“What Does Love Do?”

Categories: Love

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


In 1 Cor. 13:7 the apostle reflects on four things that love does. The first thing that love does is it “bears all things.” The Greek word for “bear” means to cover up, not in a secretive, lying way but in a protective way. The same verb is used of roofing a structure. Love shelters all that is underneath it like an umbrella keeps you out of the rain.


This is precisely how Peter uses the word when he says, “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). Love protects other people from harm. I really hate it when I hear a wife criticize her husband in public; or a husband who allows his wife to be ridiculed right in front of him; or a Christian who permits his brother to be slandered. Love does not allow this.

The second thing that love does is it “believes all things.” Of course, Paul cannot mean that love will believe a lie because love “rejoices with truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). He is teaching us that love is trusting and not suspicious. Love always believes the best about people. To put it another way, love gives people the benefit of the doubt. This is especially hard because we have been jaded by letdowns, disappointments and a host of other negative experiences. As a result we tend to treat others by the principle of “guilty until proven innocent.” But love is “patient” while it waits for the evidence to surface and in the meantime it “believes all things.”

People tend to become what you believe them to be. How you treat people has an effect on their character. For example, if you are too hard on your son he will grow up believing he will never live up to your expectations. The father’s treatment of his son projects itself onto the behavior of the child. A father who loves his son will believe in him and encourage him. Sometimes all Simon needs to hear from his dad when he is struggling with something is, “You can do it. I know you can. Now try it again.” There is power in how we think and treat others. Let us love others by believing the best about them and not the worst.


The third thing that love does is it “hopes all things.” To put it plainly, love is optimistic about the future. Biblical hope is not mere unreasoning optimism but rather a confident expectation of what we know is possible. Love that hopes all things never gives up on people even when everyone might have already. Love refuses to take failure as final, either in oneself or in someone else. Jesus is in the business of making success stories out of failures. Look at Peter. Jesus knew he would fail but He loved him and love “hopes all things.” (cf. Lk. 22:31-34, 61-62; Jn. 21:15-17)


This attitude of never giving up on one another is key to our relationship with each other in God’s church. Love is a labor of hope. If we love one another we will never give up helping each other get to heaven. We do all this in spite of our shortcomings.


The fourth thing that love does is it “endures all things.” To endure means to remain behind or hold your ground. It is a military term that means to hold your position at all costs. Even if the battle is lost the soldier is to keep on fighting to the bitter end. So then, we might say that love never backs down. It holds fast to its object. Even in the face of rejection love will never stop loving.


Is this not how God loves us? (Rom. 5:6-10) It is His love for us that motivates us to hold onto Jesus no matter what (Rom. 5:3-5). We see Jesus, surrounded by sinners, the sky black with darkness at midday, lonely, broken, weak and nailed to a cross by the very ones He came to save. And yet He says, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). He never stopped loving even though His love was rejected. His love endured all things because it looked beyond the present to the hope of what might be in the future. William Barclay called God’s love for mankind “unconquerable.” Now, as recipients of this kind of love we are charged to love each other the same way.



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