“Love bears all things.”
At first glance this phrase seems simple enough, until you try to explain it. Just try it. “Okay, fine” you may think, “It isn’t that hard. Love bears all things, it means that well, love umm.”
See? It’s not that straightforward. At least this was my experience. Now I’m not saying that everyone reading this will be baffled by what “love bears all things” means, you might already know the answer and wonder what this writer is going on about.
So back on track, did I figure out what it means? Yes, I did. Upon reading the passage on love in 1 Corinthian 13, I was a little confused. The passage sounded the same, but I couldn’t find the part where it says that love bears all things. A slight panic followed, until logic kicked in and I realised that it must come from another translation. When I found the translation that says “Love bears all things”, I was curious. Which caused me to look up what the other Bible versions of 1 Corinthians 13:7 say, and this is what I found:
King James Version:
“Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
“Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits.”
“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
For now my only intention is to focus on the first part of the verse. When I saw these verses side by side for the first time, they all seemed to say something different, but the thing is they’re not. To bear means to carry or to support. So basically these verses are saying the exact same thing, just in different ways.
We are supposed to love in a way that supports, or protects or to even more simply in a way that never gives up. Like the first time I saw the passage, I thought that this was pretty simple, but it’s not. People are hard to love. Never mind that, I AM HARD TO LOVE. I mess up so much, I get irritated so often and just want to be left alone while I am submerged in crankiness. This is only one example, trust me there are many more. Despite this, God did not give up on me. His love supports me through life’s struggles, and its joys. His love protects me. No matter how many times I wander off His path and get so hopelessly lost, He never gives up on me.
Now God is asking me to love everyone else in the same way that He loved me. I just have to point out how hard this is. I have to:
It seems easy to support a sibling when you are well rested and comfortable, but what about when you are exhausted and have a huge headache? Is it easy to love and support them then? How are we supposed to support people? The simplest way that I can put this is to be there for them. A friend or family member has to know that they can come to you for help, or just to talk whenever they need to, and you will do whatever you can to help. Sometimes this is as simple as phoning a friend when he or she is upset and listening to them.
How do you protect someone? We can’t keep people from getting hurt, unless we decide to bubble wrap both them and their hearts. Which is highly unpractical. But in a way we can be bubble wrap. We should protect someone by keeping the secrets that they tell us, or at least keeping our serious conversations confidential. We should also make sure that we don’t do anything to purposefully harm them. I know that I feel protected when I can go to a loved one and tell them what is bothering me and know that they care enough to keep it confidential.
- Never give up:
It also seems easy to think that you will never give up on a friend when he or she comes to Christ for the first time, but what about when they start dismissing God and going back to their old ways? Is it easy to never give up on someone who does not want your love or concern? The answer is no, it is not easy, but God did this and still does this for us so we have to do it anyway. But this being said, you should distance yourself from such a friend for the sake of your faith. To never give up does not mean that you should let them walk all over you. It doesn’t however stop you from praying for that friend and being willing to be there and show love and forgiveness if they decide to turn back to God.
Love is such a powerful thing, and we live in a world that does not have a lot of it. Sure, there are many instances of the clichéd “I love you” with lots of pink or red hearts. But this isn’t what love truly is. Love is hard work, it is support, protection and never giving up on someone. It is bearing another person’s burdens. None of us can ever deserve that kind of love, but we were given it anyway. So how can we shy away from supporting a friend, a family member, a stranger even?
The way that we behave, the way we love people is a reflection of our God. People generally look at how you act, not at what you say. Our love for other people is our testimony, so supporting a friend when they do not deserve it may cause them to look back and ask “Why did you do this for me?” which presents an opportunity to share the gospel.
So today I challenge you, love the people around you in way that bears all things. Support them, protect them and never give up on them.
~ Elri, guest author for The Heart of Teens