Love Bears All Things

The Word of God states, in 1 Corinthians 13:7, that love “beareth all things” (KJV).  Indeed, this is one of the characteristics that reveals the force and nature of love.  But, what does scripture mean by this statement? What is the practical application of this principle with respect to the love between a husband and a wife in the bonds of holy matrimony?

Some instinctively explain the phrase “love beareth all things” to mean that love persists and perseveres through difficulties.  Well known paraphrases render the thought as “love has the power of undergoing all things” (BBE) or “love never gives up” (GNB).  While this is certainly a true notion it would appear to make the 1 Corinthians 13:7 rather redundant as the latter portion of the verse clearly proclaims “love endureth all things.”

Another common understanding is that the phrase alludes to the idea that love lifts up or carries in the face of difficulty or trouble.  To this end, another popular paraphrase relays “love is always supportive” (CEV).  This principle is certainly verified by other scriptures, such as Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Despite the veracity of these interpretations it is doubtful that they capture the intended meaning of the verse.  The Greek term for “beareth” in 1 Corinthians 13:7 is from a verb stemming from the term “roof”.  The thought being conveyed is somewhat of a simile.  Genuine love covers others just like thatch of a roof covers the contents or inhabitants below.

There are primarily two practical applications of this teaching.  First, one might cover something in order to hide it from sight or, figuratively, thought and memory.  Love covers with silence – it keeps certain things secret, private, and hidden.  Specifically, love will conceal the imperfections, faults, and errors of others.  Love is not disposed to promulgate or publicize such things (Proverbs 11:13, 17:9).  Love refuses to dwell on or promote that which is negative.  This is no doubt the essence behind 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (ESV).

Second, one might cover something to keep away outside forces that threaten.   In other words, love protects, preserves, and sustains by covering.  Love keeps out harmful influences like a roof keeps out water.  One who loves does not allow affliction, detriment, insult, offense, or indignity to come upon the object of his affection.

The Bible further tells us that love bears “all things”.  This encompasses everything in all circumstances.  There is no feasible situation in which genuine love would fail to cover and protect.  Love is consistent and true in this regard.

There are several lessons to be learned from this concept with respect to love in the context of marriage.   Partners who truly love one another in a biblical sense can trust one another to keep personal matters confidential.  They should never fear that the things they share with each other will be disclosed to outsiders.  They should never worry that that the conflicts and problems that inevitably take place in all relationships will be revealed to others.

Furthermore, loving spouses do not dwell on the imperfections, faults, or errors of each other.  These things are figuratively concealed from their view and thoughts.  Love covers these weaknesses and mistakes and never demands justice, judgment, or revenge.  In other words, loving couples quickly dismiss and disregard the negative happenings in the relationship as well as the unfavorable characteristics of one another.  Instead, love chooses to focus on the positive and good.

Finally, loving partners in marriage will always do their best to protect one another and their relationship from external forces that have potential to cause harm.  This may take many forms such as: outsiders with ill will, compromising situations, struggles and pressures of life, and so forth.  A husband and wife who truly love one another will be committed to preserving and sustaining their marriage come what may.
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