How ashamed I am of my own love for God and for people. Yet on this earth, how I treasure the love others have shown to me! Above all things, I treasure and long to know the love of God in Christ (Ephesians 3:19).
The word translated ‘thinketh’ in 1 Corinthians 13:5, is elsewhere translated ‘counted’ (Romans 4:3), ‘imputed’, (Romans 4:8,24); and ‘reckon’, (Romans 6:11). From these we know how God loves and how we are to love.
Love does not impute evil; it remembers no wrong. For the object of its love, love does not think of the wrong done to it, but acts in kindness in all things and at all times. Love ever seeks the good of its object. Love covers all sin. “Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. (Psalms 85:2)”
When we think of love as it is described in 1 Corinthians 13, and that text gives the description of true love, we must ultimately see that 1 Corinthians 13 describes Christ’s love for His own. At best, we are His disciples in our love because, as He loved us and gave Himself for us, and because He has given us His own Spirit, then we, as His followers, seek to love as He did. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. (Proverbs 10:12).”
Has someone ever genuinely overlooked your weaknesses? You recognized that as love, did you not? Have you ever been able to unburden your heart to someone in complete trust, knowing that they would never use it or hold it against you? You felt such a bond to that person, did you not? Have you ever confessed your faults, which you have done against someone else, and have them treat you as though you had done them no wrong, and they never mentioned it again, simply because they loved you and wanted only the best for you? Have you ever had a friend to whom you could go at any time who would listen to you as if you were their only concern? How close we feel to those who have ever expressed such love to us! Truly, in my experience, among men, this love is rare indeed. Yet, we ought so to love one another.
When we sin against God, He looks to Christ and forgives us for the sake of His Son, and for His sake alone. God sees the love that Christ had for His own, sees that He gave Himself for them, sees that He endured the full punishment their sins deserved, and then, in faithfulness to both His justice and grace, He forgives our sin (1 John 1:9) because in the love of Christ to His Father and for His people, God received full satisfaction to his law both for the punishment their sins deserved and for the obedience His law required.
Even so, when a brother or sister in Christ wrongs us, we are to act in the same way: consider that God has received all from Christ for them. Is this not how Paul instructed Philemon to act towards Onesimus? Doesn’t vengeance belong to the Lord? Hasn’t the Lord received full compensation to His vengeance in the death of His Son? Are we then going to keep a separate set of books and our own account that can only be cleared when we have received some trifle of contrition? Consider what God has done for you! Did He forgive you after He saw your repentance, your sorrow, your resolve to make up for the wrong you have done? Or did He forgive you freely and frankly and fully for Christ’s sake when you had nothing to pay (Luke 7:42)? Did He not do it for Christ’s sake alone? Of course, it was for Christ’s sake alone. When we know our sin and come to Him confessing what we are and what we’ve done, at that time we experience forgiveness. Yet, every sin in our record was blotted out beforehand by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. (Isaiah 43:25)” (see also, Hebrews 10:17; Psalm 103:3). Following Christ, we are therefore to cover, to hide and not to count the sin of our brethren in Christ against them, and by so doing, we will find expression of our faith in Christ before God and expression of the love of God to us as the fruit of His Spirit working in us to so love one another. “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)”. “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. (Colossians 3:14)”