Let’s face it. People let us down. Whether by friends, spouses, parents, coworkers, clergy, or fellow believers in Christ, we all have been hurt at times. In spite of this, the Bible commands us to love these people–which is always a difficult task in itself–but we know it to be true. So, we say things like, I love this person, but I just don’t trust them anymore. This leads us to ask an important question: Does love require us to trust?
From 1 Corinthians 13, we know, “Love is patient, love is kind…” and the list goes on. Near the end of the list we see an interesting phrase that I had not understood for many years: Love believes all things. I certainly do not think the Apostle Paul is advocating believing everything you hear, so what is he saying?
In order to understand it, it will be helpful to look at the next “Love is…” in the list. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says that love “hopes all things.” Interestingly enough, there is a verse in the Bible that talks about how belief and hope relate to each other:
Heb. 11:1 (ESV) – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Essentially, here is the definition of faith we see here: hoping for something that is not yet manifest, and being sure or confident that this unseen thing will manifest. For instance, I may be exercising faith by purchasing a lottery ticket. I start with a hope that this ticket is a winner, then I put my entire confidence in that hope, in which I begin to act as if that $90 million is already mine. Though (in this example) my faith may be misplaced, that is what faith looks like.
Belief and faith are generally used interchangeably in the Bible. They mean “trust”. So, insert that in the context of 1 Corinthians 13.
Say, you have a friend who has betrayed you. In order to exercise “love hopes all things”, you must start thinking, “I hope that my friend will not betray me again,” or rather, “I have hope that my friend will not betray me again. Then, by exercising “love believes all things”, you take it a step further. You do not merely have hope, but confidence in that hope that your friend will not betray you. So, believing all things is having faith in that person. “Love believes all things” essentially means, love trusts.
I would argue that you could also say “love believes all good things” about the person. The facts may be that this person is a backstabber, liar, or manipulator who is unworthy of trust, but an outflow of love calls forth words of truth–words that may not yet be manifest, but that you believe will manifest. In spite of what they have done to you in the past, you decide to believe that they are a loyal, honest, and trustworthy friend. You are believing the best in them instead of the negative you see in the natural.
Wow, that is hard! And it can only be accomplished through the Holy Spirit working in us. Remember, the first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. This love is activated by submitting to the Spirit and also by resting in the love the Father has for you because you cannot reproduce what you have not received yourself.
I was recently convicted by this truth that love requires trust. Ministry is meant to flow out of love. That is the whole premise of 1 Corinthians 13: you can have extreme faith, you can prophesy, you can suffer persecution, you can give all your money to the poor, you can serve at a soup kitchen, you can sing at a nursing home, you can preach to a foreign nation… but if you do not have love, it is meaningless.
I was convicted because I realized that, in my ministry to the homeless, I was ministering to people that I really did not trust. There are unfortunate stereotypes of homeless people. Many are scammers, ungrateful, and entitled. The problem is, if I minister with these things in mind, I am not believing the best about the person, and I am not fully loving them. Whether they deserve it or not, it is my job to trust them. If they do end up taking advantage of me, it’s ok–I’m actually blessed to let them do so (see my last post, Let People Take Advantage of You)–and I also know God will protect me in the midst of it.
Sometimes we do not want to trust because doing so means letting our guard down. It means relinquishing a degree of control. If we find we are having trouble trusting, it may mean we are fighting for control. But if we trust in the One who is truly sovereign, we are able to let go and let God have his way in the situation.
Love does require trust. It is the paradox of trusting the untrustworthy.
“But you don’t understand what that person did to me… there’s no way I could ever trust them again.” I never want to diminish the hurt you may feel as a result of a broken relationship, but I do know that God’s love is strong enough to wipe away that hurt (no matter how great) and replace it with complete love and trust. The sin we committed hurt God more than anything, and if he could love us and entrust us with “all things” (Rom. 8:32), then we can do the same through his power working in us.