Summary: Exposition, 4 of 5, in the series through 1 Cor 13 about biblical love
Text: 1 Corinthians 13:7 Title: The Hallmarks of Love 4 Date/Place: LSCC, 3/13/05, AM
A. Opening illustration: A little boy declared that he loved his mother “with all his strength.” He was asked to explain what he meant by “with all his strength.” He said: “Well, I’ll tell you. You see, we live on the fourth floor of this tenement; and there’s no elevator, and the coal is kept down in the basement. Mother is busy all the time, and she isn’t very strong; so I see to it that the coal hold is never empty. I lug the coal up four flights of stairs all by myself. And it’s a pretty big hold. It takes all my strength to get it up here. Now, isn’t that loving my mother with all my strength?” It’s a wise groom who has to be dragged to the altar. He knows what love is. It’s death. If lovers don’t know this, they are headed for trouble. Never will you have your way again. You can’t be happy if this other person isn’t. No matter who wins the argument, you lose. Always. The sooner you learn this the better off you will be. Song 8:7: Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.
B. Background to passage: This is Paul’s hyperbolic poetic conclusion to his list of defining qualities of Christian love. A volitional, action oriented love that is unconditional, self-sacrificing, and highly valuing it’s object. They all end with all things, showing their comprehensiveness. But this is also a little bit of a hyperbole, because we know that love does not tolerate sin. All things is this sense means all things that are tolerable to the Lord, and in alignment with His righteousness. 2 present, 2 future. Remember love is an action, and things that don’t look like this are not, maybe never were love. These apply to committed, covenant relationships. And these may not be used to blackmail or force others to “love” you. Please also remember that grace is there for our failures.
A. Love bears all things
1. This word means to cover in order to protect. Love always looks for the best way to protect those it loves. Even in correction, rebuke, or admonition, it seeks to inflict the least amount of pain absolutely necessary. It would rather conceal what is wrong in another, rather than broadcasting it before the world. This does not mean that love ignores wrong, but that it deals with it in the kindest way possible. Love does not protect the sin, but protects the sinner. It feels the pain of those it loves, and helps carry the burden. In this sense it bears all things. The motivation for bearing all things is restoration. Pro 10:12, 1 Pet 4:8, Rom 3:25-26
2. Illustration: the story of the young lady who climbed to the top of the bell tower and hung on the clapper, so that it would not ring. Let’s say that your child or spouse is doing something that must be corrected, you take them aside…
3. Fathers, you are to protect your children from harm, even in correction. Protect your wives emotionally. When there are problems in the house, deal with the in the house. Maybe with the help of the appropriate people. This is also not saying that that we don’t punish our children when they err, but that we don’t write the book about their wrongs until they are old enough to laugh about it. Do you bear the wrongs, personalities, failures, difficulties of other church members, covering them with love? When the church disciplines a member, we don’t go and spread it everywhere what they have done. No billboards announcing sin. Talk about God’s forbearance. Sin confessed is covered, sin denied is exposed.
B. Love believes all things
1. Love is not suspicious or cynical. If there is any doubt as to a person’s intentions, love always opt for the more favorable possibility until it knows otherwise. This doesn’t mean that love is gullible, but that it chooses to believe innocence, until guilt is proven. And it wants the best to be true. It desires to believe the best about a person or situation. It has an optimistic outlook on life in general, people in particular. When in doubt, love errs on the side of caution. Gal 6:1
2. Illustration: Edward telling Martha about the two rules for communication in relationship. Sometimes we say, “What did you expect from so and so?” My father was the complete opposite of this, he suspected everyone.
3. You should give people the benefit of the doubt. It does not mean to be a door mat. Err on the side of caution, not of judgment. Love should compel us not to jump to conclusions too early. Do you jump to conclusions about others in church? Are you always examining motives and suspecting the worst. Spouses are guilty of this quite often. They think they know each other so well, that they don’t allow for the reality that God is continually working on their spouse. We are bad about this for in-laws too. Are you optimistic about people? About life? Another thought is are you optimistic about God? A way that we show our love to Him is that we trust, even if we must ask Him to help our unbelief.