1 Corinthians 13:7 “Love never gives up”
The word that is used here means a roof or covering and the idea Paul is portraying is that love covers and protects like a roof covers a house and protects it from the storms. Love provides a protective cover over those it loves. Instead of airing the pain of another’s sins love builds a compassionate roof over the sinner not to condone sin but extending itself to the one who sins. 1 Peter 4:8 says “Love covers a multitude of sins.” It doesn’t cover up but instead protects by keeping out the resentment just as a ship keeps out the sea or a roof the rain. Love is the roof that bears the storms of disappointment laden with the rains of failure, and driven by the winds of time and circumstance. Love provides a covering that shields others from the biting extremes of the freezing winters and sweltering summer sun. Love provides that place of shelter enabling others to withstand the worst circumstances imaginable. This is the example of Jesus whose love for us bore what we could not. This does not mean that love passively bears all sin in the way a doormat passively takes the feet of its users. Some believe that love bearing means that love does not complain, yet what it means is that love never stops caring and never stops offering forgiveness and a place of restoration. Love never gets to the place where it begins hating, despising, and condemning others. Love never protects sin but it always desires to restore the sinner. Love cares enough to keep praying, to take every opportunity to patiently endure the sin of others, to confront when necessary, yet is always ready to forgive and ready to reconcile at repentance.
Leviticus 16:14 reminds us that the mercy seat where the blood of atonement was sprinkled was a covering, not only for the ark itself but also for the sins of the people. The mercy seat was provided by Jesus on the cross in His great propitiatory sacrifice (Rom. 3:25-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2). Through the cross God threw the great mantle of His love, the shed blood of Jesus, over sin, forever covering it for those who trust in His Son. By nature, love is redemptive, it wants to buy back instead of enslave, to save instead of condemn and judge. Love feels the pain of those it loves, helping to carry the burden of hurt and is even willing to take the consequences of the sin of those it loves. Isaiah wrote of Jesus Christ, “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down ….He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins, He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isa. 53:4-5). Today we are more focused on our rights than a roof that will bear the barrage of the storm. We focus on what we feel is fair willing to expose the vulnerable to the brutality of life without love.
The poem, ‘Curfew Must not Ring Tonight’ by Rose Hartwick Thorpe written in 1867 reminds me of the protective power of a love that never gives up. It is based on an incident during the reign of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) as ‘Lord Protector’ of England. It describes the deep love between Bessie, a young and beautiful girl, and Basil Underwood a young soldier who is charged with a crime and imprisoned. He was tried, found guilty and condemned to be shot dead at the moment when the bell rings to signal the evening curfew. The executioners waiting to hear the curfew bell to carry out the execution look to the bell-ringer. At exactly the prescribed moment grabs the large rope pulling it with full force, the bell swings out but there is no sound. He pulls several times and despite the movement the bell is silent. Cromwell sends soldiers to investigate the strange occurrence and discover that Bessie, the soldier’s fiancé had climbed to the top of the bell tower and tied herself to the huge clapper hanging in the heavy bell to prevent its striking against the bell. Bessie is knocked back and forth and smashed between the bell and the clapper with every pull of the rope. Her head, hands and ribs are smashed as she tried to protect that which she loved and she is taken before Cromwell bruised and bleeding. Cromwell is deeply moved by her willingness to suffer for love and immediately pardons the prisoner. Turning to Bessie he says, “Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice, curfew shall not ring tonight.” True love enables us to bear the injury and endure the insult. Paul writes “I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. Sometimes loving means quietly enduring the blows and sheltering others from the pain.
Loves protective shelter provides a positive perspective from which to view others and determines not only what we focus on but also what we point out. Do you look for people’s faults, consciously or unconsciously, do you pick at them or do you look at people’s positive characteristics and concentrate there? Love is an action rooted in a choice for the good of others. The power of love is seen in its perseverance and willingness to endure the storm. Maybe today you feel like throwing in the towel and giving up, you question how long you can hold on but Jesus doesn’t call us to hang on He calls us to love on. Today who is Jesus calling you to build a covering of love around, is it in your marriage, with your kids, at work or in school? Is it time for you to let go and stop holding on so you can be free to love on?