”Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." — 1 Corinthians 13:7, ESV
No two people are alike, and if by some miracle they are, they won’t automatically like each other for it. We are people with brokenness, sinful desires, and bad histories, so it is inevitable conflict will come. Christina and I have our fair share of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and selfishness. Fortunately, we always get back to forgiveness, communication, and love. Rather than stay stuck in a crazy cycle of conflict, we have found there are attitudes which underpin a healthy relationship. One of them resides in the little verse above.
When in conflict or disagreement with one another, 1 Corinthians 13:7 has served Christina and me well. When the flesh begins to grow angry or impatient, the Spirit will often remind us of what true love looks like, particularly this aspect. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
For many people in our modern age, love is a sappy and meaningless word. But love does not mean accepting everything, thinking critically about nothing, and believing nothing (or mutually exclusive things at the same time). Believers do not embrace a nonsensical “what-the-world-needs-now-is-love-sweet-love” approach, a feeling of bliss that magically washes over us, but a course of action that longs to get outside the self for the betterment of another. Love is what drove Jesus to come to earth to die for us. Love is what motivated the church to preach the gospel even when persecution hit. And love is what keeps a marriage alive.
Here are some ways this type of love impacts our marriage:
1 We bear the load the other cannot lift.
Since love “bears all things,” Christina and I try to help with the load the other cannot lift. I have many deficiencies and flaws in my personality; Christina works hard to compliment me in those areas. Together, we pitch in where the other is not as gifted.
For instance, Christina is gifted in reading how others might be feeling, while I can be obtuse. She has born that load many times as we’ve interacted with others and has helped me grow in reading how others might feel or think. In areas like finances, friendship, planning, entertaining, commitment, service, hospitality, generosity, chores, fun, Sabbath, sacrifice, listening, sharing, etc. one spouse will likely be stronger than the other. We try to bear with the load the other cannot lift.
2 We believe the best about the other’s intentions.
Since love “believes all things,” Christina and I try to believe the best about the other’s intentions. There are bound to be moments where we do or say something (or don’t do or don’t say something) the other finds hurtful. In those moments, the hurt person tries to believe the best, remembering the heart of the other.
We aren't the same gender. We don't have the same personality. Our backgrounds are different. Intellectually, we understand how hard it is to understand the motivation of the other. But when conflict comes, it is incredible how quickly we think we know exactly what the other person was thinking, or why they did what they did. Our flesh quickly projects dubious motives onto the other. Instead, we must slow our roll and love one another by believing the best about the other's intentions.
3 We hope for breakthroughs in the other’s life.
Since love “hopes all things,” Christina and I remain positive and confident about Christ’s work of sanctification in the other. She believes that Jesus is shaping and molding me, and I think the same for her.
We don’t hope this in a manipulative way — Here’s something to work on, sweetie, I know Jesus will help you (smile, wink). We don’t hope this is a selfish way — I can’t wait for Jesus to work that tendency out of them. My life will be so much easier when he does. No, we love one another, so we know the other is not happy with their limitations. We can see the struggle in them, the fight for growth and transformation. Moreover, no matter how many times the other falls back into old patterns, we continually hope for the breakthroughs Christ has for them.
4 We endure all weaknesses in the other’s nature.
Since love “endures all things,” Christina and I realize we must carry one another in our areas of weakness. For instance, Christina is dynamite when it comes to living in and enjoying the present, while I can tend to drift into thoughts of the future (what’s next?). She bears with that weakness in me, but carries me at times, helping me snap back to an appreciation for whatever is happening today. As she endures that imbalance in me, she helps me learn to celebrate what God is doing today, rather than exclusively fixating on what he might do tomorrow.
1 Corinthians 13:7 isn’t a marriage verse, per se, so it does have limitations when applied there. There are abuses and proclivities and lies that will crush a marriage and cannot merely be endured or believed or hoped through, but Christina and I have found that if we are both walking in the light and pursuit of God, this little verse helps us through the inevitable conflicts and pressures that arise when two become one.
> Christina and I have tried to build our marriage upon God and his word. We have appreciated all the passages in the Bible which speak directly to the married life.
> But we have also loved many other Scriptures which have helped our marriage. In this short four-part series, I will write about four of those Scriptures. In each, I will elaborate on the principle found there, along with how it has applied to our marriage. Our prayer is that every believing marriage would find grace and strength in the word of Christ.
> Read the entire series > here> .