Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Loving Enough to Provide a Shield

Leslie Basham: All right, here’s a riddle for you: What do your car windshield and love have in common?

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, February 9.

When you’re in the car, you probably don’t think too much about the windshield. Basically, it’s invisible, but it protects us from wind, rain, and dirt. Today, we’ll hear how love acts like a shield.

We’re in the middle of a series called, How’s Your Love Life? Let’s continue with Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was scheduled to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. But when the time came for the bell to be rung, the sexton repeatedly pulled the rope of the bell, but the bell made no sound. When Cromwell sent someone to investigate, they discovered that the soldier’s fiancé had climbed into the belfry before the scheduled execution and had wrapped herself around the clapper so that it could not strike the bell.

She managed to climb down, bruised and bleeding, to meet those awaiting the execution. When she explained what she had done—so the story goes—Cromwell’s heart was touched, and he said, “Your love shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight.”

We’re looking at the qualities of God’s kind of love, and we come now to four of those qualities that are closely related to each other that we’ll be look at, today. First Corinthians chapter 13, we’ve looked at a long string of qualities. We’ve seen that "love is patient, and love is kind. It’s not jealous; it does not brag, and it is not arrogant. It does not act rudely or unbecomingly. It does not seek its own; it’s not provoked. It does not take into account a wrong suffered. It does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but it rejoices with the truth" (verses 4-6, NASB paraphrased).

Now we see that "love bears all things, [it] believes all things, [it] hopes all things, [it] endures all things. Love never fails" (verse 7-8, NASB). So, Paul says, pursue love.

The woman who attached her body to the clapper of that bell was willing to bear all things for the sake of the one that she loved to stay his execution. What a picture of what it means to bear all things for love’s sake.

The word here to bear all things really means "to cover." It means "to support or shield." It’s used sometimes to describe a warrior’s use of his shield as an instrument of protection. He withstands the blows and the attacks of others by means of this shield.

The person who has God’s kind of love will bear all things. That means he or she will protect others from exposure. A loving person isn’t going to go broadcasting the failures and the sins of others.

So how are we doing on this love test? We’ve been taking the love test for the last several sessions. When it comes to bearing all things, do you find yourself offended if an act of kindness goes unappreciated?

I found myself wrestling with this in the last few weeks. A particular act of kindness that I had done initially for love’s sake, but when there was not thanks extended and expressed, I found myself not feeling so loving anymore, not acting so loving anymore, not bearing this offense, but wanting to bring up the offense, wanting the other person to know that I had felt offended rather than being willing to bear that offense.

By the way, one of the most convicting things to me in dealing with that offense is to then think about how many things God has done for me for which I’ve never said, “Thank You.” I don’t thank Him often enough for health, for food, for shelter, for warmth in cold weather and air conditioning in the hot weather. How many things has God poured out upon me, just in material and physical blessings, for which I’ve never thanked Him?

God has a kind of love that bears up under my offenses, and yet when I’m offended, I’m so prone not to bear those offenses.

What about when it comes to your husband’s failures and faults and flaws? No one knows them any better than you do. So when you have opportunity to expose, do you find yourself bearing up those offenses, covering, protecting him? Or do you find yourself bringing his offenses into the light, being quick to share with others how your husband or a pastor or a friend has done wrong in your eyes?

Oh ladies, it’s so important, so important that with our tongues we not put those God has put in authority over us in a negative light. If you’re going to share a failure or a flaw of somebody else, make sure it’s a situation where you are part of the problem or part of the solution and that the person you’re talking to is part of the problem or part of the solution, or don’t say it.

How I admire some wives who’ve lived in very, very difficult situations in their home with relation to a child or a parent or a mate but have not gotten into the habit of dredging up those offenses and not putting their husband or their family member in a negative light.

It’s so important that you and I not gossip or listen to gossip about others. You see, love never protects sin, but it’s eager to protect the sinner. Now, that’s contrary to what’s natural for us because we do have this kind of perverse pleasure in exposing someone else’s faults and failures. I wonder if that’s because we make ourselves look better.

