1 Corinthians 13:7
Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I. THE MULTITUDE OF LOVE'S DIFFICULTIES.
1. The difficulties of love are many, for the apostle sets forth the opposing armies as four times "all things." You will have to contend with "all things" —
(1) Within yourself. Nothing in your original nature will help you. God has put within you a new life, but the old life seeks to smother it.
(2) In the persons whom you are called upon to love. The best of the saints will try your patience; and as for the ungodly, everything in them will oppose the drawings of your love.
(3) In the world, for the world lieth in the wicked one, and all its forces run against love.
(4) In hell. The prince of the power of the air leads the van, and the host of fallen spirits eagerly follow him. Speak of crusades against the Paynim, what a crusade is this against hate and evil! Yet we shrink not from the fray.
2. Though love has many difficulties, it overcomes them all, and that four times.
(1) By patience, which "beareth all things." Let the injury be inflicted, we will forgive it.
(2) By faith: we trust in Christ, and look for Divine succour, and so we "believe all things."(3) By hope: we rest in expectation that gentleness will win, and that long-suffering will wear out malice.
(4) By perseverance: we abide faithful to our resolve to love, we will not be irritated into unkindness. Baffled often, love "endureth all things."
3. Love conquers on all four sides. Love makes a hollow square.
(1) Does God seem to smite love with afflictions? She "beareth all things."(2) Do her fellow Christians treat her ill? She believes everything that is good about them, and nothing that is injurious.
(3) Do the wicked rise against her? She hopes that yet they may be brought to a better mind.
(4) Do all her spiritual foes attack her with temptations and insinuations? She turneth patience against them, and by God's grace "endureth all things."
4. Love conquers in all stages of her life.
(1) She begins in conversion, and the powers of evil are at once aroused to seek her destruction. Then she "beareth all things."(2) She gathers strength, and "believing all things," confesses her faith, and her fellow Christians are confirmed.
(3) Advancing a little farther, though often disappointed, she "hopes all things."(4) And when infirmities and old age come, and she can do little else but sit still, she still perseveres, and accepts even death without complaining, for love "endureth all things."
II. THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE'S LABOUR. Her labours are fourfold.
1. In bearing all things. "Bear" might be translated "cover." The two ideas may be blended, however. Love bears all things in silence, concealing injuries as much as possible even from herself.
(1) Think of this word "covers."(a) In reference to the brethren. It is not honourable to men or women to be common informers. Love stands in the presence of a fault, with a finger on her lip. She imitates the pearl oyster. A. hurtful particle intrudes itself and, unable to eject the evil, it covers it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl. I would desire to keep ready for my fellow Christians a bath of silver, in which I could electroplate all their mistakes into occasions for love. As the dripping well covers with its own deposit all that is placed within its drip, so would love cover all within its range with love, thus turning even curses into blessings.
(b) As to "bearing all," apply the text mainly to trials in dealing with the unconverted. Ignore any repulsiveness that there may be in them. Bear with their ignorance of the gospel, their hardness of heart, and their jests. Would you see the perfection of the charity that beareth all things? Behold your Divine Lord. Oh, what He has covered!
2. In believing all things. In reference —
(1) To our fellow Christians. True love believes good of others as long as it can, and when it is forced to fear that wrong has been done, gives the accused the benefit of many a doubt. When the thing is too clear, love says, "Yes, but the friend must have been under very strong temptation," or else that the good man must have been mistaken. Love's blind eye is to the fault, and her bright is for the excellence. It is said that once, in the streets of Jerusalem, there lay a dead dog, and every one reviled it. One spoke of its currish breed, another of its lean and ugly form, etc.; but one passed by who said, "What white teeth it has!" Men said, as He went on His way, "That is Jesus of Nazareth." Surely it is ever our Lord's way to see good points wherever He can.
(2) To the unconverted. She does not believe that they are converted, but she believes that their conversion is possible, and expects that the word she speaks will be God's instrument of salvation. Do you want a model of this? Look to your Divine Master once again. He had no faith in man's goodness, for "He knew what was in man"; but He had great faith in what could be done in men and for them, and for the joy that was set before Him in this He endured the Cross, despising the shame.
3. In "hoping all things." Love never despairs.
(1) Hope all things about your brethren, and if you should be forced to see sad signs in them, yet, remember that some of the brightest believers have had their faults. Remember yourself, lest you also be tempted.
(2) As to the unconverted, you will never do anything with them unless you hope great things about them. When the good Samaritan found the poor man half dead, if he had not hoped about him he would never have poured in the oil and the wine, but would have left him there to die. Would you see a model of this? Our blessed Lord despaired of none, but went after those whom others would have given up.
4. In enduring all things. This is perhaps the hardest work of all, for many people can be affectionate and patient for a time, but the task is to hold on year after year. In reference —
(1) To our fellow Christians, love holds out under all rebuffs. If your brethren are angry without a cause, be sorry for them, but do not let them conquer you by driving you into a bad temper.
(2) To the unconverted. Our Lord said, "I will make you fishers of men." If you go out fishing for souls you will have to endure all things, for some whom you have been seeking for a long time will grow worse instead of better.
III. THE SOURCES OF LOVE'S ENERGY. Love's art is learned at no other school but at the feet of Jesus, where the Spirit of love doth rest on those who learn of Him. Love wins these victories, for —
1. It is her nature. The nature of love is self-sacrifice.
2. She has four companions. Tenderness that "beareth all things"; faith that "believeth all things"; hope and patience which "endureth all things."
3. She sucks her life from Christ. Love can bear, believe, hope, and endure because Christ has borne, believed, and hoped, and endured for her.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.