“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7, KJV)
In 1973, I was in the United States Army Ranger School. One phase of the training was in mountaineering. We had to learn how to negotiate mountains. This included climbing and descending. Some say that descending is the easy part and I guess it is, but in descending one does not want a hard landing. This phase of the training was in Dahlonega Georgia. We spent days at the side of a granite outcropping learning and practicing climbing up and rappelling down the mountain. I remember climbing up the mountain. It came easy to me. Perhaps it was because I was always a skinny guy that had to focus on technique rather than brawn to get things done. Anyway, I remember climbing to the top and then sitting there overlooking the valley. It was a serene view combined with a real sense of accomplishment of having climbed up over the edge of a cliff. I had, in a sense, taken the high ground and it felt good.
Paul wrote about love to the church in Corinth. In this section of the letter, he presented the high ground of agape. Oh, it is not easy to get to the pinnacle of this love, but when one does, there is no better place to be.
When we look at how Paul described what love is and what love is not, we see a picture of contrasts to the reactions of the flesh, that is the sinful nature, and the way of the Spirit. Love is longsuffering and kind. It does not envy or promote itself. It is not puffed up. It does not operate in a way that will put others off. It is not self-seeking but sees others as more important. It is not easily provoked to anger. It does not keep a record of wrongs, that is to hold grudges. It does not rejoice in injustices and unrighteousness, but rather rejoices with the truth of God and His righteousness.
Paul sums up the pinnacle of love in verse seven stating that love “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Love is a protective covering that bears all things. It will bear with the shortcomings of others that like us are still growing in the faith.
Love trusts all things, but is not gullible. Love brings us to understand that God is actively working in every situation of life for our good (Rom 8:28). We many not like all the circumstances, but we know that He is in control and that He loves us.
Love hopes in all things. Hope is that confident expectation that God will keep His promises. It is hope that keeps us moving forward in this life, realizing that God is using us to bless others with the gospel. It is the confident expectation of a future with Christ in heavenly reward.
Love endures all things.the injustices of those who revile us. It covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8). It is what keeps us from losing our cool when people revile us and not retaliate. It is that which causes us to respond with kindness and not be puffed up or self-seeking.
Love is what moves us to climb the mountains of life and rejoice in the prospect of reaching the pinnacle.