A Love That Covers
I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “It is loving and giving that make life worth living.” This is so true. I have observed that the happiest people are those who truly place a high priority on loving others. When we allow God’s love to flow through us, He gives us the strength to help and encourage others.
This is what the Apostle Paul was writing about in 1 Corinthians 13. The Greek word for love in this chapter is Agape. Agape love is “Unconditional love” that always looks out for the best interest of the other person. It’s God’s kind of love. It is an unselfish love that places the needs of the other person above their own. It continues to love the other person, even when they are acting unlovable.
Agape love is a love that is willing to sacrifice. It is the type of love that can endure hard times and stress. It is a forgiving love. Jesus said that we are to forgive each other, not just 2 or 3 times but 70 times 7. He did not come to be served (which was his right as the King of Kings) but to serve others and give His life as a ransom for many. This, of course, is the ultimate example of sacrificial love.
In 1 Corinthians 13:7, the Apostle Paul states that“Love bears all things,believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. The NIV translates “Love bears all things” to say “Love always protects.” The Greek word for love used in this passage is “steago.” It is a powerful word that means “to cover” or “conceal.” A Bible scholar who wrote the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament said that the word “conveys the idea of ‘covering with a cloak of love.’”
All of us have experienced this type of “covering love” that helped us, that encouraged us, that protected us. As children, we experience this kind of love from our parents.
Later, you may have experienced this as a teenager, when your best friend stood up for you & wouldn’t let someone gossip about you.
Perhaps years later, your spouse placed a warm blanket over you when you were taking a nap on the couch. Whenever you’ve been helped & encouraged you’ve been covered with a cloak of love.
God did this way back in the Garden of Eden. God covered Adam & Eve with a cloak of love. Before Adam & Eve sinned they needed no clothing. After they ate the forbidden fruit, they felt naked and ashamed. They hid in the bushes. They quickly made clothes out of fig leaves to cover themselves. But their handmade fig leaf coverings couldn’t really take away their feelings of shame. They had sinned and for the first time they felt separated from God.
God is His great love took the initiative. “The LORD God fashioned garments from animal skins for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21) God in his compassion didn’t just toss the skins at their feet. He lovingly clothed them. Innocent blood was shed to cover Adam and Eve’s guilt. This is a foreshadowing of what Christ would do for us. Christ shed His innocent blood to cover all of our sins. “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Throughout February, I encourage you to spend time reflecting on the sacrificial love God revealed to us through His Son Jesus. May you sense God’s love and may you find ways to extend it to others.