Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Love - Part 12: Believes All Things

Love . . . believes all things
1 Corinthians 13:7

Of all the aspects of love, this one seems that it would be the one to be misunderstood and misapplied the most. In that, one could take it as meaning to be tolerant and accepting of sin, false doctrine, and any other manner of thing that is contrary to God’s Word. But as in Scripture the Lord clearly delineates between what a follower of Christ should believe and what they should not, we can understand that this is not the context of this verse. 

Proverbs 14:15 further supports this as it states that “The naïve believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps.” We are to not be naïve, but to be sensible, examining everything to see if it is in accordance with God’s Word (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, 2 Corinthians 13:4, 1 John 4:1, 1 Corinthians 11:28). 

This brings us to the question of “what then does it mean to believe all things?” Is all not really all?

First, let us do a little breakdown on the words used in this phrase:

--“Believes” - Greek word ‘Pisteuo’ (Strong # 4100)

According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, ‘pisteuo’ is in part “to think to be true; to be persuaded of; to credit, place confidence in”. This word ‘pisteuo’ encompasses many different aspects of the life of a follower of Christ including firstly, believing in Christ as Lord and Savior. Thus, this “believes” is without doubt; and is full, complete trust and acceptance.

--“all things” Greek word ‘pas’ (Strong # 3956)

1. individually
      a. each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
2 collectively
      a. some of all types

(Definition taken from our computer concordance)

Sometimes in Scripture (though, by far the minority), this word “all” does not mean to be inclusive of every single thing (individually), but to some of all types (collectively). For example:

God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:12). Had all flesh (each, every, in whole not in part) corrupted their way? Only a few verses prior it is stated that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time, Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). We see that the ‘all’ does not include the righteous man Noah.


To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Did Paul become a murderer to the murderers? A thief to the thieves? Obviously not. One must read this “all things” in context to find what indeed is being referred to. Likewise with the verse in 1 Corinthians 13 . . . “Love . . . believes all things”.

Taken in context then, this verse is teaching that true and genuine love will believe in another, in what they are teaching, in what they are doing unless it is either already known to contradict Scripture, or if upon later study and examination this is found to be the case. 

This true love does not doubt the word of another, and it is not distrusting of the motives of those around us. As Matthew Henry shares in his commentary on this verse: “it is apt to believe well of all, to entertain a good opinion of them when there is no appearance to the contrary . . .”

The more I think about and study this aspect of love, the more it becomes apparent how lacking it seems to be in today’s world . . . especially among those who claim to be followers of Christ. My Mom once shared that it is often those who claim to be Christians who judge their fellow brethren the harshest. Why is this so? Why is judgment and condemnation so prevalent among believers today? Could it be because this aspect of love is not being portrayed? 

Should we not love one another, believing in them and trusting in their motives? And if we do happen to see a brother or sister in the Lord believing in or teaching something that is in error, should we not gently go to them and show them this in love? Not judging or harshly treating them, but trusting in that they have a heart for the Lord, but yet may be misguided in this area? 

On the other hand should not the one receiving instruction, discipline or rebuke, trust the motives and heart of the giver? Recognizing that to do these things is actually an expression of true and godly love?

If such was done, if the bond of love was so strong between fellow believers, that we believed, hoped and taught one another in the love of Christ, what an example that would be to the world! The first step for developing this love for one another comes from recognizing that we are together a household of faith*. 

We may be separated in some form or fashion by distance, or perhaps by different walks of life, but the bonds as children of God should be just as strong, or stronger, than those within the physical family unit. Bonds that are strengthened in the pure love of Christ . . . and for what purpose? To bring glory to our Lord.

May we all truly grow in loving our brothers and sisters in the Lord as Christ would have us to. May we unselfishly display this 1 Corinthians 13 type of love to all of those we come into contact with. And may we develop trusting, believing hearts in one another . . .

“ ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’ ” (John 13:34-35)

*This does not at all imply ecumenism . . . please refer to the first paragraph of this writing.

