WEEK 6: Love bears all things
1 Cor 13:7 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (NKJV)
When I read this verse in preparation for writing this devotion, I couldn’t help but think that this verse makes love sound a bit like a sponge that just soaks op everything from everybody around it. Does it feel like that to you too? I decided to look deeper into the Greek words for ‘bear’, ‘believe’, ‘hope’ and ‘endure’, in the context of this verse. Here’s what I found.
The word ‘bear’ here comes from the Greek word stego, which means to “cover or protect”, almost like the roof of a house, that provides quiet, strong protection. Interestingly, the Amplified Bible translates this into love bearing up under something. What to make of these varying translations? I believe we need to search these translations for a description of God’s character, as He is Love, after all. In my experience God certainly protects us against evil and also bears us up in difficult times. Therefore, I think, let’s rejoice in these truths that the text shares with us about Jehovah-shammah, our God that protects us.
The word ‘believe’ comes from the Greek word pisteuo, which has different meanings in different contexts. It can mean “to have confidence”, or “to confide in someone”; “to be persuaded of the truth”; “to have an inner conviction”; “to trust in Jesus Christ who can aid us in anything”; and “to entrust someone with something”. If we add the rest of the phrase, “all things” to this, then it becomes tricky. The Amplified Bible helps us with the translation: “it believes the best of every person”, which makes sense. Maybe it could also mean that, in love, we entrust all things to Jesus Christ, or even that in all things, we have confidence in and confide in Jesus Christ. I think that this verse implies of God’s character that He is trustworthy, but also that He wants to trust us. Now that reciprocal trust speaks of a God that values relationship!
In the Amplified Bible, the next phrase goes: “love’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances”. Wow! That sound like a strong love! But, hope in what is fadeless? In Jesus, right? But, in what, in Jesus? And, to me that is where the essence of this phrase lies: in the hope or waiting for salvation with joy and confidence – derived from the Greek word elpizo. So, if we hope in Jesus Christ’s salvation in every circumstance, then we are in fact cultivating an eternal focus, not so? We are then mindful of the fact that Jesus Christ is Jehovah-jireh, our “Deliverer and Salvation”. That is an edifying thought, don’t you agree?
We definitely need that edification in our faith journeys, because it is that strengthening that helps us to endure everything without weakening (Amplified Bible). The Greek word for endure is hupomeno, which means “to remain, not flee, bear bravely and calmly ill treatments”. When I think of Jesus’ endurance on His via dolorosa, I remember from Scripture how He did not flee, but remained on ‘The Way’, bravely, knowing His purpose and destiny. It makes me reflect on times in my life when I have shunned hardship or retaliated against being ill-treated. Let us grab faith and keep hope, while enduring like ‘Love’ did and forever will.