1 Cor. 13:7 – Love Contains, Believes, Hopes, Endures

Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 13 Sept 2009



1.     Love suffers long

2.     [Love] Practices kindness

3.     Love does not envy/is not jealous

4.     Love does not parade itself/does not boast/brag

5.     [Love] Is not puffed up/proud/arrogant (BLOWFISH)

6.      [Love] Is not rude (DOG)

7.      [Love] does not seek its own/not self-seeking (CAT)

8.      [Love] Is not irritable/provoked/easily-angered

9.     Love does not think/take into account/keep record of the bad

·         Does not think about evil

·         Does not impute evil motives to others:

·         Keeps no record of wrong

10.       [Love] does not rejoice upon unrighteousness

·         Love does not rejoice to DO wrong things

·         Love does not enjoy watching OTHER people do wrong things

·         Love does even not look forward to catching others in wrongdoing

11.       [Love] Rejoices together in the truth

·         The Greek dative can mean “in,” “by the agency of,” or in some cases “with.”

·         Only when the Holy Spirit controls us and He is holding the harness on our emotions so that we rejoice in the truth, can we run the race successfully.


Now let’s cover 4 more things that Love does:


12.       Love Bears/protects/covers/contains all things

A.    stegei

§         Verbal form of noun for “roof.”

§         KJV, NAS, ESV (bears), Thistleton (supports) focus on the supportive, load-bearing aspect of the roof.

§         NIV (protects) and JFB, ATR, Arnold (covers) and I (keep a lid on) focus on the covering or containing aspect of the roof.

§         This word is only used in two other places in the NT, and both of them are used like it is here to indicate restraining oneself in the context of a personal relationship:

1) 1 Cor. 9:12 “If others are shareholders of authority [over] you, [why] not rather us be? But we did not use this authority, rather we are BEARING/ENDURING/PUTTING UP WITH/KEEPING A LID ON these things in order that we might give no kind of disconnect in regards to the gospel of the Christ.”

2) 1 Thess. 3:1-5 “When we could no longer FORBEAR/ENDURE/STAND IT/KEEP A LID ON IT, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone; 2) and sent Timothy, our brother and God's minister in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith; 3) that no man be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that hereunto we are appointed. 4) For verily, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5) For this cause I also, when I could no longer FORBEAR/ENDURE/STAND IT/KEEP A LID ON IT, sent that I might know your faith, lest by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor should be in vain.

§         Mental picture of “keeping a lid on it” Popcorn?

§         The personal restraint that love uses applies both to yourself and to other people:

1) In relation to yourself, “Love endures without divulging to the world its personal distress. It holds fast, like a watertight vessel… and contains himself” (JFB)

·         This is like the load-bearing aspect of the word.

·         Rom 15:1 Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

·         When that talkative person steps over the boundary of rudeness in demanding your attention and won’t let you go, love uses restraint to subdue whatever personal irritation you may naturally feel in order to keep caring about that person and what is important to them.

·         As Calvin put it, love teaches us to be “not impatient or spiteful” but “to apply our shoulders to their burdens.”

2) In relation to others, love covers over faults, conceals shameful things, and does not gossip.

·         Prov. 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strifes; but love covers all transgressions.”

·         1 Pet. 4:8 “…be fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covers a multitude of sins”

·         When those hurricane winds ripped off part of our roof last year, we hurried to patch the holes up. Why? Because we didn’t want the passengers of every airplane flying over our house to see what we were doing in our bedroom. Well actually we were more concerned about not letting the rain in that would further damage our house. So we gathered the roof tiles that had scattered onto the lawn and I handed my boys a bucket of tar and we nailed those tiles back down and spread tar over the holes to make it waterproof.

·         Similarly, love keeps a lid on things. When someone confesses something to me in private that should not be public knowledge – say one of the boys in the church tells me that they really like another girl in the church, I must keep it under my hat and not tell the girl, “Hey, so-and-so likes you!”

·         What if a woman were to confide that she was wasting lots of her family’s money on gambling? It’s not appropriate to take that to the next prayer meeting and say, “Pray for sister so-and-so, she’s really got a problem with gambling.” However, because her behavior is destructive to her family, there are some people who need to know and help – first of all, her husband, if she’s married. So keeping a lid on information does not mean total silence.


How much will love bear with or keep under its hat?

B.     Panta

§         Literally means “all things” – majority of translations.

§         There is a different Greek word that is normally used for “always,” but the NIV goes with “always” because 1 Cor 13:7 is an unusual grammatical construction that I think contains this idea of “in every circumstance.”

