Love Thinketh No Evil
Among the many characteristics of Christian love listed in 1 Corinthians 13, one of the most neglected is this: “Love thinketh no evil.” If you and I would practice this, what a difference it would make in our relationship with the Lord and with one another. “Love thinketh no evil.”
Even people who do not believe the Bible admit that 1 Corinthians 13 is the greatest statement on love found in any literature anywhere. Inspired by the Spirit, Paul describes true Christian love in terms that excite us and convict us. Apart from God’s love in our hearts, we could never hope to achieve what is described in this magnificent chapter.
Among the characteristics of love is this: “Love thinketh no evil.” This is a very simple statement, but it carries in it some profound implications. Suppose that you and I were to practice this from now on, that we would never think evil of others; what differences would it make in our lives?
Well, for one thing, it would help us refuse the lies and gossip that we hear about others. Some people seem to thrive on conversational garbage. They have an appetite for scandal, and they never investigate to see if the stories are true. My friend, if you and I truly love people, we will believe the best until the facts have proved the worst. And even then, we will continue to love and pray until the worst is gone and the best is back again.
Recently I received a phone call with sad news about a serious failure that I simply could not believe. I told my friend that it could not be true. Well, I quietly investigated—and it was true. Did I cease to love my fellow Christian because he had failed? No—I could not do that. Christian love continues to pray for the best and hope for the best. I did pray, along with many other people, and God brought the victory. You see, love does not think evil about others, and love does not want to see evil overcome others.
There is entirely too much slander and gossip among the people of God. Love covers a multitude of sins. What good is achieved when you hang dirty wash out in public? If someone comes to you with a report about another Christian, if you love the Christian you will believe the best about him. Love thinketh no evil. Be sure that the story is based on facts, not lies or malicious gossip. The Bible says, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”
But even if the report is true, love still thinks no evil. Loves says, “I will pray and ask God to give him victory. I will stand by his side to encourage him and help him.” After the Corinthian church had disciplined the man who was living in sin, Paul wrote them, “Wherefore I beseech you that you would confirm your love toward him.” Love does not put people on probation and make them earn Christian acceptance. Love covers a multitude of sins, and love thinketh no evil.
If you and I practice 1 Corinthians 13:5, it will not only help us refuse to believe lies about others, but it will also help us put the best interpretation on what others say and do. Christian love does not look for hidden, selfish motives in the things people say and do. Sad to say, there are some people who suspect everything. If you say a simple “Good morning” to them, they get suspicious and ask, “What did he mean by that?” Where there is love, there is openness and honesty and a willingness to put the very best interpretation on actions and words.
There is a story in the life of David that illustrates this truth. It is found in 2 Samuel 10. One of David’s royal neighbors died, the king of the Ammonites, and David sent an official delegation to the funeral to pay his respects. He wanted to show kindness to the king’s son because the deceased king had shown kindness to David. Well, the new king’s advisers were suspicious men—and they told their king that these official mourners were really spies from Israel, and that David was planning to take over the land. The new king believed this lie and humiliated David’s messengers by shaving off half of their bears and cutting off part of their garments.
What was the result of this stupid incident? There was a terrible war and many men were killed. Where did it all start? A group of men did not have love for David and therefore put the worst interpretation on what he did. Have you ever seen this happen in a family or a church? I have. How easy it is to judge the motives of others—and be wrong. Christian love always puts the highest and best interpretation on what others say and do. “Love thinketh no evil.”
But suppose our interpretation is wrong? The Lord will take care of it. When Judas went out to sell Christ, the other disciples thought he was going to help the poor. There are times when our evaluation may be wrong, but if we are walking in faith and in love, the Lord will take care of it. This does not mean that Christian love is blind and naïve. God gives His wisdom to those who ask Him for it. But it does mean that we always seek to act in love, even if our interpretation is wrong.
You have no idea how your life will be spared unnecessary burdens and troubles if you walk in love and stop trying to second guess everybody and look for hidden meanings. “Love thinketh no evil.”
There is third practical result of walking in love: it helps us in solving life’s problems. Instead of thinking evil about the other person and trying to hurt him, we lovingly assume the best and try to help him.
I had the occasion some months ago to chat with a friend about something he had said that had created a problem. I always try to do this privately and lovingly, after much prayer. Well, he graciously accepted the rebuke and immediately took steps to make matters right. The result was a time of blessing and victory in many hearts. But suppose I had approached him like a policeman chasing a criminal? Suppose I had assumed that he did not like me, that he was out to ruin my ministry? Well, that would have changed my attitude and my approach considerably—and I would have made matters worse.
“Love thinketh no evil.” My friend, when you have a personal problem to solve, in your home or in the church, then deal with it in love. Assume the best and trust God to do the best. You cannot force the other person to love you, but at least he cannot stop you from loving him. If there is an atmosphere of love, then the Spirit of God can go to work.
Let’s face the fact that, by nature, you and I do not love. We were born with a selfish streak in us and even our salvation has not removed it. By nature we are protective and suspicious. We get defensive when people disagree with us. How easy it is to lie awake at night and think of all the evil things people have said and done—and imagine them to be worse than they are. How, then, can we cultivate this love?
Love cannot be manufactured. Artificial love is flattery and cheap sentiment and nobody wants that. True love is the fruit of the Spirit. God gives us a growing love as we yield to the Spirit and permit Him to work in our lives. Love grows as we keep our lives clean and refuse to think evil of others. As we pray and worship God, as we serve others, we experience a growing love in the Lord.
You can tell when this kind of love starts to take over in your life. When you hear a piece of gossip, your immediate response in love is, “That cannot be true.” When someone hurts you, your response is, “He didn’t mean to do that.” If someone disappoints you, you say, “There must be some good reason why he did that.”
“Love thinketh no evil.” Love always gets the truth and wants the best for others. Love cannot thrive on lies, gossip, and suspicion. Love thrives on truth, honesty, and sincerity. Let this simple statement be your guide and protection: “Love thinketh no evil.”