Love is…- Part 4
What Love Always Does
‘[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’1 Corinthians 13:7
‘A man may be a good doctor without loving his patients; a good lawyer without loving his clients; a good geologist without loving science; but he cannot be a good Christian without love.’DL Moody
We’ve been looking in recent weeks at the preeminent Christian virtue that is love. 1 Corinthians 13 has been our guide in showing us what love is (patient and kind) and what love isn’t.
Now we think about what love always does.
‘[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’
Love always protects
The word translated ‘protect’ means to ‘cover’ or to ‘conceal’ as a roof would cover from the rain, or a loving parent would hide his or her child from harm.
Many commentators also point to love’s willingness to ‘conceal’ the sins of those we love by not shouting them from the rooftops. While we don’t sweep sin under the carpet, or pretend it doesn’t matter, there are certainly times when the loving thing to do is to refuse to remember the wrongs of those we love for their good. That is simply to say, love forgives.
‘Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.’1 Peter 4:8
Love always trusts
This is not an instruction to be naïve. We are not required to fall for every social-media scam which would have our bank accounts emptied in a moment. Far less for us to believe every false teaching and teacher promulgating lies under the banner of Christian truth.
The apostle Paul reminds the Corinthian believers that love is always disposed to give people the benefit of the doubt. To strive to believe the best of each other. To always trust is to always commit ourselves to each other, to give ourselves to each other. Christians who have an inherent distrust of their brothers and sisters will struggle to build healthy loving Christian relationships. And the Church can only be impoverished by such mistrust and suspicion.
Love always hopes
Love always hopes. It hopes for the best for the one it loves. And it hopes for the best from the one it loves. I think of looking at Katie and Grace as new-born babies with all their lives ahead of them. I hoped they would have the best lives they could have, but also that they would become the very best people they could be. This is what we ought to hope for all the people we are called to love in Christ. And so Christian hope is an active thing, my hopes for the girls were saturated in prayer, and I am working, albeit clumsily, in the grace of God to see those hopes fulfilled!
‘Always hopes is the forward look. This is not an unreasoning optimism, which fails to take account of reality. It is rather a refusal to take failure as final. It is the confidence that looks to ultimate triumph by the grace of God.’Leon Morris
Love always perseveres
Paul does not have a naïve picture of love. Loving other people is hard at times. It is not always the path of least resistance and the Corinthian Christians were struggling to press on in love. Fast forward two thousand years and we’re still finding it hard to press on in love. Love is seen as something which we may feel for a person today, and yet gradually ‘fall out of’ over time. Paul presents us with a stronger and more noble view of love. Love always perseveres, always presses on, never surrenders the fight and in the end -verse 13- remains.
‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’1 Corinthians 13:13
The supreme example of this kind of love is, of course, Jesus. He is the one who made a way for us to be protected from the righteous wrath of God by trusting himself into the hands of sinners. He knew these sinful people would reject him and nail him to the cross, yet he surrendered his life in love. He desires for his people to experience the best life we can live and to and to be the best people we can be. He is the first and the last, the same yesterday today and forever. When we are faithless, he is faithful. And so, secure in Christ and in his love, we are free to love others in his name.
Yours in His service,