Beareth all things. Typically, when we use the word "bear" as a verb, we use it as a synonym for the word "endure," or to say it bluntly, "to put up with." And Paul does get to that point at the end of verse seven, but he's not there just yet. First, he wants to discuss how love bears all things in the sense that it covers or protects.
The word "bear" here is the same Greek word that is translated as "roof or covering." Those of you who have followed my writing for any amount of time will remember that Jason and I were blessed with a new metal roof a little while back. Our shingled roof had been leaking for years, and the problem had grown severe enough that a heavy rain shower required several buckets in the attic. It was a mess. It was a pain. And, let me tell you, it was a major stressor to me, so words cannot describe how thankful I am for our new roof. Not only does it keep in the heat and air, but it keeps out the harsh elements like wind and rain.
True love works in the same way. It keeps some things in and other things out. Let's discuss first what it keeps in.
When two people are in a relationship (be it family, marriage, friends, etc.), there is an unspoken understanding that private things stay private. Things spoken in confidence to a loved one should never be shared with anyone else. Likewise, the faults (or perceived faults) of another should not be publicized or become fuel for the latest gossip session. Just this past weekend, Jason was speaking with another man who was ranting about his girlfriend. Jason was speechless and didn't know how to respond to such open criticism of someone who was supposedly loved by this man. He understands that if you have an issue with someone, it should stay between you and that someone (and God, of course). Unfortunately, most people don't get that. It's not uncommon to hear someone speaking ill of a spouse, family member, friend, church member, coworker or the like. That's not what love does. Besides, how does this help anyone? Not only does it reinforce negative thoughts and attitudes in the one who is doing the telling, but it places the other person in the line of fire of ridicule, which brings me to the second function of a roof--keeping things out.
Love seeks to protect the other person from harm, ridicule and any negative influences. It shields the object of its affection from anything that may endanger or hinder them in any way. Christian author, Wayne Mack says, “When we tell someone ‘I love you,’ we are telling that person that we will function as an umbrella or a roof that will shield and protect that person from harm or unnecessary and unhelpful exposure.” Love acts as a barrier against anything and everything that is not suitable or advantageous.
As I typed the previous paragraph, the Lord convicted my heart about an issue that took place this weekend. I was warring against the same old negativity and trusting my feelings more than the truth, and Jason called me on it. At the time, I felt he was being cruel and uncompassionate. I wanted him to hold me, coddle me, and tell me everything was going to be okay. But instead, he pointed out that I was choosing to trust my feelings, and as long as I kept doing that, I'd keep fighting the same battles over and over again. NOT what I wanted to hear, but do you remember what yesterday's lesson on love was? It rejoices in the truth.
Jason was speaking the truth, and it certainly did hurt. In fact, I didn't want to accept it (or rejoice in it), and even after we'd come to an understanding, I continued to harbor resentment for the way he handled the situation. But now, I see so clearly that he was acting as my roof. He was trying to protect me from the negative forces threatening to destroy me. He wasn't being mean; he was acting in love. And I'm humbled that he would risk my wrath (and let me tell you, sometimes it's downright ugly) because he cared so much for my overall wellbeing. Yes, I might be angry for a day or two, but if he could get the truth to sink into my stubborn brain, he would save me years of tears and frustration.
The next time you hear the phrase, "love bears all things," imagine a roof, keeping in things that have no business being shared and keeping out things that would harm or hinder your loved one. And then, make use of that roof in all your relationships, or better yet, become the roof itself.