to cover
to protect or keep by covering, to preserve
to cover over with silence
to keep secret
to hide, conceal
of the errors and faults of others
by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear
Now that we’re through our word analysis, I found some excellent ways to describe this type of love that bears all things from Precept Austin:
Love doesn’t broadcast another's problems to everyone. Love doesn’t run down others with jokes, sarcasm or put-downs. Love defends the character of the other person as much as possible within the limits of truth. Love won’t lie about weaknesses, but neither will it deliberately expose and emphasize them. Love protects.
It doesn't broadcast bad news. It goes the second mile to protect another person's reputation. Love doesn't point out every flaw of the ones you love. Love doesn't criticize in public.
If we truly love others, we do not start a juicy confessions blog to air their weaknesses and faults. We don’t joke in public with friends or even strangers about our “dumb” husband or “clueless” wife. (Lord, please forgive me if I have ever done this with my loved ones). We treat them with respect and dignity and bring up issues of obedience to their beliefs in private. We don’t start a relationship like this couple in this cartoon and expect our marriage to last as long as the elderly couple in my main photo today:
Speaking of love bearing all, can you imagine if a Catholic priest violated his oath of confession? If a penitent has committed a crime or is planning to, they are usually told by the priest hearing the confession that full repentance and absolution includes self-reporting to secular authorities, but the the priest is bound by his oath and this bond is recognized by most civil authorities in the US. This Article has a good description of what the dilemmas are for priests.
As a Protestant I confess my sins directly to God and not through a second party, but sometimes a confession in public or to a small group is good for the soul (and I’m not talking about “confessing” using those rote liturgies and creeds that people drone through every week in some denominations. Nothing is confessed in those, IMHO). A public confession is my decision, though, and those who love me do not make that confession for me or behind my back. When I decided to stop posting political firebombs on social media, I confessed to my friends and followers that this was not loving and asked them to forgive me if I offended them; I did not confess for Steve, although he did the same thing and agreed with doing the confession.
Peter said it best in one of his epistles:
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 NASB1995
And these gems from Enduring Word commentaries from the inimitable Charles Spurgeon are icing on the cake:
“Love covers; that is, it never proclaims the errors of good men. There are busybodies abroad who never spy out a fault in a brother but they must hurry off to their next neighbour with the savoury news, and then they run up and down the street as though they had been elected common criers. It is by no means honorable to men or women to set up to be common informers. Yet I know some who are not half so eager to publish the gospel as to publish slander. Love stands in the presence of a fault, with a finger on her lip.” (Spurgeon)
“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.” (Spurgeon)
Let us all become oysters, internalizing what vexes and grieves us, creating a beautiful pearl of patience love, and forgiveness for those imperfect humans who are, through the grace of God, in our lives.
My next devotional examines 1 Corinthians 13:7b Love Believes all Things.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father - Please instill in me a patient pearl of love that honors and defends my loved ones and bears with them through their faults and errors, never belittling them or gossiping about them. This is just like the way that I would want to be treated. In Jesus name, Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Commentary on Enduring Word by David Guzik is used with written permission.