LOVE BEARETH ALL THINGS (1 CORINTHIANS 13:4)
Dear Members in Christ,
Love beareth all things (1 Corinthians 13:4)
In 1 Corinthians 13:3, Paul the Apostle taught the Corinthians that the motive for service and giving love is an underlying biblical principle that guides the Christian’s service in church and interaction with others. Whether it is the act of service within the context of the church or interaction with the people of the world, or whether it is in fellowship with the saints within the church as Christians, we are guided by the Bible’s exhortation to do so with love. Christians are to deal according to the principle of love, the King James translate it as “charity”. The Apostle Paul wrote at length to the Corinthian Christians about love in these verses,
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
In this passage, the Apostle Paul speaks of “charity” which is “agape” a word we are familiar with. In this article, we will focus on the first clause, “Charity suffereth long and is kind”. Love is a quality that influences the person who possesses it. It endows him or her with kindness, and a spirit of longsuffering under the most trying circumstances.
A. The Corinthian spirit of contention and lack of love and longsuffering
The Corinthian Christians were known for their contentious ways and their lack of love. The Apostle Paul had to deal with various conflicts within the church early in his epistle. In 1 Corinthians 1:11, “For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.”
There was an obvious lack of love and kindness in their dealings with each other. The atmosphere in Corinth was thick with contention in many ways. Even in their service in the church and the exercise of spiritual gifts, the Corinthians will find a way to get into a conflict with one another.
The Apostle Paul alluded to this in 1 Corinthians 12:21 “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” It does appear that the Corinthians could not stand each other. They were unable to serve in unity of the spirit. One can imagine how a more gifted Corinthian would be impatient with others who are less gifted and thus say, “I have no need of you.” Or perhaps another Corinthian who is self-willed and serving with great pride might be tempted to be impatient with another who differs in opinion, and say, “I have no need of you.” All these kinds of contentions and conflict harm the ministry of the Gospel, and thus the Apostle Paul addresses the Corinthians by dealing with the crux of the matter. That is the quality of love, true agape love.
B. The biblical pattern of love demonstrated by a longsuffering spirit
It is in this tone that the Apostle teaches the Corinthians, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind.” Dearly beloved, the Bible shows us the way in expressing love toward others. The very first expression of love the Bible verse teaches is in showing longsuffering and kindness towards others. It is easy to express the outward show of love. Some do it by flowery words, some by showering gifts, and as Paul puts it in hyperbole in 1 Corinthians 13:3, “to give my body to be burned”. The expression of love can be best seen in a long-suffering spirit. A loving spirit is seen in its bearer that “suffereth long.”
The Bible teaches us that God is longsuffering in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to teach with longsuffering in preaching and teaching the word, even in “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:2.
Indeed, love suffers long. God has given us a pattern to show this kind of love. Sometimes, our impatience rise when we see others who are ignorant, those less able, or some who are less willing. Let us remember the words of the Bible, “Love suffereth long.”
Instead of impatience and harsh words, let us learn to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. Patient and longsuffering, even to the worst of sinners. For truly, we do so because our God is Love and He has shown us the pattern of His love, for He is “longsuffering to us-ward”. And therefore, we receive from God His grace, and mercy, in the giving of His only begotten Son. Beloved, let us be like our Lord Jesus Christ in love, in word, and deed. May God be glorified.
In His Service,
Rev. Lim Seh Beng, Pastor