-Posted by Sarah

Monday, July 28, 2008

Psalm 28:7-8

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him. The Lord is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed." Psalm 28:7-8

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Love - Part 11: Bears All Things

Love . . . bears all things,” 1 Corinthians 13:7

This little phrase is near the end of the list of qualities that describe love, and I must admit, it is one that I had not given a great deal of study to prior to this writing. The obvious question that comes to mind is, what does it mean to have a love that bears all things? What does it look like lived out in daily life?

I pulled out the concordance and began to do a bit of research . . . the Greek word for “bears” is ‘stego’ which translated means “to cover closely (so as to keep water out), generally to bear up under” (Taken from the Zondervan NASB Exahuastive Concordance). 

In the New American Standard Bible (NASB), this word ‘stego’ is used but four times, once here in 1 Corinthians and three other times it is used and translated as ‘endure’. 

A concordance that we have on the computer defines this word ‘stego’ as:

1. deck, thatch, to cover
      a. to protect or keep by covering, to preserve
2. to cover over with silence
      a. to keep secret
      b. to hide, conceal
              1. of the errors and faults of others
3. by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear.

The meaning of love bearing all things is deep and broad and is an aspect of love often neglected. When thinking of love bearing all things in regards to its defining, one thought that comes to mind is forgiveness. In fact, it is deeper than that for it not only forgives in the heart, but seeks to cover over the wrongdoing of another. 

Questions come to mind in relation to this . . . how many times when we are wronged do we go and tell others about it? How many times do we hold onto the memories of the wrongs done against us and then bring the sins of others back up to them . . . “but you did” . . . ? How many times by our attitude and countenance do we let those around us know that what they did/said angered us?

While this is the natural response of the fleshly nature, it is the opposite of a pure and godly love; opposite of the love that God calls His children to display in their lives. It is a heart that is thinking more of oneself than serving others and the Lord.

God has called us, as believers in Christ, to be long-suffering, to be forbearing with others. To have this love that bears all things . . . and it is by our love that others will know that we are of Christ: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Different circumstances often arise in our lives that give us the opportunity to show this beautiful aspect of love of forbearing . . .

-Angry words . . . the response: forgiveness, gentleness, words of love.

-Dirty clothes on the floor . . . a heart of delight in picking them up.

-Gossip and slander being spread about ones’ self . . . trusting in the Lord; forbearing and not retaliating.

-The dishes are piled high in the sink . . . love and service shown through cheerfully tending to them.

-A car cuts one off on the highway . . . forgiveness and grace.

-Mud tracked on the newly cleaned floor . . . a smile and a rag quickly cures that situation.

-Persecution for one’s faith . . . remembering that it is the Lord who holds us in His hand and persecution is promised to those who love and serve Christ; response to the persecutors: love, forgiveness and service, turning the other cheek.

The list could go on and on . . . and while most of the above are little things, love that forbears should extend to all situations that we may encounter. (Granted there are definitely times for rebuke, correction, and discipline which is beyond the scope of this writing.)

To our families, our friends, our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and all others that we come into contact with, may the love of Christ, complete with bearing all things, be shown and expressed to them. May it come springing forth from a heart consecrated to the Lord.

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth . . . This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 John 3:18 and 23-24).

-Posted by Sarah

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Not Forsaken

"But the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. The LORD will also be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You." Psalm 9:7-10

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Love - Part 10: Rejoices with the Truth

Love . . . does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;” 1 Corinthians 13:6

Rejoice is: “to be glad in” and “to experience joy and gladness in a high degree; to exult.”

As I was examining this aspect of love, the thought came to mind, how is this applicable? Usually one thinks of love as a response or action towards someone. 

When reading the first part of this chapter, it is fairly simple to understand how to show patience . . . to not brag and the like. But how do we show love to others by not rejoicing in unrighteousness but rejoicing with the truth?

