“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)
a. each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
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