Summary: This is installment 12 in a series on I Corinthians 13, and deals with the fact that love "believes all things."
“The Trust of Love”
March 9, 2003
Love of Another Kind – I Corinthians 13
Trust. Who do you trust? Americans trust each other less and less each year, this according to Pamela Paxton, Associate Prof of Sociology at The Ohio State University, who studied the subject intensely. She said the recent rise in gated communities and use of private security guards may be one symptom of a growing lack of trust in the country. “A general lack of trust can be very damaging,” she said. According to CBS News poll, confidence in Big Business is lower in America than even during the Savings and Loan scandals of the 1980’s. We no longer trust the media, according to numerous polls. Most Americans apparently do trust our government when it comes to national security, but a majority do not trust the government when it comes to the economy. In a Harris poll done in December, people were asked about a number of entities whether or not they had “a great deal of confidence” in those entities. Only one of the fourteen entities ranked as having over 40% of the public as expressing “a great deal of confidence”—the military. Organized religion ranked well down the list—not that I’m particularly concerned, because I’m not a particular fan of organized religion—but it did rank ahead of organized labor, lawyers, and the media! There just isn’t a lot of trust around these days—I think most Americans are significantly disillusioned by a whole lot of elements of our society. It’s just hard to know who to trust these days!
Trust isn’t easy to come by; once it is lost, it isn’t easy to regain. Today’s theme is trust, and how love acts toward a fellow believer in the arena of trust. But of one thing we can be certain: “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus!”
I confess: I can be cynical. I fear that, the older I get, the more cynical I am becoming. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a good development! I’m honestly more cynical about politics than I’ve ever been. Some of the shenanigans that are being pulled in the U.S. Senate right now are just shameful, bold-faced lies, and I wonder if there will be enough courage to stand up to the lies; call me cynical, I doubt it! Seems to me more and more as though one of our major parties is made up mostly of liars and the other mostly of cowards (you can figure out on your own time which is which!). Yeah, when it comes to politics, I am cynical; there just aren’t many politicians of any party that I trust anymore. Then again, maybe that’s just me waking up to reality!
But I have to be careful as to how cynical I grow in general, how much I allow cynicism to gain a foothold in my life, because of what Paul says to us today. Stand with me as we read I Corinthians 13:1-7.
Paul is saying that love, as a general rule, is not suspicious or cynical. A good simple definition:
I. A Definition: Love gives the benefit of the doubt.
Calvin calls for a “kindness in judging of things”. This is especially important as it relates to evaluating people. Love considers a person innocent until proven otherwise. Hatred leaps to the conclusion that the worst-possible explanation is the correct one; it finds reason to mistrust, to see everything in the worst possible light. Love leaps to the conclusion that the person loved is in the right; love opts for the most favorable explanation. Love holds out hope that the person loved will be vindicated—while praying for the truth at the same time. Love welcomes the idea that a person is better than we thought, or more blameless than expected. Love roots for it all to be a big misunderstanding instead of for there to be sin. Love errs on the side of trust.
A spirit of mutual trust is what ought to pervade a Biblical community. This is an indispensable ingredient for unity. And when trust is broken, love’s instinct is to heal and restore. It is quick to give the benefit of the doubt to the person who evidences repentance and a true desire to change.
Contrast this with Job’s “friends”, who were ready to turn on him at a moment’s notice. When they saw the fix that Job was in, their first instinct was to assume the worst about him. They thought, like some seem to think today, that God was some kind of celestial vending machine God, whereby if you put the right thing in, you get blessings from God, but if you don’t, you get cursing. People thought that in Jesus’ day; remember the blind man whom Jesus healed, and they asked, "who sinned? This man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” It doesn’t work that way, but Job’s buds thought so, and since bad things were happening to Job, they jumped to the conclusion that Job was doing all kinds of sinful stuff. And so they condescendingly lectured him; that’s not love.