Love always Protects!
When God tells us that love always protects, He means we should allow love and trust to endure. We are to accept and stand with others, believing the best of others. We can swallow the bitterness that some relationships can bring us by coating them with the sugar of love. With this kind of love, we can feel protected, and, in return, protect those around us. This does not mean we become security guards; rather, it means our actions and attitudes should be such that they project protection, and not destruction. Because God loves us so much, He does not forsake us, even though others may do so. People will always disappoint us, and we will always be disappointing to those around us, but God will never disappoint us. Love perseveres, and is an easier route than running off and abandoning relationships to which we have made a commitment. We need to be able to endure with our friends and spouse, and realize that even though they will disappoint us, we can deal with it using the right, encouraging attitude. We should realize how much God is grieved when we fail to walk in His path for our lives, and when we do not trust His protection. Love is always on the lookout for the best interests and protection of others, where gossip and strife cannot function (Isaiah 42:2-3; Matthew 11:28-30; John 14-15; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 7:6-7).
Authentic Love has staying power!
Contexts and Background:
This passage is expressing to us the ultimate insight, essence, nature, and doctrine of who and what our Lord is and is about. He is the God who covers us to protect us! This is atonement, the key component that binds us to our Lord, builds our church, fuels our relationships, and glorifies God. This is the key expression of a God who cares, is there, and who welcomes us to Him. This church in Corinth was experiencing problems that all churches experience, but to an extreme; people forcing their will and pride that brought on the envy of others-even suing one another and refusing to love and forgive. They did not realize that God protected them from His wrath and judgment; instead, they issued judgments to one another as an alternative to loving one another as Christ did to them and us. This upstaged the mission of the church, His Truth, and skewed it to follow their plan and away from God's purpose. Why are we to love and be good and truthful? Because God loves and is good to us (Psalm 86:5; 145:4-13; John 13:35)!
Commentary-Word and Phrase Meanings:
· Love. This is the edifying Love of other people that covers their faults with more understanding and acceptance. Through it, we realize that Christ accepted us! Thus, we will build others up and not tear them down; the contrast to this is to delight in their troubles! When we really trust God, we will realize we are responsible for moving ahead with our faith. It gives us an opportunity to show our good attitude and be motivated as His display, pointing to Him (Real love: Mark 12:28-31; John 3:16, Matt. 22:34-40; John 3:16; 13:1, 34-35; 14:1; 15:9; Rom. 1:31; 5:10; 12:10; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 2:4-7; Phil. 2:2; Col. 1:1-6; 3:12-14; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2:8; 3:6; 12; 4:9-10; 5:8; 13; 2 Tim. 3:3; Heb. 10:24; 1 John 4:7-12).
· Protects / beareth / covers / enduring. Means to cover like a roof that protects the occupants of a home. It also means an uncritical love that endures harshness for a greater purpose. It denotes the covering of others as Christ did when He offered real love that continually forgives. We are to overlook the faults and transgressions of others against us (within reason) with love as long as there is no abuse or dysfunction. We are also not to gossip or slander one another as the original hearers of this letter did. This aspect of love also points out to us that it is God's power that leads and protects¾not our ways or inclinations. The essential framework for building a healthy life and church is to understand that our prime purpose is to glorify Christ, not to prefer our comforts or ideas. We are to shine before Him by holding up His truth, making Him known in a dark world (Prov. 10:12; Matt. 18:21-22; 1 Cor. 9:12; Eph. 4:32; 1Thess. 3:1-5; 4:9-10; James 5:20; 1 Pet. 4: 7-11; 2 Pet. 1:7; 3:14-18; 1 John 4:7-11)!
· In God's economy, Love is measured by what we give, not what we get! It is uncritical, trusting, and continuing! This is one of the great aspects of what God does for us: He protects us from Himself! Yes, because it is solely by His acceptance of us that we are saved. There is nothing that we can add to it, such as good works or clean living. This is what Justification means-that we are justified by God's righteousness and atonement. He is covering us, protecting us from His wrath and punishment as a fireman covers a child in his fireproof coat, rescuing that little one from the flames. To God, you started the fire and even deserve the fire and all the loss and consequences thereof; but now, because His love is a mercy that covers, we are covered by what Christ has done for us. This crafts a bridge for our reconciliation to God; we were in perfect relationship to Him before the fire (fall), and now we are again in harmony (Rom. 3:23-28; 6:23; 7:18; Gal. 3:11; 5:17; Eph. 2:8-9; 1 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5).
· Here, love is not to be confined to a feeling or to an action; rather, it points to something greater than itself. It has to reset our emotions and temper our behaviors for it to be true, because it hinges on something greater; it is supported by Christ's love and this brings forth our response of gratitude. If not, all you have is sediment that is no different from the sediment that lurks beneath a garbage dump with flowers planted on top. It is a call to treat others as family because we are all in God's family, when we are in Christ (Rom. 12:10; Heb. 13:1).
