1 CORINTHIANS 13:7d-8
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
XIV. ENDURETH ALL THINGS
1 Corinthians 13:7d “. . . endureth all things.”
This denotes carrying on, whatever the obstacles. This word is used of the endurance of the soldier who in the thick of battle is not dismayed, but continues to lay about him lustily. Love is not overwhelmed, but manfully plays its part whatever the difficulties (Morris). Love endures not only with passive resignation, but with triumphant fortitude. When George Matheson lost his sight, he prayed he might accept God’s will “not with dumb resignation but with holy joy; not only with the absence of murmur, but with a song of joy.”
A grumpy and negative attitude toward one’s lot in life is a reflection on God. Love knows the “father’s hand will never cause a needless tear.” Setbacks, heartaches, tragedies, and problems can serve a purpose in our lives. Grief is nearsighted and holds its troubles close up, but love is longsighted and looks at the events of life in all points of view. How do you think Jesus sometimes felt–the son of God as a carpenter? Do not quarrel with your lot in life. “The world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education” (Drummond). We are learning to be like Christ: “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His son” (RM 8:20). God is working in us, making us patient, humble, generous, kind. Do not grudge the hand which is molding you into something beautiful. Do not be like little children who fight when a parent tries to make them pretty by washing their face or combing their hair. Every trial you face and overcome adds to your beauty in God’s eyes. Therefore, do not rebel and give up. Stay in the midst of trouble and difficulties and obstacles. Goethe said, “Talent develops itself in solitude; character in the stream of life.” You will learn to love and be like Christ by staying in the center of activities and learning to endure all things without rebelling. you will never be like Jesus till you have borne burdens and carried a cross. All sunshine makes a desert.
XV. LOVE NEVER FAILS
1 Corinthians 13:8 “Charity never faileth: but whether there
be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there
be tongues, they shall cease; whether there
be knowledge, it shall vanish away.”
This verb translated “faileth” was commonly used for “to fall.” It is often used in the sense of “collapse” or “suffering ruin.” Since love never fails, we are assured of at least four things about it:
A. LOVE IS ALWAYS APPROPRIATE.
There is no position in which the believer can possibly be found in which love will not be an ornament and a delight. The Holy Spirit is always a perfect gentleman. Jesus handled embarrassing situations with love. When the four could not get their friend through the crowd, they broke a hole in the roof in the middle of Jesus’ preaching (MK 2). Jesus said, “Arise, take up thy bed, and go thy way.” At the home of Simeon the Pharisee, a prostitute came to anoint Jesus’ feet. She wept, washed his feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair, kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment. Simeon was appalled; but Jesus said, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
Love is never out of place. However, preaching and knowledge often get in the way. Knowledge can be destructive. If it has not blossomed into wisdom, it is more of an encumbrance than an ornament. It can be a nuisance. As one evangelist said, “Mention the second coming; an old Christian will immediately ask, ‘Are you pre-, post-, or a-?’ A new Christian will say, ‘When? Where? Come, Lord Jesus.'”
Sometimes we blunder by trying to use knowledge or prophecy. Often we barge into a funeral home and tell the bereaved, “God knows best; it’s His will.” This is no time for prophecy or knowledge, just love. At the funeral of a girl who rode one of our Gosnell church buses, the family did not care about my knowledge or ability to preach. They just needed to feel loved. I was with a lady one day when surgery revealed her husband was in the final stages of cancer. There was nothing to say or do, but to love her. Whatever the situation, love is appropriate, for love never fails.
B. LOVE IS ALWAYS MIGHTY.
Love is powerful. It has to be the world’s most potent force. Life itself is powerless without love. Healthy babies have been known to die for no clinical reason other than no love. A lady in New York City committed suicide. For days her diary read, “No one came today.”
Why do you want to live tomorrow? It is because there is someone who loves you, and whom you want to see tomorrow, and be with, and love back. There is no other reason why we should live on than that we love and are beloved (Drummond).
