Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (NIV)
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (KJV)
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (NAS)
Love Bears All Things
Although only around a dozen words in length, these few words of 1 Corinthians 13: 7 can go a long way. In fact, the translation of “all things” alone has caused great mystery among interpreters and theological scholars. There is a lot of philosophical discussion over all the things “all things” could possibly mean.
Love Like a Roof?
While the possibilities are still broad when we read that love bears all things, we know that the bearing described here is intended to convey the idea of the support that a roof provides. The word “bears” is broad in the sense of helping others. As we love our children and “bear all things, ” we learn to support, protect, and cover them.
We’ve often heard phrases like “love does,” “love is a verb,” or “love is active.” Those statements remind us that a loving person does loving things. There’s more to love than a smiling face and a sweet tone of voice. When Paul wrote this statement, “love bears,” he used a word that has to do with roofing. How loving is a roof?
The word picture here is stunning, once we let the implications sink in. A roof covers, protects, and shelters its inhabitants. It is there to withstand pelting rain, unbearable sun rays, and even to provide privacy. A roof is a protector. That’s what love is supposed to do — protect, shield, shelter, and cover.
Let’s bring that into the parenting arena for a moment. Our children need to be defended and protected. We live in a big, dangerous world. Our children are put into our care for their protection. There is sometimes an attitude toward parenting that expects kids to be tough and grow up, and there is a degree to which we need to empower our children by giving them independence, respect, and responsibility. But a three-year old might not be prepared to protect herself from dangers she isn’t even aware of, or harmful things that she can’t see. Our babies don’t learn to survive on their own by leaving them to themselves to tough it out. Our preteens don’t grow when given emotional burdens too heavy for them to carry alone. Our teens often need supporting structure and sheltering trust. Our children need us to be their roof.
Children need physical protection; that’s quite obvious. (And perhaps the easiest, when we get to the other areas and realize the heavy responsibility.) What we feed them, how we treat them — these are important elements of protecting them. They need spiritual protection. They need to be protected from the direct influence of wrongdoers. They sometimes need to be protected from their own foolishness. They need emotional protection that supports and bears the hardships of life as the gradually grow from tender plants into strong pillars of trees. And to broaden this analogy, when we place the crushing burdens of life on them prematurely, we do more damage to the small saplings than we do to strengthen it. Love that bears all things is a patient love.
Love that bears all things is an encompassing protection, yet this love that protects and cover–love that bears–is one that, when combined with the other aspects of love, eventually even protects them from the over-parenting, hovering, and over-protectiveness that can subtly creep in wearing the mask of this sort of love. It’s a big order, but that’s what this description of love is all about — protecting, covering, bearing.
Others in this Series:
- Introduction: 1 Corinthians 13 Meditations for Moms
- Love is Patient
- Love is Kind
- Love Does Not Envy or Boast
- Love Does Not Insist on Its Owns Way
- Love Does Not Keep Records of Wrongs
- Love Rejoices in the Truth, Not Evil