I know I can think back to times when I’ve so sinned against the Lord and against another person. Their name will come up in a conversation, someone will say something positive about that person, but I know something about that person that they don’t know. Why do I have to say it? Why can’t I bear that offense? Maybe the offense isn’t against me, but there’s something I know. It’s all pride, which is really the opposite of the kind of love we’ve been talking about.

Scripture says hatred stirs up strife, but love covers a multitude of sins. We can measure our love for a person by how quick we are to cover his faults.

Now, to bear all things doesn’t mean that we bear lies or wickedness or false teaching or other things that are contrary to God’s laws. It’s not speaking here of covering for someone who is breaking the law. We’re not speaking here of a mate or a parent being involved in sexual abuse or physical abuse or drug abuse.

God has made provision for that person to be helped by giving us civil authorities and church authorities, and the most loving thing to do in that situation, in a spirit of meekness is to involve the proper or appropriate authorities, not taking matters into our own hands. We’re not to cover up for the breaking of the law on the part of another person, but many times the things that we bring into the light, the negative things about other people are not such kinds of grievances but just things that have annoyed us personally. That’s when love will bear up.

When a close friend, someone we really love, or one of our children does something wrong, we tend to put the best possible face on what they’ve done.

“He just didn’t understand what he was doing.”

“She didn’t really mean what she said.”

But when someone we don’t like does something that we don’t like, we can have quite a different reaction.

“That’s so typical of that person. What else would you expect from that person?”

When we love someone, when we truly love them, we put things in the best possible light. We make allowances wherever possible. Love doesn’t justify sin; it doesn’t compromise with things that aren’t true. Love is willing to warn and, as a mother, there are certainly times when you have to do this with your children. It’s willing to correct. In fact, it must correct. It’s willing to exhort and rebuke and discipline. But love does not expose or broadcast failures and wrongs. It covers, and it protects.

In Genesis chapter 9, we read an account about the three sons of Noah. Scripture says that

Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk, and he lay uncovered inside his tent. [One son], Ham . . . saw his father’s nakedness (verses 20-21, NIV).

Not only did he see what his father had done, the drunkenness and the nakedness, but then he told his two brothers outside. He, in a sense, exposed his father’s failure, and the suggestion here is that he did it in a way that was scorning or mocking of his father, but the other two sons,

Shem and Japheth, took a garment and laid it across their shoulders. Then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness (verse 23).

So we see in these other two sons, the covering of a multitude of sins.

As we think about that fiancé who clung to the clapper of that bell and was willing to take upon herself the brunt of that experience as the clapper pushed up against the bell, she was willing to be bloodied and wounded in order to bear up so that her fiancé, the one she loved, would not have to be executed.

What a picture, in some very small sense, of what Jesus did for us at Calvary as He clung to that cross, not deserving to go there Himself but was willing to be bloodied and wounded to pay the ultimate price of death so that you and I would not have to experience the execution of God’s wrath.

In the cross God bore all things. He threw the great covering of His love over our sin, forever covering it, for those who trust in His Son. By nature, love is redemptive. It wants to buy back, to restore, not to condemn. It wants to save and not to judge. So love feels the pain of those that it loves. It helps to carry the burden of the hurt and is even willing, if necessary, to take the consequences of the sin of those that it loves.

  • Do you have the kind of love that covers a multitude of offenses? Or do you find yourself being easily offended?
  • Do you seek to cover and protect those around you from harm, from attack? Or do you expose and broadcast their failures to others?

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss reminding us of the protection Christ provided us on the cross. He provides the perfect example of how to love others sacrificially.

We’re about to hear the second half of today’s program, but let me tell you about a way to get today’s message into your heart and your actions: Get a copy of the booklet Nancy wrote called How’s Your Love Life? It will help you remember and apply the teaching of love you’ve been hearing.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send the booklet along with the series on CD. Just call with your donation at 1-800-569-5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com. Remember to ask for the booklet and CDs.

