Normally, we develop close friends with those we share things in common with. Unfortunately, even if we share a number of things in common, there usually are other areas where we can readily find disagreements. The very possibility of such disagreements can lead us to avoid making friends with otherwise decent people simply because we know they hold views that differ from ours. We may be friendly, but we won’t pursue a close friendship with such people.
But perhaps we should reconsider.
We all know the chapter on love in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13). It talks about being long-suffering and bearing all things. While such love is certainly good, long-suffering doesn’t sound exactly like the peaceful, restful or restoring type of relationship we seek with close friends. Being loving like this may need to be our behavior towards those who are difficult. But surely we don’t need to be taught how to love our dearest friends.
Or do we?
Consider verse seven, where it says that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”.
The Greek word for “bear” in that verse means to “cover”, that is, to provide a cover of protection from something which threatens (and to endure in so doing). Interestingly, one type of cover that the Greek word can refer to is to “cover with silence”, as in to “hide or conceal the errors and faults of others”.
In other words, we do not always need to “correct the heresies” or point out the faults of others. One essence of love is to protect the precious from the things that threaten it. And deep friendship is precious.
But also consider what the Greek word for “believe” means in this verse. It means to think something is true. To be persuaded of it and to place your confidence in it. Love does not dwell on why something may fail. It does not despair of what may go wrong. Love holds out confidence. Even more, this word can mean to entrust something to someone. Confident belief enables entrusting what is precious. Even deep friendship.
The Greek word for “hope” isn’t the English word that means we hope things will go well. The Greek word means we have full trust in something or someone. We have confidence because our hope (our trust) becomes the foundation we build on, a foundation we firmly rely on. Love like this doesn’t presume disappointment. It searches for what can be trusted in and builds on what it discovers.
The Greek word for “endure” doesn’t just mean to endure ill treatments. Its primary meaning is to “remain”. That is, to not flee or run away, but to instead tarry with someone. Love sticks fast. It holds on. It stays.
Love remains because there is something precious to remain for. Love trusts because there is something precious to put our hope in. Love is persuaded to believe because there is something precious that needs to be entrusted. Love protects because there is something very precious that needs covering from our faults that would otherwise ruin it.
Love does not endure because it must. Love endures because of the joy it brings.
Think about it.