Love Believes All Things
Paul says in 1 Cor. 13:7 that love “believes all things.”
Is love gullible? Is it love to believe a lie?
Paul has just told us that love “rejoices with the truth.” Conversely, then, love does not rejoice in a lie. If a person could not tell the difference, then love would always have a problem. Paul was not telling us that love should simply believe everything that is said and rejoice, whether it is truth or not. We know from Paul’s own writings that discernment, which includes the ability to separate truth from falsehood, is a gift of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:10, KJV).
So what does Paul mean when he says that love “believes all things?”
Paul uses the word pisteuo, “believes.” It comes from pistis, “faith,” which is the noun form. To believe is to have faith. Paul says in Rom. 10:17,
17 So faith [pistis] comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
In the Hebrew language, “faith” (aman) is the root word from which “truth” (emeth) and “truly” (amen) are derived. In other words, there is no biblical faith without truth. If we believe a lie, it is not true faith, even if we are confident that the lie we believe is the truth. John says in 1 John 2:21,
21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
It is plain that faith is an act of love, because all that is of God is rooted in love. If faith (or belief) comes by hearing the word of Christ, then love believes all things that Christ says. In other words, if we have agape, we will believe all that Christ says and thereby rejoice with the truth. If we believe a lie, then our love is flawed in some way.
Lies hinder us from achieving perfect love. This shows the importance of truth in our spiritual growth into the full love of Christ. It is the will of God for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). The NASB says that this is merely God’s “desire,” as if God engages in wishful thinking. But the KJV is more accurate, saying, “Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Much can be said about this statement, but our point here is to show that it is the will of God for all men to come into the knowledge of the truth, so that we may believe all things—that is, all things that are true, all that Christ says. Those who think that they can worship God in Spirit, but not in truth, are deceived. Though they proclaim their love toward Jesus, their love is flawed, because they do not fully love the truth.
Many Christians today have despised truth, thinking that it is connected to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Truth is, in fact, the knowledge of God and His nature, which is learned by revelation and by the study of the word of God. This is not carnal knowledge or mere head knowledge. To know truth is to know the mind of God.
When we believe all things that He says, then we can say that perfect love (agape) dwells in us. To achieve this, we must be able to discern truth from lies. It is also very helpful to do specific word studies so that we are not too dependent upon the translators and their biases. But most of all, we must rely upon the Holy Spirit to show us the mind of God as well as the intent of vessel through which the word has been passed down to us.