A group of women have been listening to Nancy’s teaching with us, and they’ve been learning a lot about love during this series, and we’re about to learn from their examples. We’ll start with a friend of Revive Our Hearts, Holly Elliff.

Holly Elliff: I took Nancy’s 30-day challenge—I don’t think we’re even at the end of that yet—of reading 1 Corinthians 13 every day and trying to memorize those characteristics. What I have found in my home is that it absolutely eliminates every excuse I have for any type of behavior that doesn’t look like Christ. Constantly, what has happened to me in the last two weeks especially, is that every time I respond to my children in a way that is irritable or short or unkind, instantly those words pop in my head like they’re on a neon sign in front of me.

Even just last night, as I was reading through that again, the words there at the end of that passage where it says, “Love never fails. Love always bears all things.” I mean, it just eliminates every single possibility I have of escaping what Christ has put into my life and seeing it from His perspective.

So that’s what Nancy has done to me through God’s Word in the last few weeks.

Nancy: I think you could talk to the Holy Spirit about that. Anyone else in relation to love? What has the Holy Spirit been doing in your heart in relation to love? Or how have you seen the opposite of that, maybe, as you’ve been holding your life up to that standard of love?

Woman 1: One of the ways that I am easily irritated is with phone solicitors. I’m just so rude to them. It’s awful. I’m just opposite of how I usually am, but they just make me so angry. They always call at the worst times. But after your series on 1 Corinthians 13, one called, and my first instinct was to be rude or hang up or something. But I said, “No, love is not irritable.”

So I was very kind, very patient to this woman. She wanted to know if we wanted estimates for new windows and siding, that type of thing, and I told her that I’d talk to my husband and for her to call back. I was just really very friendly. Wouldn’t you know it, one of the few times my husband was interested in something they were calling about was this time, and he does want them to come back. I was just so glad that I’d been kind to that woman because I knew she would be calling back. As it turned out, I didn’t talk to her, I talked to somebody else when they called back, but it was a good application of “love is not irritable, or is not easily provoked.”

Nancy: Love is practical.

What’s been your greatest struggle in applying that passage?

Woman 2: The Lord this year has just really been teaching me to love people unconditionally and to love them for who they are and not be judgmental. So even before your exhortation to read through it, I felt the Lord was asking me to memorize the chapter on love. If my goal for the year was to love people unconditionally, what better chapter to memorize than 1 Corinthians 13?

God does this when we memorize Scripture: You can know something forwards and backwards, inside out and upside down, but you apply it to your life, or you see it in a way that you hadn’t seen it before because it’s written on your heart, and “love never fails” jumped out of the page. I was like, “Lord, how does that apply?”

I knew how it applied in my life. As my dad professes to be a believer, he professes to know Christ, but there’s no fruit in his life. It’s really painful for me to see the way he treats my mom. They’re married; they still live in the same house, but they’re not even friends. It hurts me. A lot of times it’s hard for me to love my dad because I think, “You love me, and you’re a super-duper dad, but you’re a terrible husband.”

So the “love never fails” was, I felt like God was saying, “If I choose never to reconcile this relationship between your parents, will you still love your dad? Will you still choose to love him despite his response?”

I said, “Yes, Lord. Love never fails. I’m going to love him despite his response to love my mom.”

Nancy: That kind of love you don’t have—I don’t have—naturally. But if we have Christ living in us, we have the source of all true love. We have His supernatural love, and because of the love of Christ that’s been shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit, there isn’t anyone I can’t love. That’s why the Scripture says that “older women are to teach younger women to love their husbands.” It means you can love your husband. You can’t, but Christ in you can love your husband.

Some of you have a child for whom no textbook was ever written, and there’s just that child who tries and exasperates and pushes all the boundaries, and you say, “I just can’t love that child.” The truth is, you can’t, but God does, and He wants to love that child through you. He wants to love that father through you. “Love never fails.”

So when we say, in a marriage, “I just don’t love my mate anymore,” what we’re really acknowledging is that we’re failing to allow God to love that person through us because “love never fails.”

“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it,” the Song of Solomon tells us (8:7, KJV).

