Love Endures All Things

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7)

Today we will look at the last phrase in 1 Corinthians 13:7, which says love endures all things. My intention is that for next Sunday we will spend this time wrapping up our study through these first seven verses in this chapter by tying up some loose ends. That means a time when I get to say some things I wished I had said, and I hope too that we will focus in a very strong way on the importance of continued application. What I mean by that is application over the long haul, over all the rest of our lives. My desire is for me and for you that though we come to an end on this study of biblical love, that that will not translate to forgetting what we have learned or less fervor in its application daily. So that will be next time. But for today we have this one last aspect to discuss, and I’m glad we do because it is vitally important as an ingredient for loving biblically. It may also be one of the primary challenges for some of us as well.

Paul ends verse 7 by adding a time aspect to love, but not just a time aspect but also an issue of character when he uses the word translated “endures.” Love endures all things. We all know something about endurance already. I saw that Noah Lawrence ran eight miles yesterday. Eight miles, is that right? Running eight miles takes what? It takes endurance. Some of you will graduate from high school this May. What does that take? Endurance. Twelve years or so worth of endurance. Both an eight mile run or finishing twelve years of school require endurance. The lengths are not the same, but for the activity involved we would use the word “endurance,” right? 

But endurance is not just about time, it is about doing something over time that is difficult. If I sat down outside in my lawn chair to simply enjoy the sun for five hours, that is a long time to just sit in the sun doing nothing else. No one would say “Wow, that takes real endurance.” Why? Because it’s not difficult, there is no courage involved, no real pressure. To use the word endurance there is some necessary challenge involved. The Greek word translated here as endurance means this: “to bear up under pressure,” or, “to bear up courageously,” or, “to remain patient in the midst of opposition.” Sometimes it even means to “remain in a place instead of leaving it,” with the implication that there are great difficulties in that place.

So it is to remain, to be steadfast, to be courageous in difficulties, especially pertaining to relationships. Love endures all things.

There is an element of trouble, of pain, that requires a steadfast love or a courageous love to endure with people. We don’t give up on people. We don’t walk away when things get hard or complicated. Love compels us to stick it out, to endure.

John MacArthur says that this word was a military term used of an army holding a vital position at all costs. It was used to describe a situation in which every hardship and suffering was to be endured patiently in order to hold fast.

I love that idea. Holding a position at all costs. Why? Because the position is important to the success of the battle. As Christians we must hold our positions with others in love for their good and for the glory of God.

This is way different than a fair weather friend. A fair weather friend is one who is your friend as long as things are good or easy or pleasant. A fair weather friend is with you as long as their are no problems, no trouble on the horizon, no storms brewing in your life. God says to us that if we are going to really love, we must endure with one another.

In Romans 12 we see the same word used but translated differently in many versions. It is in verse 12, translated “patient.” Listen to this incredible passage, and as I read it, just notice all the parallels with 1 Corinthians 13.

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

Endurance! How is your endurance with each other and with others outside of this room? 

Paul doesn’t just talk about endurance regarding love in places like 1 Corinthians 13 and Romans 12. He lived that way. If you have read through Acts this is abundantly clear. Paul endured and he endured well when it came to loving ministry. He knew that love must accompany ministry if it is to be effective at all. We see him in real life facing tribulation and enduring. When he could have run away from ministry, he faced it head on. When he could have thrown in the towel in service to others, others who would hate him, instead he endured with love. 

In Acts 14 alone he was threatened with stoning in one city, others tried to worship him as a Greek god in the next city, he was literally stoned in the city of Lystra to the point that everyone thought he was dead. He got up, went back into the city, and continued ministry with great endurance. 

How does this happen? I think it happens as a work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who have been overwhelmed with what Christ has done for them. 

Paul as an example. He was stoned in Lystra and returned to Lystra because the message of grace that he had received compelled him to go on enduring with ministry to people so that they too might marvel in His grace.

It is in Philippians 1 where Paul says the familiar words, “for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He longed to be with Christ, and dying would get him there. He, however, knew the benefit of his going on in life as an instrument of God’s grace to others. After he said this, or as he wrote this from prison, he elaborates on his desire to depart life when he says, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” And then he adds, “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” He then sort of gives into his belief that he will remain on in the flesh for awhile longer because God still had work for him to do, his work was not over yet. Then in verse 26 he says, “so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.” Again, he is writing as a prisoner. His life, I think we could agree, had been hard – stoning, almost to death, persecution, imprisonment, poverty, trial after trial, and yet we see these words. A joy to continue on, to endure trials, so that in his trials, so that in his life those around him may have ample cause to glory in Christ. In other words, he endures hardship so that other people might have joy in Christ, glory in Christ.

Now that is a different way to look at hardships. “I will welcome, endure, continue faithfully in hardship, if or so that you can have joy in Christ, glory in Christ.” This is not a mystery, we should never be shocked by hardships and trials, nor should we be fearful of them. As God carried Paul, God carries us. His grace really is sufficient for us in our weaknesses; He is strong.