· This form of love helps craft godliness in us so we live out our disposition in Christ with respect and reverence to Him in all aspects of our life. We rearrange our mindsets, priorities, and character so they line up with God and the character He bestows on us. Then we will be able to see the importance of others and the ability to equip and not tear down. We will put forth better behavior that shows our good attitude by how we treat one another as Christ did with us. This results from being focused upon Christ and not feelings and hurts so we are living a good, reverent life toward God and others because of what Christ has done in us (Psalm 15; Micah 6:8; Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31; Eph. 5:1; Col. 3:15-17; 1 Tim. 3:16; 4:8; 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22; 3:5; 2 Pet. 1:3, 6; 3 John 11; Rev 14:6).
· This form of love helps craft goodness and virtue so we strive for moral excellence, because we have engaged real love, and now we are doing the right thing. It is practicing integrity, honesty, compassion, and endearment and this is the quintessence of what Christ did for us and what biblical character is about. We acquire this enduring and covering love by our faith, our obedience to Christ, being persistent in Him, and clothing ourselves in Him. When we truly repent, we will truly represent the position that we have in Christ (Amos 5:15; Psalm 103:17; 131; Prov. 8:13; 25:22; Matthew 7:12; 19:16; Luke 6:27, 35; Rom. 12:17; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 5:8-9; Col. 3:12-17; Phil. 2:14-18; 4:8; 1Timothy 4:12; 5:22; Tit.1: 15; Heb.10: 5-10; 1 Pet. 3:11; 2 Pet. 1:3-8; 2:9).
Devotional Thoughts and Applications:
What does love's covering do for us now? By realizing who we are in Christ and that He accepts us, we have no need to put others down. Because God accepts us, we have no need to seek the approval of others. So our lives are not based on what people say or think about us when we are following Christ and His principles. Our lives are not lived by needing approval or to have power over others. My life is not motivated by others, rather motivated by God. Thus, I can rest in our Lord and trust Him because He is protecting and covering me. This mindset of love will help us dissolve our hurts, our unfulfilled expectations, fear of rejection or failure, anger, and the need to manipulate others. I do not need to be codependent on someone else when I have Christ and His covering in my life (Psalm 103:12; Matt. 26:28; John 5:24; 13:35; Rom. 8:15-17, 33-39; Gal. 1:10; 2:16; 3:6; Eph. 1:7, 13-14; Col. 1:21-22).
Does Love cover you? Do you use it to cover others? It will make you both more vulnerable and more free! You will be more content and joyful and able to be an encourager and not a criticizer. You will even mature and take others' criticism because God is your cover. Why fear? You can learn how to fine tune yourself and be better in character. We are to be fueled and empowered by love in all situations. Christian love is the turning of our backs on our self-concerns and facing those of our neighbors. It is the surrender of our will to His. If love does not take us beyond our self-interests, then we have only lust and pride, not real love! God's love must be our model for life. It must flow into us from Christ, and in return, flow out from us to those around us. God's love is the ultimate power for the Christian. Love is more than a feeling; it has segments and characters to it. Love is also a choice, a decision that must be pursued and worked on (John 13:1; 15:13; 1 Cor. 13:3)!
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me?
4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
9. What can I model and teach?
10. What does God want me to share with someone?
Read these two passages again in different translations (1 Corinthians 13:1-8; 1 John 4: 7-12)
1. Discuss your thoughts on this aspect of love.
2. Give a positive example.
3. Give a negative example.
4. How is this type of love working in you?
5. Why is this love not working in you?
6. What blocks this love from being exhibited in you?
7. What would it take to get this love working in you?
8. What are you willing to do about it?
1. Does Love cover you? Do you use it to cover and bear the frailties of others? How would this help make you more vulnerable and yet more free?
2. Why are we to love and be good and truthful? How does love edify other people and cover their faults?
3. How have you been understanding and accepting? How have you failed at it (and we all do)?
4. Why does real love protect others?How will this help you be more joyful and encouraging? What does it mean to you that Christ has accepted you?
5. Why is love not to be confined to a feeling or to an action? How does love point to something greater than itself? Can you give an example?
6. What does it take to get you interested, willing, hopeful, or excited to take the journey of a lifetime and move from your hurt, setbacks, or bad past to an undivided heart full of love? How would/does your example help others do this?
7. What causes Christians to abandon relationships to which they have made a commitment?
8. People will always disappoint us, and we will be disappointing too. So, what does it mean to you that God will never disappoint us?
9. How is real love always on the lookout for the best interests and protection of others? How do gossip and strife counter this?
10. What can you do to better overlook the faults and transgressions of others within reason and with love? What is the balance between this and taking abuse?
11. What does it mean to you to accept and stand with others, believing the best of them? How can you do this more? What would your life look like if you did this?
12. What needs to happen and what do you need to do to allow love and trust to endure in and through you? How would this radically change your relationships and improve your life? What is stopping you from being more of a real lover?
© 2010, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org/