A week or so ago I challenged a woman who’s in a difficult marriage to a 30-day commitment. I said, “I want to ask you to do two things for 30 days. One is negative, the other is positive. First of all, for the next 30 days, you’ve got to commit yourself not to say one negative thing about your husband, not to him, not to anyone else about him, not to your mother, not to your children, not to your friends, not one negative thing about your husband.” You should have seen her eyes.

She had gotten into a bad habit, which so many of us have in our homes, of picking on the things about her husband that bothered her. I’m not saying that they weren’t . . . they were probably things that would have bothered me, probably would have bothered you. I’m not saying they’re not problems, but she’d been picking on those things, and she’d come to the place where she could only see her husband through those glasses of failure. He couldn’t do anything to please her. I knew enough about the situation to know that he had issues; she had issues. But there were qualities in both of them that were worth admiring. She’d lost sight of those, and maybe he had, too. I can’t speak for him.

So I said, “Thirty days, you can’t say anything negative about your husband.”

She swallowed hard.  She had come to the place where she really wanted God to change her. If she hadn’t come to that place, I don’t think she could have received the suggestion, but I think she’d come to the place where she was willing to lay down her own program for changing her husband. She was desperate.

Then I said, “Here’s the other part of the 30-day challenge: Every day for the next 30 days, you need to say something that you appreciate about your husband. Say it to him, and say it to someone else about him.”

Well, that was even more of a challenge in some ways because it had been a while since she’d been thinking that way.

I said, “Every day think of something you appreciate about him. If you can’t think of 30 things, think of one thing and repeat it every day for 30 days. And verbalize it to him. Tell him what you appreciate, and tell someone else what you appreciate about him.”

I said to her what I’m saying to you: “I can’t make you any promises about what will happen to him within the next 30 days.” But I could promise her, and I can promise you that you will be different in 30 days. Why? Because you’ll be seeing that man through eyes of love, the kind of love that never fails.

According to God’s Word, you can learn to love, and there is that supernatural source of love that is within you if you’re a child of God. That means there’s hope. Hope as big and as great as the love of God.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back.

She’s been holding up a biblical standard of love, one that stays committed no matter what. That standard is based on 1 Corinthians 13, and earlier in the program we heard from women who have taken up a challenge to read this chapter and memorize part of it.

This is part of a bigger campaign launch for 2010, and we’re inviting you to memorize with other Revive Our Hearts listeners. Each month we’re focusing on a new passage of Scripture, so you can jump in at any time. To memorize with us, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Sign up for the Revive Our Hearts Daily Connection. This e-newsletter will encourage you to keep up with your memorizing.

Again, get more details at ReviveOurHearts.com, and while you’re there, take advantage of a special offer we’re making during our current series, How’s Your Love Life? Get the entire teaching series on CD when you make a donation of any amount. You’ll also receive a booklet Nancy wrote called How’s Your Love Life? The booklet and CDs will help you get deeper into this crucial topic. You’ll remember what you heard on the program and put more love into your daily life.

Donate any amount at Revive Our Hearts, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Think about someone you know who is difficult to trust. How should love function in your relationship with them? Tomorrow we’ll hear the connection between love and trust.

Now, again, here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Thank you, Lord, for Your incredible love. You loved us when we were Your enemies. You loved us when we were running from You. You loved us when all we had done was to be spiteful towards You, and You still loved us. You loved us so much that You gave, You gave the best that You had. You loved us knowing that there was no reason to expect we would love You in return, but Your love captured our hearts.

It transformed us. It saved us. It lifted us out of the pit of sin and self that we were in. It gave us hope and life, and now You say that Your love has been shed abroad in our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, and You’ve put us in the world, in our churches, in our homes, in our work places to love, to be lovers, to love with Your love.

So Lord, for everyone in this room who has some name or face come to mind as we’re talking about loving hard-to-love people, I just pray for a filling of Your Holy Spirit, for a brokenness, for humility, for a crying out for grace, and for a baptism of love—not the feelings first, but the choice. So we pray for grace for love and for Your healing where it’s needed. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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