We will have trials in relationships where we must endure for the glory of Christ and for the good of people involved. Matthew 10 makes this clear. One thing you have to love about Matthew 10 is the straight forwardness of Jesus as He speaks to his followers. He is sending them out to do mission work, but before they go He tells them what it will be like. He is brutally honest with them, he holds nothing back. He tells them they will be delivered to the courts, scourged in the synagogues, brought before governors and kings. He says their families will come against them and cause them to be put to death, they will be hated.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 19 that they shouldn’t worry. There is some serious tribulation about to happen, and they are not to worry. In verse 26 He says, “So have no fear of them.” He repeats that they should not fear in verses 28 and 31.

In the middle of all this explanation of what is about to come and what the results will look like, Jesus says in verse. 22, “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Jesus is saying that while under pressure and trial, we are to remain faithful, obedient, and continue to do what we know is right in spite of what others are throwing our way, or what obstacles exists. He is saying that we as followers of Christ are called to endure.

If we have real love, it will continue even when faced with trial or hardship. We don’t turn it on and off, we don’t continue when it feels good and stop it when it doesn’t, we don’t choose how often we love, or when we will love, no, love for the Christian, biblical love is one of endurance.

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” At all times a friend loves. We really need to get this if we are going to love biblically. This means that when we are tempted to say, “I’m done with you, I’ve had enough, I will not be in your life anymore or help you as a friend or find help for you.” When we are tempted to say, “I’m done,” we bear up to that, we brush that kind of thinking away, and we replace that thinking with, “I will endure with you!” We don’t, we can’t just throw people aside like a worn shirt. 

It is this kind of love that makes an impact for Christ. It is this kind of love operating in us that gets peoples’ attention. It is this kind of love in us that shows who Christ is in this world. 

This kind of love is what Hosea had for his wife. Hosea’s wife was unfaithful, and yet Hosea refused to reject her, to toss her aside. She abandoned him and he pursued her. Finally he won her back. His love was in no way based on her character, how she treated him, or what she deserved. His love for her was based on God’s love and God’s grace. No one loves like that apart from God working in them.

We have opportunities to love in this way all around us. Every day we make decisions about love. And too often some of us choose not to endure, maybe in very small ways or perhaps in major ways. 

Aren’t you glad that God does not operate that way with us? Aren’t you glad He endures with us in love? When we read in places like Romans 8, we see the enduring love of God in our lives.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

That is enduring love. That is love that does not quit. That is how God loves us, and if we love that way, we are being like whom? Like Christ.

But we rationalize and we say things like, “Well this person, he doesn’t deserve that kind of love.” Well yeah, but none of us do. Or, “But she is not loving me back the way I want to be loved.” Okay, well, we aren’t loving God as we should either. Or, “But I have been hurt really, really bad by him, he has really hurt me by his sin.” Yeah, we have been hurt, no question about it, and yet through Christ we can love and we can love enduringly.

As I begin to wrap up this morning, I want you to think about this truth that love is to endure all things. Think of the time element and think of the challenge element. Again, enduring means to “bear up under pressure and remain courageous and patient in the midst of opposition.” Or as MacArthur discusses it, to hold a vital position at all costs, as in a military conflict. 

Given these definitions, endurance has to do with patently loving someone who is not so patiently loving you. Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 10, sending disciples out to minister to those who were hateful and cruel. Hosea going after his wife who was doing evil against him. Paul loving people even if it meant enduring prison, beatings, and many other trials. Each of these had special opportunities to love with endurance because they were in circumstances where they were being harmed and not really loved by others. We wouldn’t call it endurance if it were easy. 

Is there someone in your life right now that is treating you badly, hurting you, making your life really hard? Is there someone in your life that you are about to give up on? Someone who you would just as soon turn away from? Is there anyone about whom you are ready to say, “I’m done with you, just go away”?

If you are a Christian, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, none of those responses are options for you. You know that, right? None of those are options. No matter what, we must live with others in relationships as God has described they should be in His Word.

We live loving them, we live in forgiveness with them, we live peaceably with them as much as it depends on us, we live as givers with them, we pray for them, we rejoice with them, we weep with them, but we never give up on them. God never gives up on His children. Because love endures, love endures all things.

As I close, I want to read Psalm 136. The Psalmist is recounting the history of Israel primarily, and as he does he throws in this constant reminder of the steadfast love of God that endures all things. We see the repetition of that, but I want you to notice too the recounting of the history of Israel. Remember who he’s talking about here. The people of Israel weren’t always very obedient. We wouldn’t look at them and say, “They were a people who deserved the love of God.” They received it, but they didn’t deserve it. Think about who they are as I read this.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
4 to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
17 to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136)

This love of endurance that God calls us to is based on who He is, and the way He loves us.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7)