This is pastor Ken, thanks for joining me for my Monday Marriage Message…Loving in all things.
We are nearing the end of our series on the attributes of love according to 1 Corinthians 13. Today we focus on the qualities of love divulged in verse seven. [Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. As a marriage counselor I find this verse to be a real stumbling block for many people. Usually, by the time couples have decided their marriage is in need of help they aren’t sure they can bear one more thing, believe much of anything, most of their hope is gone and their endurance has run out or is about to. Because of those perceptions they take this verse to be proof that they are no longer in love and a reason to question if they ever really were. This is an unfortunate reading of this scripture and is based solely on their understanding of the English words on the page and the condition of their hurting hearts. As we have done for the entirety of this series I will also define the English according to Webster’s Dictionary, but as usual we will also look deeper into the original Greek text for a more complete and hope-filled understanding. Additionally, it is important to remember these are the attributes of Agape love (perfected love), not Eros (passionate love) or Phileo (friendship or brotherly) love.
Allow me to refer now to Webster’s to define the keywords Bear, Believe, Hope and Endure. According to the dictionary, the word bear, as in bears all things, means to support the weight of, or to move while holding up and supporting (something). The word believe as in believes all things, means to accept something as true, genuine, or real, or to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something. Hope, as in hopes all things means, to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true, or to expect with confidence. Finally, the definition of endure as in endures all things is to continue in the same state, or to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding. Using these definitions alone it is easy to see the difficulty those hurting couples have. However, when utilized as the defining characterizations of perfected love, even these words convey a love we all desire to be loved with. We all want a love that will support us in all things. We all need to be loved by someone convinced that we are good and don’t act out of evil motivation. All of us desire to be loved by someone who is perpetually hopeful that we can be better people. Certainly all of us need a love that won’t give up on us when the going gets tough. We all need to be loved with a love like this. So, why then do we become reluctant to offer the same kind of love? Is it that we are unable or simply unwilling to give what we do not feel we are receiving?
What clarification can the original text offer? Some for sure. For instance, I was interested to know that the Greek word we translate to bears [all things] is stegó [sta-go] and according to Strong’s Bible Dictionary it literally means, to place under roof, to cover-over (with a roof); (figuratively) to endure because it is shielded. In other words, love shields or covers from trouble, love protects at all times. In this instance bearing all things really means holding up the roof in all circumstances over the one being protected. Who doesn’t want a love like that? The word we translate into believes [all things] is pisteuei [pee-stu-o] in this context it means to assist in faith or belief. Simply put, this means that perfected love maintains the correct belief of how the relationship should behave regardless of the current circumstances and additionally it will help encourage its counterpart to maintain the same belief. The word we translate as hopes [all things] is elpizó [el-peez-oh] and means to expect, or to hope. There is a connotation that it is a hope in-birthed by God. This means that agape love recognizes that its hope is not in themselves or their spouse but rather is founded on the knowledge that God desires the best for them. Finally, the word we interpret endures [all things] is hupomenó [hoop-oh-men-a] and it means to stay behind, to await and to endure and in this context it means specifically to bear bravely and calmly. In other words, perfected love will be brave and steadfastly remain behind the one being loved regardless of what comes along. I don’t know anyone who would not like to know that they are loved with a love with that has that kind of backbone. When you add these qualities to the definitions above the result is the kind of love that truly will last a lifetime. I think one of the misconceptions we have sometimes that actually robs us of the ability to love as we should, is that love is a positive emotion. As I have pointed out throughout our journey through 1 Corinthians 13, love is not an emotion, love is actionable. Likewise, it does not always result in positive feelings. Though perfected love will not cause pain to be heaped upon another, neither will it avoid pain caused by another if that is what it is forced to accept, perfected love is far more concerned with others than itself.
So how do we begin to operate in our marriages in a perfected love? How do we learn to give the kind of love we have to admit is the brand we would like to receive? 1 Peter 4:8 tells us, Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. This statement is an interesting one. How is it that love covers a multitude of sins? Does this mean love will help us ignore that which we find offensive? Not really, what it does mean though as we have noted above, perfected love responds to offenses differently. It chooses in the moment to react in a truly loving manner which often allows the Holy Spirit to bring conviction where necessary so that the offensive behavior is addressed and changed. Forgiveness is integral to love. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Jesus said we can’t even experience the forgiveness of God if we don’t forgive one another. Forgiveness is a power move. It gives us the power to move as we ought to and be the person God wants us to be…even in situations we don’t necessarily want to be a part of. Romans 12:10 reminds us that perfected love is outward thinking rather than inward thinking. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Finally, looking to God as our example of perfected love…Psalm 100:5For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Questions to Answer:
Which of the attributes from today’s study of perfected love is easiest for you to demonstrate?
Which is most difficult?
Why is forgiveness a power move?
Do you see it that way or do you look at forgiveness as an act of weakness?
Actions to Take:
Talk with your spouse about which of the four qualities of agape love discussed today is counterintuitive in your way of thinking and why you see it that way.
Discuss together why you want to be loved in each of these four ways and yet find it difficult at times to demonstrate your love for each other in these same ways.
Pray that God will begin to make you more aware in the necessary moments of the correct responses to have so that you can be more consistent in illustrating perfected love.
So now, learning to give your spouse the kind of love you would like to receive from them, and in thankfulness that your God always loves you in that way…Go Be Awesome!