When Paul says that love “bears all things” and “believes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7), it seems that the Apostle primarily has the present in view. That is, love bears and believes all things in the moment. When he says in today’s passage that love “hopes all things, endures all things” (v. 7), Paul has more of a future orientation. Love not only bears things in the present, but it continues to endure long into the future.
This should not surprise us, for the Christian faith is strongly forward-looking. First Peter 1:5, for instance, speaks of “a salvation readied to be revealed in the last time.” Peter here refers to the consummation of our redemption in the new heavens and earth. As believers, we understand that while Jesus has accomplished redemption, its fullness will not be present until He returns. That affects how we live in the present, giving us encouragement to stand firm under persecution, knowing that whatever suffering we experience now will be worth it in the end when we rule over creation alongside Jesus (2 Tim. 2:12). Because Jesus is not finished applying redemption to His people yet, we are also enabled to continue seeking the Lord’s face, asking Him to show mercy on those who have not yet converted.
With respect to love, this means that we never stop hoping for the conversion of those who have not yet died. We do not cease praying for the Lord to bring them to faith or to return a formerly professing but backslidden Christian to the church. Love makes us into believers who never stop praying for others. Monica, the mother of Augustine of Hippo, was one of these believers. She prayed for her son for decades as he lived a life of debauchery, never ceasing to hope that God would call Augustine to saving faith.
A love that endures all things, furthermore, is a love that perseveres in seeking the good of an enemy. It does not mean putting up with grievous sin or even failing to bring people to justice when it is deserved, but it does mean continuing to long for their transformation into citizens of heaven even when they have caused us to suffer greatly. As John Calvin comments, Paul is “referring to the things that ought to be endured, and in such a manner as is befitting. For we are not to bear with vices, so as to give our sanction to them by flattery, or, by winking at them, encourage them through our supineness. Farther, this endurance does not exclude corrections and just punishments.”