What does “bear all things” mean when Paul was talking about loving others from the love chapter? Am I supposed to permit or endure others to do what they want to do with me? Is this a “grin and bear it” theology of love? When preachers quote the “love chapter” at weddings, it sounds nice, but what about when the honeymoon is over and the marriage is hard?
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You know the love chapter from 1 Corinthians 13, right?
- Love is patient.
- Love is kind.
- Love does not envy.
- Love does not boast.
- Love is not arrogant.
- Love is not rude.
- Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
- Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:5-8).
Love Is All You Need
- Wait a cotton pick’in minute; my husband is a jerk. What am I do?
- My wife is a victimized nag. What do I do?
- I’ve got you both beat. My so-called Christian coworker is such a knucklehead. What am I to do?
Are you saying all we need is love? Are we called to grin and bear it because Paul told the Corinthians that they are to “bear all things?
These are great questions, and the answer to all of them is a resounding “No!” First of all, the letter to the Corinthians is a “corrective letter.” Paul was addressing their sin issues. He was not ignoring their sin.
In the thirteenth chapter, he was not commending them for their great love, but rebuking them because they were not modeling the love of Christ as he laid out for them. You have to be careful that you don’t confuse or misapply what Paul was doing. He was telling them that love bears all things as he was lovingly confronting them. There is no question about his loving confrontation of the Corinthians, especially in chapters 12-14.
It is never loving to sit by and watch someone sin. Let me illustrate in an analogous way. Several years ago, our son dropped a weightlifting disc on his big toe. He screamed bloody murder as the end of his toe was partially torn.
At that moment, there was nothing more important in our home than grabbing him up in my arms and holding him while bringing immediate medical attention to his big toe. Nobody was going to deter us from serving our boy because he was physically suffering.
From a Christian worldview, it would be unloving to allow someone to continue to hurt themselves (and others) by sinning when you can do something about it. Paul did not shrink back from correcting a wayward brother, or in this case, a disobedient church. He perfectly modeled love.
Love Doesn’t Mock
If sin needs your confrontation, you will mock the gospel if you don’t do anything about it. Christ died on the cross for the evil that is in humanity. Because of His death, there is the possibility of the forgiveness of sin. For the first time in the history of humanity, there is a solution to our sin.
Don’t you think it would be loving to bring an erring brother to the only person who can freely pardon, cleanse, forgive, and restore him to God?
From our backyard, I can see our local hospital. We live that close. When our son injured his toe, I did not hesitate to take him there. The most loving thing we could do for him in that crucial time was finding help. Off to the hospital, we went.
Bearing All Things
To bear all things means that true agape love in your heart and life will enable you to bear up under the weight of whatever is going on in your life. It does not mean you are supposed to tolerate (bear) other people’s sins. That makes no sense.
It would contradict the Word of God while marginalizing the gospel to see someone living in sin and not do anything about it. A person who has been rightly affected by the gospel can live out this kind of love. But to extract the “love chapter” from its context and place it in a wedding ceremony has probably done a disservice to the church. Paul did not believe or practice that kind of sentimental love.
The love that he believed, modeled, and taught was the same that motivated a holy God to execute His Son on a cruel tree. When that kind of love rivets your soul, you are not only equipped to hold a crying son in your arms, but you’re ready and motivated to bring corrective love to an erring brother.
Call to Action
- As you reflect upon this article, how have your thoughts about love changed?
- Is there someone you need to correct? What hinders you from bringing corrective love to them?
- If you’re in a situation where someone will harm you, it would be unwise to confront them. But what would hinder you from seeking help from others so they can do the confronting?
- God will give you the grace to bear up under the evil of others, but there should be a termination point to their sinful ways.You must address your role in your sphere of influence so you can cooperate with the Lord in the redemption and sanctification of others?