Love is Sound (rejoices in the truth)
There are many who falsely claim that there is a conflict between love and truth. They say things like “doctrine doesn’t matter as long as we love one another.” They are willing to compromise just about anything “in the name of love.” What the Bible teaches us is that true love does not tolerate untruth or unsound doctrine. True love rejoices in truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
God is a God of truth (Deu 32:4), Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6), the Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth and guides us into all truth (John 14:17; John 16:13), the word of God is truth (John 17:17), and those who worship God must do it in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
It is no wonder then that in 2 Thess 2:10, “loving the truth” is used synonymously with being saved. Everyone who has ever been saved has been so because they have loved of the truth. Therefore, the Christian life will evidence a love for the truth, and a continuation in it (John 8:31).
True love does not allow someone to continue in error if it will damn their souls (1 Cor 5:5). It does not overlook false doctrine in the name of “love”, but it will lovingly confront sin and error (Eph 4:15; 2 Tim 2:25). All of our relationships in the church are bound together by a common love for the truth (2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1).
Love Suffers (bears all things)
There is a burden to bear with love, because love always costs. The moment we decide to love, we make ourselves vulnerable and open to hurt. This is why some people put up walls of protection and choose not to love. The vulnerability which comes with love makes us susceptible to hurt when our love is rejected or not reciprocated. God himself experiences this every moment a sinner refuses to receive Jesus Christ – the ultimate gift of love.
Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
True love is willing to cover and protect (but not excuse) those who have sinned even if it means suffering on their behalf. As we have already learned, true love does not rejoice in or gossip about the failures of others; rather, it is willing to bear the hurt caused by the sins of those we love.
The word used here for bear literally means “to roof over.” Like a roof that covers and protects, bearing the burden of the elements, love protects those who have sinned and repented. Out of concern for their wellbeing love is willing to bear the brunt of sin.
Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Every one of us has particular sins that are especially troubling to us (Heb 12:1). True love does not see the sins of others and judge or condemn them. It hurts for them and seeks to find ways to help them to overcome that sin.
Romans 15:1-3 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
Jesus Christ bore our sins on the cross and in doing so He left us with an example of perfect love (1 Pet 2:24; 1 John 4:10). Obviously, we are not bearing sin in the same sense that Christ did. Nevertheless, true love bears the sins of others by showing mercy, by bearing the hurts that result from their sin, and by overlooking their failures. All of this is for the purpose of promoting their spiritual growth (Rom 15:2).
James 5:19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,
The word “cover” here is the very same word used in 1 Cor 13 for “bear.” Love, far from judging the unsaved, leads us to seek the salvation of men and women so that their sins can be covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. Love hates sin but seeks to convert the sinner.
Love is not Suspicious (believes all things)
When the Bible says that love “believes all things” it is not speaking of blind or naïve belief. The idea is to consistently think the best of other people without cynicism or suspicion. It is an unloving spirit that assumes the worst of others or is skeptical of their motives.
If we find ourselves skeptical or assuming the worst of someone, because of a past sin or offense, then we may be revealing an unforgiving spirit that resides in our heart. This cynicism is actually a defense mechanism, protecting ourselves from a repeat of some hurt that we have experienced in the past. This cynicism is not in line with what we have already learned about love. Love “bears all things.” That is, it is willing to suffer and to bear with the sins and failures of others. It lovingly endures the pain that the vulnerability of love brings. The same love that bears the sins of others also thinks the best of others even at the risk of being proven wrong. Love does not become cynical because of past hurts or disappointments.
An unloving heart is quick to ascribe ill motives to the actions of others. It assumes the worst instead of erring on the side of trust. It may be that this trust at some point is broken, but again, the nature of love is that it is willing to bear with that disappointment and to continue to love.
Luke 7:36-39 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
This woman had a reputation in her city as a “sinner.” She was probably a well-known prostitute.
This Pharisee assumed that had Christ known this woman’s reputation he would have rebuked her. The Pharisee’s first and only thought was that this woman was not coming in a spirit of faith or repentance, but with ill will. It did not enter into his mind that she might actually have come in repentance, with the desire to give her life over to Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
After the Pharisee “spoke to himself”, Christ “answered.” He knew the thoughts in the heart of the Pharisee and rebuked him for them. This reminds us that it is Christ and Christ alone who can see the hearts of men and who can discern their motives. The Pharisee saw the woman, remembered her reputation and judged her wrongly. For us who cannot read minds or thoughts, we are to err on the side of trust and believe the motives and intentions of others are pure, until proven otherwise. If we are proven wrong then we are to seek to forgive and restore that brother and then to keep on loving.
Love assumes the best, bears with the worst, restores the offender and continues loving.
Love Does Not Surrender (hopes all things)
Not only does love bear with the sins of others and assume the best of others but even when sins persist and trust is broken, it continues to love and hopes for the return or restoration of the erring brother.
An unloving heart is quick to give up on others. It is quick to pronounce that someone is “getting what they deserve”, or to write them off forever.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
As long as God’s love and grace continues toward men, we should not give up on others. We love them and pray for them. We pray that God would grant them repentance, that they would come to (or be restored to) the faith. In short, true love does not “give up” on anyone.
Love Stands (endures all things)
In summary, love “endures all things.” It does not fail, no matter what it encounters. The word here is the same used for Christ as he “endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). Christ’s love enabled him to willingly endure the torture of the cross for those whom he loved.
When we choose to love others (in obedience to God’s command, Mark 12:31; 1 Pet 1:22) we make a forever commitment. Love is not a fleeting emotion but a rigid, unmovable and purposeful commitment. It refuses to let go even when it encounters hurts and disappointments.
Love is an all-important attitude that should saturate the Christian heart. All of our actions and words should be seasoned with love.
When we accept the primacy of love and learn to apply the personality of love, we reflect the character of God and display the fact that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. This is not an easy thing to do in a society that exalts pride and perverts love. But, as we learn more about God’s loving character and grow in the faith, it becomes increasingly easy.
If you find yourself lacking in love, dwell on God’s love for you. Meditate on the greatest act of love – Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for you. Consider the character of God and then look for opportunities to show His love to others.