I get up each day for Jesus, but I go home each day for the love of my wife and children. At times of stress, defeat, discouragement, the love of Christ through Ruth has sustained me. For me, life’s power source is love. It maintains me.
The same holds true in the spiritual realm. Love is the power source for effective spiritual living. What made Paul the aggressive man he was? 2 Cor. 5:14 says, “the love of Christ constraineth us.” He was caught in the grip of love.
Love for Jesus produces righteousness. For the sake of obedience, a man will fetch as little water as possible. However, tell the same man his wife is dying for the lack of water, and he will fetch water until he drops in exhaustion. What’s the difference? LOVE. As Eliot, missionary to the Indians, grew older, his strength seemed to increase even as his physical body declined. What kept him going? Not long before he died, he said, “I have lost everything; my understanding leaves me, my utterance fails me, my memory fails me; but I thank God my love holds out still; and I find it rather grows than fails.” Love was his power source. Even after George W. Truett slipped into a coma, he continually pleaded, “Come to Jesus, Come to Jesus.”
As a church, our power source for reaching others lies in love. The world wants to withdraw from us, and we tend to react the same way, but we must not let them slip away. We must express our love to them some way. When we love them, they will respond. They look at us as enemy, but we must convince them otherwise. The love of the father drew the prodigal back home. The love of the Father through us will drive the world back to us. When we love them, we will win them, for love never fails.
C. LOVE ALWAYS ABIDES.
1. Love leaves cherished memories. You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments which stand out, the moments when you have really lived, are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love (Drummond). When Bertha Mason’s grandchild died, I knew, even as a teenager, all I could do was love. You remember loving deeds done for you; Uncle Dan clipped a news story about my being licensed and kept it on his desk. I was moved when I saw it. Grandma stepped from the crowd and said, “Little Johnny, we love you and miss you.”
You may think I am emotional and irrational. Maybe so. But we have let our faith become too much a thing of the head rather than of the heart. What is it of Christ’s life you cherish most in your memory? Sermons? Knowledge? Tongues? Miracles? NO, the Cross! You remember this everlasting monument to love. When I am long gone, you will not remember many words I have said. You will remember funerals and visits and my hours of preparation, for love never fails.
2. Love lasts forever. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it” (SS 8:7). Teenagers now often know more than Sir Isaac Newton did. We burn yesterday’s newspaper and buy old editions of encyclopedias for nickels and dimes.
Love alone will last. Nothing is wrong with other things in themselves, but they just will not last. Prophecy and tongues will be completely removed, our imperfect knowledge will be replaced by perfect knowledge. Nothing they contain is worth the life and consecration of an immortal soul. The immortal soul must give itself to something that is immortal (Drummond). Hold things in their proportion. We play fiddles while Rome burns. Our emphases are all wrong.
Can you imagine us in heaven bragging about our preaching, knowledge, tongues, etc.? It will be as out of place as what my brother asked me during a tense moment of a ball game: “Should I buy a guitar?”
Can you imagine listening to Jesus and then bragging on our preaching; hearing heavenly choirs and then bragging on our singing; bragging to angels about how far spaceships flew? Only love will last forever. Those loving deeds will have effect forever. Yet we emphasize secondary things.
Love will enter Heaven, where the others have no place. When the apostles went to Heaven, they left behind all their miraculous gifts. They carried only love with them, stepped on God’s scales, and were weighed accordingly. Matthew 25 does not mention sins of commission, but sins of omission. We will be judged according to the love we have shown: Hungry, ye gave me meat; Thirsty, ye gave me drink; Stranger, ye took, me in; Naked, ye clothed me; Sick, ye visited me; In prison, ye came unto me. When all is tested, deeds of love will be the ones pleasing to Jesus, for love never fails.
D. LOVE IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE.
We can have it anytime we want it. If we want to feel loved, Jesus is willing to fill us at any moment. If we want to love, His Spirit will flow through us. Not all can preach, speak with tongues, or have knowledge, but all can love. It is the universal gift. Jesus offers a never-ending supply, for love never fails.