Question: "What does it mean that love always hopes (1 Corinthians 13:7)?"
Answer: In the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, we find four things that love “always” does. Love is not just an idea; it is action. The third action listed is that love “always hopes” (NIV) or “hopes all things” (ESV). It’s nice to know that love is hopeful, but what exactly does this mean?
The Greek word translated “hope” is from elpidzo, meaning “to hope or wait for salvation with joy and full confidence.” Used 32 times in the New Testament, this word expresses more than a wish or desire, but a confident belief in the unseen. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith, hope, and love are often intimately connected in Scripture (see 1 Corinthians 13:13).
In Colossians 1:4-5 we find the same combination of faith, hope, and love: “We heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (emphasis added).
Just as God is called “love” (1 John 4:8), Jesus is called our “hope” (1 Timothy 1:1). Hope not only concerns our belief in Christ but describes who He is to us. The hope within us is Christ Himself. If He lives within us, His hope will be seen in how we treat others. Living with such an attitude reflects the way of Christ, leads to holy living, and brings glory to the heavenly Father (Matthew 5:17).
Part of showing love is hoping, and part of hoping is seeing the potential of others. As Goethe said, “If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” In love, we can always be hopeful and show confidence in others. This does not rule out confrontation or the redress of wrongs, but the impact of a positive attitude in the life of another person is incalculable.
How many times in the Old Testament did Israel fail God? Yet their failure was never final. Love never says die. Peter failed Jesus, yet the Lord restored him. The Corinthians failed Paul in some ways, yet the apostle, in love, patiently corrected them and called them “sanctified” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Love always points to a brighter day ahead. Love is the lifeline that the hurting can hold on to.
If you have ever had a person believe in you and share a hopeful attitude for your future, then you have experienced some of what 1 Corinthians 13:7 teaches. As long as there is love, there will be hope.