1 Corinthians 13:5d-7c
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
1 Cor. 13:5d “. . .thinketh no evil;”
The Greek word “logizetai” can be translated as “thinketh” or as “accounteth.” Since each is applicable, we will study both possibilities.
Love “thinketh no evil” is a phrase given for the suspicious, those who often apply negative motives to good things other people do. Love is always ready to think the best of people.
The world is full of people who seem to regard even the best of people as defects. However, the problem often is not in others, but in our own suspicious self. Sometimes we suspect the motives of others because we know our own motives are suspect. Viewed through flawed glass, even the loveliest scene will be ugly and distorted. If we have a mental flaw and look unlovingly at others, we will see only evil in them.
Love imputes no motive, sees the bright side, puts the best construction on every action (Drummond). Love never indulges suspicion without proofs. Love hardly gives in to an ill opinion of another, and does so with regret and reluctance when the evidence cannot be resisted.
Churches succeed when Christians trust one another, when kindness is not met with suspicion. In an atmosphere of suspicion, Christians shrivel. Let us not only do kind deeds, but also rejoice when others do kind deeds.
“Logizetai” became used in the ancient world in a technical way. It was connected with the keeping of accounts, noting a thing down and reckoning it to someone. “Logizetai” became an accountant’s word for entering up an item in a ledger so that it would not be forgotten. Thus, our text can be translated “love accounteth no evil,” meaning “love keeps no score of wrong” (NEB), or “love does not keep a record of wrongs” (TEV).
This is precisely what many of us need to do. One of the great arts of life is to learn what to forget. Unfortunately, many people nurse their wrath to keep it warm (Barclay). Many marriages would be stronger if the hatchet could be totally buried. Our problem is, when we bury the hatchet, we leave the handle sticking out so we can grab it in case of emergency.
Much of the world is miserable due to accounted wrongs. People are tormented by their deeds which have not been forgiven by others, or they keep bringing up someone else’s past. Love could bring relief to masses of people in moments. The world is dying for LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!
We can never overestimate the importance of love. Jesus said, “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believes in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (MT 18:6). In other words, “it is the deliberate verdict of the Lord Jesus that it is better not to live than not to love” (Drummond). Life loses meaning and purpose without love.
Love alone can give us the power to reach and transform lives. At New Bedford Prison years ago a man was serving a life sentence. He was considered very dangerous and had planned outbreaks and mutinies. Repeated punishments had proven vain. One day he was scrubbing floors when a group of visitors went by. The warden asked him to carry a little girl up some steps. He scowled and hesitated until the little girl said, “If you will, I’ll kiss you.” He looked at her a moment and then carried her up the stairs. Before setting her down, she kissed him and then raised her cheek. He kissed her and returned to scrubbing. He was never the same. The kindness of a child in some way uplifted his life.
1 Cor. 13:6 “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”
The sins of others strike love to the quick and stir all its compassion. Love has no delight in hearing derogatory things about others. People will quit saying ugly things about others when we stop enjoying the stories. If you are base enough to make yourself the common sewer of the church, if men know they may run the rubbish of society through the conduit of your ignorance, they will avail themselves of that miserable opportunity (Parker).
Love does not enjoy sin by proxy. It takes no joy in hearing of, or seeing, evils committed by others. Sins we would not do, we often enjoy hearing about, or seeing done by others. Suggestive movies, filthy books, sex magazines–these all dull sin-consciousness. Sometimes we rejoice not in committing sin, but in contemplating it. Evil thoughts are harbored, dirty pictures examined, filthy stories rehearsed. We let evil thoughts roll under our tongue, we enjoy the vile morsel. Love “rejoiceth not in iniquity.”
A loving person is never soft on sin, whatever shape it takes. Love knows the awful consequences of iniquity and wants to spare people. If you have lost your hatred for sin, you have lost your love for people. As Billy Sunday said, “You can’t love flowers unless you hate weeds.”
Love “rejoiceth in the truth,” when people are transformed by the word of God. Ours is the joy of the woman finding her lost coin, of the shepherd finding his lost sheep, of the father receiving his prodigal son, of the angels and God at the sight of one sinner repenting.
1 Cor. 13:7a “. . .Beareth all things,. . .”
“Beareth” is literally “outroofeth.” What does a roof do? Prevents the storm from harming, and keeps inhabitants dry and warm. Man should be to man a protecting roof. Catch the storm yourself. Keep it from another’s life (Parker). If you have love, you will be a protecting garment for others.
In everyday language “beareth” took on the specific meaning of “to cover,” as in a secret. Love seeks to conceal what is displeasing in another. It dreads to drag into the light of day the faults and mistakes of others. Love would rather quietly mend things than publicly display them. It stands in the presence of a fault, with a finger on her lip (CHS). Love imitates the pearl oyster. Instead of ejecting an evil particle, it coats the substance and turns it into a pearl. Love does for others the very thing it asks God to do for self: hides its face from, shuts its eyes to, the shame of sin while quietly trying to eliminate the sin.
1 Cor. 13:7b “. . .believeth all things,. . .”
This phrase is similar in meaning to “thinketh no evil” (13:5d). Moffat reads, “Always eager to believe the best.” It is difficult to make a mother believe the faults of her absent son. Even if she does believe it, she makes excuses for him. Love is always ready to give the benefit of the doubt.
Trust must be placed in God. Love takes God at His word and displays absolute confidence. Love says with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Love says, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Love trusts God implicitly and trusts man until evidence dictates otherwise.
1 Cor. 13:7c “. . .hopeth all things,. . .”
Love has a forward look which never despairs. This is not unreasoning optimism which denies reality, but rather a refusal to take failure as final. Adam Clarke became a great theologian, but was slow in school. One day his teacher publicly told a visitor, “That is the stupidest boy in the school,” and pointed to Adam. The visitor later came by to encourage Adam, “Never mind, my boy, you may be a great scholar someday. Don’t be discouraged, just try hard and keep on trying.” Those words helped Adam.
What makes a Christian mother cling to prayers for a wayward son when all others give up? LOVE. What makes a dear wife remain loyal to a wretched husband in spite of what others think? LOVE. Though often disappointed, love continues to hope.
Love believes light is shining at the end of the tunnel. In 1883 a boy of ten was working in a factory in Naples. He longed to sing, but his first teacher said, “You can’t sing. You haven’t any voice at all. It sounds like the wind in the shutters.” His poor peasant mother disagreed. She encouraged him and went barefoot to pay for his music lessons. A mother’s praise and encouragement changed Enrico Caruso.
Love will use its hope to prop up others. When we see someone’s life falling, lend a helping hand. If this does not work, add pity, compassion, and prayer. When all else fails, share your hope. A young man in London wanted to be a writer, but the world seemed against him. He had been able to attend school only four years. His father spent much time in jail for bad debts. This young man had often felt hunger pangs. He got a job in a rat infested warehouse and slept at night in an attic room in the slums. He tried to write, but story after story was rejected. Finally, one editor accepted a story, praised him, and gave him hope. The young man was so thrilled that he wandered aimlessly around the streets with tears rolling down his cheeks. Thus was born the career of Charles Dickens.
A young man was once on the verge of suicide. For two years he had worked 14 hours a day in a dry-goods store. An old school master heard of his despair, visited him, praised his intellectual ability, and offered him a teaching job. Thus was spared the life of H. G. Wells. If you have lost hope for yourself and others, love is declining, for “love hopeth all things.”