It is Christmas Eve Day and I have much to do. First though, I’d like to talk about the season and share with my readers what it means to me. There are a number of belief systems that have winter celebrations. I’m surprised that the celebrations we have in the northern hemisphere during our coldest months are actually celebrated at the same time in the southern hemisphere where it is the warmest months. But, that is neither here nor there to the purpose of this blog post.
A dear brother in Christ regularly posts his thoughts on his Facebook page and they are always wonderful slice of life stories accompanied by a Biblical lesson. I love his posts and today I read one in which he related his experience when hurricane Andrew was about to hit the gulf coast. His wife was pregnant and they were stuck in the traffic leaving the gulf. His wife needed to rest and he tried and tried to find a motel room but just like Joseph and Mary, there was not room. He continued in the lesson that humans have chosen December 25th to celebrate the birth of Christ we have gotten involved in the celebration and have forgotten the Christ. He made a statement about churches getting caught up in the celebration and leaving out the Christ, that stirred up a bit of controversy in the comments. I understood his intent, there are congregations that claim to be Christian, but in reality they teach a different gospel than the one we were given.
I too made a comment, and I’d like to relate that comment here. ” I think I know what you meant about some churches though. Certainly not the true congregations of our Lord, but I believe there are those that claim to preach the gospel but preach another. Blessings on all and may we none forget that Christ came down to live and be among us as a man, born as a human, growing up in obedience to earthly parents, taking on his ministry as an adult in obedience to his heavenly Father, likewise we need to take on our ministry in obedience to our heavenly Father. Jesus gave us our ministry, first in order that we may be able to minister we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind and second as the actual ministry we are to love our neighbor as our self. This is the basis for the great commission, for how could we go out and make disciples if we do not love. Love is patient and kind, it is not envious or boastful, or arrogant or rude. Love is not self serving, nor is it easily angered, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love takes no delight in evil, instead it rejoices in truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails. Blessings!”
When we are faithful to read the Bible, the living Word of God, then we cannot help but learn how much God loves us and how we are to show His love to others. Only through love will we ever reach those who do not believe in God, who do not know the love of God. It takes diligent study of God’s Word to know how to live a life of service to Him. I can read the Bible daily, read it through repeatedly and get a new understanding every time. Passages that I’ve read through many times will upon reading again bring me questions as to what is meant. I have a Strong’s Concordance that I go to in those times. It is designed for the King James Version so I have to find a word or words in that version before I can continue my quest to find out just what the original text really said. Praise God for the internet and Bible Gateway. I find the words and look up the reference to the original word used in either Hebrew or Greek.
After reading the passage from which the description of love is taken in my comment I began to wonder what the difference between ‘love bears all things’ and ‘love endures all things’ which led me to wonder just what was meant by ‘all things’ and the entire verse just came to life and I needed to know what the author meant by all those words in 1 Corinthians 13:7. So I began a word search. Some words take you pretty deep into a rabbit hole.
Before looking at the traits of love I want to mention that the Greek word used is agape. In the King James Version in these versed it is translated charity, in other versions it is translated love. Years ago I was part of a study group that delved into the full implications of agape love versus other types of love. My understanding of the word may be a little more complete than some of my readers. There isn’t enough time to portray the full extent of agape love here, but a short summary is appropriate. Agape is the highest form of love. It is an unconditional, selfless and giving love. It is an actionable, benevolent love, actively seeking to ensure the well being of the one who is loved regardless of whether or not love is returned. So with this limited definition in mind lets explore the meaning of the scripture cited in the previous paragraph. Lets start with the verse in context:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
4 Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,
5 does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
7 It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
(Love) bears all things. The Greek word used for ‘bears’ is ‘stego’ which as I understand the definition given in my Strong’s Concordance says the work is from a word meaning ‘a roof’ and is interpreted as ‘cover with silence’ or to endure patiently, forebear or suffer. Taking all this into account then, I believe this means that love will suffer patiently in silence, with forbearance, which in English forbearance is defined as patient self-control with tolerance and restraint.
…believes all things. This one took me down three levels into a rabbit hole to find the the meaning of the Greek word ‘pisleuo’ as it is used in this passage. To summarize what I found: in this context ‘believes’ is having faith, conviction and assurance that the Gospel is truth itself and entrusting ones spiritual well being to Christ, relying upon Christ for salvation.
…hopes all things. Hopes, the Greek word ‘elpizo’ is pretty straight forward. The author was speaking of looking forward to or anticipating usually with pleasure, expecting with faith and confidence.
…endures all things. Ah, endures, this was another that took me to several levels and had some implications that surprised me. On the surface it means to remain, undergo trials, patiently suffer. What surprised me though in drilling down to the root words is the implication in the word ‘hupo’ of being under as in an inferior position or condition. With ‘meno’ meaning to stay, abide, continue, remain, be present, stand, tarry it seems that what the author is speaking of when saying that love endures all things is that love not only patiently suffer trials but does so from an inferior position. I believe that the author meant that love will place the other who is loved ahead of self will endure from this self imposed inferior position. I never considered that aspect before today, at least not so thoroughly.
In his commentary on this part of scripture (1 Corintians 13-4-7) Matthew Henry said something that I believe is just as significant today as it was when he wrote his commentary around 1708-1710.
Happy the man who has this heavenly fire glowing in his heart, flowing out of his mouth, and diffusing its warmth over all with whom he has to do! How lovely a thing would Christianity appear to the world, if those who profess it were more actuated and animated by this divine principle, and paid a due regard to a command on which its blessed author laid a chief stress! A new commandment give I to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another, John 13:34. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, John 13:35. Blessed Jesus! how few of thy professed disciples are to be distinguished and marked out by this characteristic!
So as we wrap presents and celebrate this Christmas, I want to say that the celebration is not what is important. The Christ who came to earth as a man and died on a cross as the sacrifice for our sins is what is important. His death, burial and most importantly, his resurrection, to overcome sin and death for us, is what is important. Do you know the Savior? If you do, do you love others as yourself to show the love of the Father to others? This is how we will be known as His followers, by our love. This is how we will fulfill our mission to go and make disciples in all the world. Love, the greatest gift of all.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
P.S. It took me all day to write this.