Summary: As we come to the end of our series on love we learn that true love 'goes the distance.' Love does not have limits, nor will it ever end. So how do you get this love flowing through your life? We also learn that a person who wants to mature in their faith
Growing up in a world that doesn’t know God, doesn’t understand God, doesn’t act like God and doesn’t want anything to do with God, it is not surprising that the default value for humanity is “every man for himself.” Get what you deserve and make sure no one else gets there first, and if you have to claw your way over everyone else’s dead body to get there you will do what it takes! Now that’s an exaggeration, sort of, but getting what we want is of primary importance to the detriment of everything and everyone else. That is not the way of true love.
Now I’m not saying that true love makes it so we never care for ourselves or have needs or fulfill them. In fact, the needs that we experience as humans are real and God given. It is not needs that are evil, it is when we fulfill those needs outside of the way God intended.
For example, God knows we need intimacy so He created marriage. When we attempt to fulfill that need outside of marriage it seems to work, but it is the wrong way to fill that need and we end up not achieving what we needed, really, and achieving what we don’t really want. We have a need for security. Instead of filling that need by trusting in the Father, we amass worldly goods for ourselves so we inoculate ourselves against our true need and we abandon God, never having the real need for security from Him fulfilled.
True love, the true fulfillment of God’s Law, God’s character, is to “love others AS you love yourself.” But the world’s definition of love is to love others AFTER you have loved yourself (which means to get whatever you want and leave the left overs to those who respond to your feelings of affection for them).
We’ve seen that true love is “actionable empathy”—an attitude of caring for another’s welfare, and acting redemptively in their life no matter their response.
In the final four love words I would sum them up as “love goes the distance.” True love sees past our needs for reciprocity and past our own pride, and into the heart of God which desires for all to be restored. The final love words bring that character to the forefront.
Bears all things (protects others) – Humiliates others
The word used here in the Greek is stego and it means “to cover.” The idea is not covering up sin, but protecting our brothers and sisters.
Galatians 6:2- 3Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ESV
Do you find yourself embarrassing others? Even to the point of humiliation? Are you prone to passing on tidbits on someone else’s business, especially those embarrassing stories? That’s the opposite of “bearing all things”.
Instead we should go out of our way to make sure that others are comfortable, trusted, loved, cared for, and protected.
Believes all things (thinks the best) – Always thinks the worst
Believing all things does not mean we are gullible. It means we literally think the best of people and not the worst. Are you automatically suspicious of others? When someone says something do you automatically assume the worst? A person walking in love will have to have a bad intent exhibited, not assumed.
Hopes all things (always looking forward) – Always looking back
Are you a person that is always living in the failures of the past or in the promise of the future?
Lamentations 3:22-24 22 Because of the Lord's faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! 24 I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 For I know the plans I have for you"—this is the Lord's declaration—"plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. �
Don’t get me wrong, we need to learn from our past mistakes, but we always need to remember that “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 )
And: Philippians 2:13-14 For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.
How is this love? Love looks towards the future and God’s work because remember, love is thinking and acting redemptively in the lives of others.
Endures all things (always moving forward) – Always in danger of falling away