Love Bears All Things
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things… 1 Corinthians 13:4-7a
A vow recited in nearly every wedding ceremony I attend includes these words: “…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” It is a promise we make as a married couple to bear one another’s burdens – together. The 12th trait of love, according to Paul, is that love bears all things. Of course, Christian love goes beyond the love and commitment of a married couple, but the expectation is the same. Serious followers of Christ will not stand by and allow others to suffer alone. When we are in a loving relationship with another – and Jesus emphasizes that love is the expectation for all – we assume responsibility for that relationship. A part of that responsibility is to provide assistance, support, and companionship as needed.
Assisting another with a burden should not be a hardship – it should be a joy! I think of the “barn-raising” events of the past, where a family would need a barn and neighbors and friends would gather for a weekend and build it together. They would work side-by-side, eat, talk, rest, and bask in the fellowship. Today, we hire a contractor. In our haste not to impose on others, we starve our relationships by not allowing space for the precious gift of giving and receiving one another. What greater gift can we give another than a portion of our being? Our material wealth and our overflowing schedules have led us to a state of poverty in our social relationships.
We lack an integrated, interdependent world-view, where we recognize that your burdens are my burdens, too. Bearing one another’s burdens is what we do in community, and it is what we do when we live a life of love. Robert Greenleaf, an early proponent of servant leadership, said we must bear “unlimited liability” for others. With the exception of abusive relationships, we are encouraged to bear all things, not just some things.
Let us make 2016 the year of love, as love was meant to be.