But some of the “all” passages are also the most challenging; especially when it comes to the end of that well-known “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13.
God IS love (1 Jn. 4:8). That may have been the first Bible verse we ever learned. But then we realize what God may expect of us in loving as He does (including loving those who don’t love us back), and the rubber meets the road. Out of faith, hope, and love, the greatest is love (1 Cor. 13:13), and with good reason. Love embodies everything God is in His perfect willingness to suffer out of love for us.
Love bears ALL things. Love believes ALL things. Love hopes ALL things. Love endures ALL things. (1 Cor. 13:7) Yikes!
None of us is perfected in love as a human being. But we are shooting for the highest standard of human behavior when we attempt to love truly. This love isn’t mushy or casual. It’s an all-out war again our personal self-centeredness.
Will we bear ALL things, forgiving the hurtful words of a family member, the sassy mouth of a teenager, the betrayal of a friend … a spouse? Will we take the load and transfer it to God as we look to overcome the pain?
Love believes ALL things. Will we keep believing when trust is damaged? When a child is born with a condition that requires constant care? When God is silent?
Hoping for ALL things is another challenge. Dare we hope and pray for a wandering spouse’s return, or a prodigal child? Do we still believe in miracles enough to ask for healing? Even when prayers are offered for months, or years?
Lastly, enduring all things may be the hardest requirement of all. When we are treated unjustly, will we act out of love and not complain? When we refuse to complain or argue, the Bible says we shine like stars in the universe (Phil. 2:14). Certainly very few people choose to graciously endure wrongdoing against them today.
Not that there aren’t times when we should stand up and speak out. Not that we shouldn’t realize a time to let go. Not that we shouldn’t fight for injustice or require respect. But not without loving as our core goal. Without love, we gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:3).
Most importantly, love is caught rather than taught. Our children are watching the way we love. And as we long for them to have loving, virtuous hearts, we recognize the hard choices required to maintain the daily example necessary for them to embrace these values.