Before going further, it is important to understand what unrighteousness is and what is the truth. As the Lord is all-righteous, unrighteousness would obviously be the opposite of that; that which is worldly, fleshly, separated from God, contrary to Scripture. This unrighteousness is not only portrayed through actions, but also in thoughts, beliefs, and words. 

Romans 1:29 begins a list of sins with this negative quality “God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;” (Romans 1:29).

Unrighteousness and truth are at odds with each other. They are not compatible as is shown just a few verses prior to the above: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18). God’s wrath is against all that is unrighteous, all that is contrary to His holy name and perfect Word.

But what is truth? Scripture shows that truth is in the Lord alone. Ephesians 4:21 states that “truth is in Jesus”, and Christ Himself declared “‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’ ” (John 14:6). 

The Scripture itself is truth: “your word is truth” (John 17:17) and “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13). 

And the Holy Spirit whom the Lord has given to us upon believing in His name is described as “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17).

The contrast between these two, unrighteousness and truth, is clearly shown in Scripture. Though, it is often difficult to distinguish the difference in every-day life circumstances. Everything we do should be judged by the light of Scripture to discern whether or not what we are doing, thinking, and believing is of the truth or of error. 

This discernment comes only through the word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit; and with that “. . . because of practice" (studying and examining God’s word and applying it to our lives) we will have our “senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14; emphasis added). To be able to discern between unrighteousness and truth.

But it is a choice that we must make between the two. Paul emphatically exhorts “do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6:13). 

In our day to day life, we make the conscious choice to whom or what we are presenting ourselves to. It will either be to unrighteousness (that which is opposed to God), or to the Lord as instruments of righteousness (that which is in obedience to God.)*

Getting back to 1 Corinthians 13:6, how is not rejoicing in unrighteousness, but rejoicing in the truth a part of love? It is through love for people and for our Lord, that we do not approve the sin committed. 

We are to not condone wickedness, nor approve of it . . . not in other’s lives and especially not in our own lives. We must disprove of, and not endorse, lying (even the ‘little’ lies), anger, hurtful words, bragging, false doctrine, cruelty . . . every sin, everything that is at odds against our Lord and Savior and His Word, we should respond to with the same heart that the Lord responds with. 

Does this mean that we are to disprove of or hate those practicing or doing these sins? No indeed. Love is extended even though one sins for all have sinned and continue to sin, including ourselves (1 John 1:8, 10).

It always amazes me to think that the perfect, holy and true Savior, Jesus Christ “while we were yet sinners . . . died for us” (Romans 5:8). What love and mercy! And we are called to “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). As Christ loved, so should we love. As the Lord despises sin and desires righteousness, so should we. As God loves all men, so should we; and particularly those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).

It is through love, the pure love that comes from God, that we exhort, encourage, discipline, and if necessary, rebuke our brothers and sisters in the Lord. In the same token, we should have our hearts laid bare and open and earnestly desire to receive the same.

When we see or hear about our brothers and sisters walking in righteousness, our hearts response should be to rejoice with them. As John shared “For I was very glad . . . how you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (1 John 3-4). 

Throughout Scripture, different writers will declare their joy upon hearing of the others’ faith, and that should be our heart’s response when hearing of the faith and truth in our brothers and sisters in the Lord. And all of this because we desire in obedience to our Lord to love . . . and true love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:9

*[It is important to clarify that one is not saved, nor holds onto, salvation by works. Nor can one lose their salvation. In the Scriptures, salvation is clearly shown to be obtained through one having faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ (believing in Him) and not by any physical work that one may do. (e.g. Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:16; Romans 4:3-5). 

It is also shown that we are eternally secure in Christ (e.g. John 6:39-40; 1 John 5:13). Though some Scriptures may appear to suggest that one is saved by works and/or can lose their salvation, one must look at these verses in context with the whole of God’s Word, using Scripture to interpret Scripture knowing that it will not contradict itself].

-Posted by Sarah