§         However, (as G. Clark points out) “All” doesn’t always mean absolutely “all” in the Bible any more than

·         1 Tim. 2:4  “God…who desires all men to be saved” means that God will save every human being, or

·         Luke 2:1 “all the world should be taxed” means that Caesar collected taxes from the Chinese.

·         There are limits on what a person operating under the love of God will cover/support,

·         For instance we would not support a murderer to continue murdering. We would bring him to the police rather than hiding him.

·         So there are limits to what love will bear; it will not condone sin.

§         In an attempt to avoid a translation that might promote the misleading idea that love is indiscriminate, some scholars (incl. Thistleton) translate this verse by negating the negative rather than giving an infinite positive: e.g. “love never tires of support.” Taken this way, the word “all” means there is no limit to the amount of bearing/protecting love will do. I believe that is a correct interpretation, although I’m not personally willing to move that far away from a literal, word-for-word translation.


13.       Love Believes all things

A.    “Believes all things” (NKJV, NASB, ESV)

B.     “Always trusts” (NIV)

C.     First, Love believes all that God promises in His word. This is how we are saved.

§         1 Cor. 1:21 For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that BELIEVE.

§         Picture of trapeze artists. Are you willing to swing into the air away from all control over your life and trust God to hold you and keep you from falling?

§         Once you trust God, you can also, as a result, let go of control over other people and entrust the success of God’s purposes to God’s sovereign control.

D.    Yet love is not gullible (Arnold); v.6 love rejoices in truth, not in what’s wrong.

§         Thus again Thistleton’s negation of the negative in order to avoid misrepresenting love as naïve: Love “never loses faith”

§         I’ve heard the joke a couple of different ways, but in one case, the butt of the joke is politicians. “How can you tell when a politician is lying?” When they’re moving their lips!

§         There are certain circumstances when you should not believe what you’re being told (Such as when the toddler has chocolate smeared all over her mouth and clothes, but when you ask, denies having snitched a chocolate bar. There’s an opportunity to teach an important lesson about how terrible lying is.)  But usually it is best to suspend judgment and ask ourselves, “Could this possibly be true?” and give the benefit of the doubt.

E.      “In dealing with loved ones, love is not suspicious or cynical, but open and favorably disposed toward them. It seeks to understand each person in the best light with an understanding of life’s complexities. It believes people can change and improve. It sees their worth, potential, and future possibilities… It is not afraid of being proved wrong or being embarrassed by others…” (Strauch)

F.      Illustrations:

§         CIRCUS: I remember watching the trapeze artists last time I was at the circus in Carbondale. Occasionally, they would miss their timing and an acrobat would fall through the air into the safety net below. But did that stop them from trying again? No, they climbed right back up there and tried it again!

§         JESUS: The trust Jesus put in the 12 disciples. Can you imagine the misgivings Jesus must have felt when He sent out Peter on the first evangelism tour?

§         PAUL: 1 Cor. 9:17 For if I do this of mine own will, I have a reward: but if not of mine own will, I have a stewardship ENTRUSTED to me.

§         YOU: Are there people that have let you down or that you are trying to control or trying to protect yourself from being embarrassed by them? Do you need to give them a second chance to build trust with you? If God has given you any second chances, you can reflect His love by giving second chances to others.


14.       Love Hopes all things

A.    All the translations use the same word here: “Hope”

B.     Or to say the converse: Does not despair; Does not give up and “throw in the towel” (Explanation of this expression from boxing matches: Trainers carry a towel to wipe off sweat and blood in between rounds from the fighter they trained. There is a rule in boxing that if a trainer throws his towel into the fighting ring, the referee must end the fight, giving the win to the opponent. It’s a way for the trainer to stop a fight when he decides his trainee can’t win it. Love doesn’t throw in the towel, it keeps hoping for a win.)


How is hope used in the Bible?

C.     Hope begins with the expectation of salvation from God:

§         1 Tim. 4:10 “For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our HOPE set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe.”

§         1 Tim. 6:17 “Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not highminded, nor have their HOPE set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.”

§         1 Pet. 1:13 “Tying down the loose ends of your mind, be sober and set your HOPE maturely on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”

§         cf. Isaiah 42:3 (quoted in Matt. 12:21 and Rom 15:12 as being fulfilled by Jesus), Luke 24:21, Act 26:7, Rom 8:25, 1 Tim. 5:5.

