Saturday, September 11, 2010

Charity Beareth All Things: "Bearing" as "Possessing"

In my introductory post for this month's resolution to "bear more things", I focused on the idea that "to bear all things" must be different than "to endure all things" - since bearing and enduring are listed as separate aspects of charity in 1 Corinthians 13:7. Therefore, I looked up the verb "to bear" and listed the possibilities that might reflect what Paul meant in his statement that charity beareth all things. I am going to look at a number of those possibilities this month in these Saturday posts, and I want to start with the one that was a part of more than one definition that stood out to me.

The actual definitions that each include a similar element - that together seem to present a common theme - are:

to be fit for or worthy of: It doesn't bear repeating. - to have and be entitled to: to bear title. - to exhibit; show; to possess, as a quality or characteristic; have in or on: to bear a resemblance; to bear traces; to bear an inscription.

Each of these definitions has an element of possession that, taken together, is striking to me. Interpreting "charity" through the prism of these definitions gives the following re-translations:

Charity is fit for or worthy of all things.

Charity has or is entitled to all things.

Charity exhibits or shows all things.

Charity possesses all things as qualities or characteristics.

These re-translations each are fascinating in their own right, but, in order to analyze this a little further, I want to go back to what I have discussed already this year in each month's resolution post and see precisely what charity is worthy of, entitled to, exhibits and possesses as qualities and characteristics - according to Paul in this chapter.

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, charity
is worthy of, entitled to, exhibits and possesses:

long-suffering - kindness - lack of envy - lack of externally and internally separating pride - propriety - selflessness - forbearance in provocation - purity of thought - repulsion toward iniquity - rejoicing for truth

Thus, when Paul says that charity beareth all things, he might be saying nothing more than that charity is the perfect (whole, complete, fully developed) manifestation of a Christlike character - that a fully and truly charitable person thinks, sees and acts like God - that he "possesses" Godhood.

I really like this perspective, particularly since I believe it fits beautifully into the verses that follow 4-7 in Chapter 13 - that this interpretation leads naturally into verses 8-12 especially, which end with the statement that "
then shall I know even as also I am known".

What do you think of this possibility - that "bearing all things" might mean possessing all good qualities and characteristics and knowing even as God knows?

1 comment:

Thomas Parkin said...

This perspective totally liberates and re-invigorates the phrase "God is love." And causes me to re-feel,- I haven't yet started to re-think,- what is meant the 'the love of God.' Awesome.