I don’t really enjoy going to the doctor. It is not something I do easily. In fact, if things are left to me, I probably wouldn’t do it at all. So, when I am sick for an extended period of time, with a hacking cough or persistent fever, my wife will take the matter into her own hands. She will make the appointment to the doctor for me and then tell me to go. That’s a strong, life-giving love. Despite my complaints and groans at her intervention, she loves me enough to take the tough road for my blessing.
“[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7–8, NKJV)
When Paul describes the kind of love that leads to healthy, satisfying relationships, he paints a picture of a strong, tough, enduring, positive love.
1. Love stands up under the weight of disappointment and difficulty.
Life-giving love “bears all things.” The idea is that love stands up under the pressure and stresses of life. It does not fold when the going gets tough in life or relationships, and there are a lot of stresses and disappointments even in the best relationships. Love becomes life-giving when we settle back into the arms of Jesus for strength and stand up to bless the other in the face of stress and disappointment.
2. Love displays a generous spirit of trust toward the other.
Life-giving love “believes all things.” When Paul talks about love always believing, we find the essence of trust in others. Although this does not mean that a person is naïve or gullible in relationships, it does indicate that love displays a generous spirit toward others rather than turning a cynical eye toward them.
3. Love moves forward with a spirit of optimism toward the other.
Life-giving love “hopes all things.” It always hopes for the best in and from others. There is an optimism expressed here that is somehow sorely lacking in so many today. Because of God’s never-ceasing love for us, in spite of our repeated disappointments to Him, He continues to hope in us. We in turn trust God’s continued work in the hearts of others so that we believe that the best is on its way.
4. Love has a warrior’s undaunted spirit to fight for the good of the other.
Life-giving love “endures all things.” It is the picture of the battle-weary warrior who remains undaunted and not dismayed. Jesus nourishes our soul with a continual feast of love. This love gives us confidence and courage to endure, and we in turn pour that love toward others.
5. Love never becomes invalid or useless, but it builds an eternal legacy in the life of the other.
Life-giving love “never fails.” The apostle Paul declared that only love will last as a legacy for our ultimate future. Love will never become unimportant, love will never become useless, love will never become invalid, love will never become a crumbling dynasty that has no power in the future.
“There is a sense in love is never brought down; it reflects God’s character, after all, and cannot fluctuate from what it is. Yet that very reality is what also gives it eternal character, so that it ‘remains’ even after all other things have come to their proper end.” (Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 643)
Without life-giving love, our relationships will become crooked and empty. With life-giving love, even the most difficult relationships can become filled with satisfaction and health.
How can we love like that? Stop. Take a breath. And pray:
“Father, nourish my soul today with Your love so that I can love others the way that You have loved me.”