D.    This hope flows into an expectation of fellowship with other believers. The apostles spoke just as often of hope as it relates to fellowship with other Christians as they did of hope as it relates to God’s salvation:

§         PAUL: Rom. 15:24 “whenever I go to Spain I HOPE to see you in my journey”

§         1 Cor. 16:7 “For I do not wish to see you now by the way; for I HOPE to stay a while with you, if the Lord permit.”

§         1 Tim. 3:14 “These things write I to you, HOPING to come to you shortly;”

§         JOHN: 2 John 1:12 “… I HOPE to come unto you, and to speak face to face, that your joy may be made full.”

§         3 John 1:14 “I HOPE shortly to see you…”

§         cf. 2 Cor. 5:11, 2 Cor. 1:10-13, Philippians 2:19&23, Philemon 1:22

E.     “Love sees the bright side of things. It not only sees the faults but the strong points of a brother or sister in Christ. No matter how bleak a situation may appear, no cause, no situation, no person is ever regarded as totally hopeless. There is always a place to begin again. Love will find it; it never gives up hope… Love is undaunted, not discouraged; it never quits and it never gives up on anyone. Real love outlasts disappointments, sorrows, hatreds and hurts.” ~Jack Arnold

F.      PAUL’S EXAMPLE: Despite all the problems in Corinth, Paul did not give up hope. He wrote letters, visited, sent representatives, and prayed over the course of many years. Rather than harshly criticizing the Corinthians, Paul expressed great confidence in them: 2 Cor. 1:7 “our hope for you is steadfast…” 2:3 “… I have confidence in you all…”  7:4 “…great is my boasting on your behalf…” 7:16 “…in everything I am of good courage concerning you.”


15.       Love Endures all things (NIV-perseveres)

A.    Literally “remains under”

B.     “Endures all things” (NKJV,NASB,ESV)

C.     “Always perseveres” (NIV)

D.    “Love is tenacious” (Strauch)

E.     “Never gives up” (Thistleton)

F.      (Graphic: white flag of surrender x’ed out)

G.    Scriptural use of this word:

§         Like all the other qualities of love, this one also comes from God and was modeled by Jesus: Heb 12:2 looking unto Jesus the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him ENDURED the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3) For consider him that hath ENDURED such gainsaying of sinners against himself, that ye wax not weary, fainting in your souls.

§         This quality of love is part of our own faith in God: Mat. 10:22 “And you will be hated by all men for my name's sake: but he who PERSEVERES to the end, he shall be saved.” (cf. Mat 24:13, Mar 13:13)

§         It is also something we exercise in love toward others: Rom. 12:10 “ In love of the brethren be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another;  11 in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope; PERSEVERING in tribulation; continuing steadfastly in prayer;

§         God also promises blessings to those who endure: 2 Tim. 2:12a “if we PERSEVERE, we shall also reign with Him…” James 1:12 “Blessed is the man that ENDURES temptation; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him… 5:11 Behold, we call them blessed that ENDURED...”

H.    Doesn’t get fed up and quit, but is loyal. (Arnold)

§         ILLUSTRATION: When I think of loyalty, I think of my friend Jim from Denver. I met him in 1993 the first week I was in Denver at church and despite all my immaturities and crazy life situations that I got into, the friendship stuck. Eleven years later, after I had been prac­tically fired from my ministry and had to leave town, I asked all my friends to come help me load my possessions into a semi truck. Not many friends showed up, but Jim did. At that point, he was a busy engineer and couldn’t have been expected to give much time, and since his was a desk job, he wasn’t physically conditioned to lift boxes and furniture all day. He was also an elder of a different church than mine, so it wasn’t his church duty to help me. Yet he stayed on for hour after hour when practically everyone else had come and gone, loading my junk furniture onto that truck all day until it was all done and we rolled that truck door shut against the night. That was a demonstration of God’s love through endurance in a friendship.

§         Are there friends that have stretched you beyond all reasonable limits? Do you have family members who seem like they will never change? God has not given up on you. Don’t give up on them.



Love Contains, Trusts, Hopes, and Perseveres.


If this list of the qualities of love hasn’t already overwhelmed you in past weeks, it should now. The standard of love is far higher than any of us can reach or hold. But as we confess our love-less-ness and look in faith to Jesus, our naturally selfish hearts will continue to be transformed by His Spirit to genuinely become others-centered, and we will see this fruit of love mature.


Tertullian wrote, “It is our care for the helpless, our practice of lovingkindness, that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. ‘Look,’ they say, ‘How they love on another! Look how they are prepared to die for one another!’”


May such love brand us.