1 Corinthians 13:4-8 AMPC Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. (5) It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. (6) It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. (7) Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. (8) Love never fails…
(Much of the content for this message comes from the book: Renner, Rick. Sparkling Gems From The Greek Vol. 1: 365 Greek Word Studies For Every Day Of The Year To Sharpen Your Understanding Of God’s Word, Harrison House Publishers)
Agape – This is the highest kind of love that loves selflessly and sacrificially.
- Agape love is not based on feelings; it is based on a decision.
It refers to a choice or a decision of the heart to love someone. It is used to describe God’s love. His love is the highest form of love. Agape is a divine love that gives and gives and gives, even if it’s never responded to, thanked, or acknowledged. You could say that agape is a love that isn’t based on response but on a decision to keep on loving, regardless of a recipient’s response or lack of response.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes.
The eleventh point that Paul makes in this wonderful text is that love “bears up under anything…” The word “bears” means to cover, as a roof covers a house. Built within this Greek word is the concept of protection, exactly as a roof protects, shields, and guards the inhabitants of a house from exposure to the outside influences of weather. The roof of a house is designed to shield people from storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, rain, hail, snow, wind, blistering hot temperatures, and so on. This protection is vital for survival in most climates, preventing people from either freezing to death or burning as a result of continual exposure to sunlight.
By using this word, the apostle Paul is giving us a powerful illustration. First, we must understand that there are many different seasons to life, and not all seasons are pleasurable. In fact, some seasons of life are very stormy and difficult. There are moments when external circumstances assail us from without. If we have no shield to guard us during these stormy times, it becomes much more difficult for us to survive spiritually. Paul lets you know that agape serves like a protection for you.
- Like the roof of a house, a friend who moves in the agape love of God will stay near in times of trouble and will hover over you to protect you from the storms of life.
Rather than expose you and your flaws to the view of others, a person who operates in this kind of love will conceal, cover, and protect you, for real agape love is always there in times of trouble to lend support.
Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person.
The word “believes” is actually the Greek word meaning to put one’s faith or trust in something or someone. The tense used in the Greek text lets us know that this is a constant, continuous entrusting of one’s faith in something or someone — involving a “never-give-up” kind of belief that something will turn out the very best. In light of this, the Greek phrase could actually be taken to mean that love “believes the best in every situation.”
Don’t misunderstand; agape love isn’t stupid, nor is it blind. It sees everything — the good, the bad, and the ugly. But because agape is so filled with faith, it pushes the disconcerting, disturbing, negative realities out of the way. This doesn’t mean agape ignores problems or challenges.
- Love makes a choice to see beyond the problems and conflicts, to strain forward to see the highest potential that resides in every person.
Although the past may have been filled with troubled times, the future is bright for those who believe God! Therefore, agape continually presses ahead full of faith — reaching forward by faith to see the other person whole, sound, healed, saved, redeemed, and right in the middle of God’s will for his or her life. You see, the agape love of God just doesn’t know how to quit! It hangs on even when the going gets tough! It just keeps believing the very best, no matter what.
So, I urge you to take a good, honest look at yourself to see if you are operating in this kind of high-level love. Do you strain forward to believe the best, or do you pick people apart and point out all their flaws and weaknesses? Do you see their potential through the eyes of love, or do you look on them through eyes of criticism? Never forget that love believes the best!
Love’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances.
The Greek word for “hopes” is a word which depicts not only a hope, but an expectation of good things. This means that rather than assuming failure or a bad result in someone’s life, the agape love of God always expects the best in someone else. It not only expects it, but it is filled with an anticipation to see the manifestation of the thing hoped for. The phrase “Love’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances” could be taken to mean:
- Love always expects and anticipates the best in others and the best for others.
Love endures everything [without weakening].
The word “endures” is the compound Greek word which means under, and the other which means to stay or to abide. Compounded together, it depicts the attitude of a person who is under a heavy load but refuses to surrender to defeat because he knows he is in his place. Because this person knows he is where he’s supposed to be, he has therefore decided that regardless of what tries to come against him, he is going to stay put and refuse to move! This means agape never quits or throws in the towel.
- Agape love simply doesn’t know how to quit.
Real agape says, “I’m committed to be here — to stay with you and to work it out, regardless of the cost or the time involved. I am not quitting. I am here to stay!” This kind of love is completely contrary to the flesh, which says, “I’ve done all I’m going to do. I’m not wasting any more of my life. I’m finished, and I’m leaving!”
Would others say that you have been a “roof” for them — protecting, covering, concealing, and guarding them during the hard and difficult seasons of life? Would others say you believe the best about people, or that you tend to be nit-picky and critical of others? Have you made the decision to “stick it out,” regardless of how long it takes?
Love never fails.
As Paul comes to the conclusion of his fabulous text about the agape love of God, he concludes powerfully in verse 8 by affirming that love “…never fails….” The word “fails” is a word that dates back to classical Greece and generally means to fall from a high position. It was also used on rare occasions to depict a warrior who fell in battle. In many places the word is used to depict falling into ruin, into destruction, into some kind of misfortune, or into disappointment.
In First Corinthians 13:8, Paul uses this word to affirm the eternal truth that love never disappoints or fails. It is simply the truth that human beings often fail each other. I’m sure you have felt let down by someone else at some point along the way. And if you’re honest about your own dealings with others, you’ll have to admit that you have been guilty of letting others down as well.
- Agape love never disappoints, never fails, and never lets anyone down.
It is a love that can always be depended on and is always reliable. People you know and respect may occasionally fall from the high position they hold in life — and that can be an emotionally difficult experience for you when you see it happen. Other times, fellow warriors may fall in battle or stumble into some kind of misfortune that disappoints you, and that is painful as well. But you can be sure that the agape love of God will never fail you or let you down. This love is constant, unchanging, and unbendable. It is a love you will always find to be reliable and true — a love on which you can depend.
Pastor Renner has compiled all the words, phrases, and translations we have been studying and placed them here as one complete text for us. Take a few minutes to read this text slowly; then ask yourself, “Do I pass the love test? Or does this reveal that I need to mature more in this part of my life?”
“Love patiently and passionately bears with others for as long as patience is needed;
Love doesn’t demand others to be like itself; rather, it is so focused on the needs of others that it bends over backwards to become what others need it to be;
Love is not ambitious, self-centered, or so consumed with itself that it never thinks of the needs or desires that others possess;
Love doesn’t go around talking about itself all the time, constantly exaggerating and embellishing the facts to make it look more important in the sight of others;
Love does not behave in a prideful, arrogant, haughty, superior, snooty, snobbish, or clannish manner;
Love is not rude and discourteous — it is not careless or thoughtless, nor does it carry on in a fashion that would be considered insensitive to others;
Love does not manipulate situations or scheme and devise methods that will twist situations to its own advantage;
Love does not deliberately engage in actions or speak words that are so sharp, they cause an ugly or violent response;
Love does not deliberately keep records of wrongs or past mistakes;
Love does not feel overjoyed when it sees an injustice done to someone else but is elated, thrilled, ecstatic, and overjoyed with the truth;
Love protects, shields, guards, covers, conceals, and safeguards people from exposure;
Love strains forward with all its might to believe the very best in every situation;
Love always expects and anticipates the best in others and the best for others;
Love never quits, never surrenders, and never gives up;
Love never disappoints, never fails, and never lets anyone down.”