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STUDY LOVE
Commentators C-I
Alan Carr: Thinketh No Evil - (Ill. Literally, this phrase means "takes no worthless inventory".) Two thoughts are in mind here. First, genuine love does not attribute evil motives to people. That is, every action is not seen in its most negative light. It thinks the best of others. Second, genuine love does not keep a record of evils done to it. In other words, it does not dwell what others may have done.

(Ill. Often what we think happened did not even take place! Most of our hurts are perceived hurts. We just think it happened that way. That is why we must learn to treat others like the Lord treats us. We must treat them with grace and forgiveness.)

(Ill. Real love does not: 1.) Remember injury 2.) Believe all it hears about another 3.) Look for fault in others! If this attitude were practiced in the church, it would solve about 90% of any church's troubles.)

Adam Clarke:  Thinketh no evil] oulogizetai to kakon? "Believes no evil where no evil seems." Never supposes that a good action may have a bad motive; gives every man credit for his profession of religion, uprightness, godly zeal, &c., while nothing is seen in his conduct or in his spirit inconsistent with this profession. His heart is so governed and influenced by the love of God, that he cannot think of evil but where it appears. The original implies that he does not invent or devise any evil; or, does not reason on any particular act or word so as to infer evil from it; for this would destroy his love to his brother; it would be ruinous to charity and benevolence.

Stephen J. Cole:  Selfless love does not take into account a wrong suffered.

This is an accounting word, used of numerical calculation. It is used of God not imputing our guilt to us, but instead imputing the righteousness of Christ to our account (Rom. 4:6-8). Love doesn't keep a tally of wrongs and bear a grudge until every one is paid for. It doesn't try to gain the upper hand by reminding the other person of past wrongs. Love forgives.

One married man said to his friend, "You know, every time my wife and I get into a conflict, she gets historical." His friend said, "Historical? Don't you mean hysterical?" "No, I mean historical. She rehearses everything I've ever done wrong in the whole history of our marriage." That's keeping score! That's not love.

F.C. Cook:  Thinketh no evil: render, Takes no account of an ill turn, i.e. does not mentally register or make a memorandum of an evil done to itself, but allows it to glance off unrecorded. This is the cardinal virtue of forgiveness of injuries.

Joseph Cross:  The character of Aunt Henderson in "Kitty Trevylyan" is a very suggestive and instructive one. Her conversation consisted chiefly in compassionate animadversions upon the infirmities of her neighbours. In this, of course, she was perfectly conscientious, thinking it a matter of much importance that we should observe the follies and errors of others, in order to learn wisdom and prudence from them. Now Aunt Henderson is scarcely an imaginative personage. The world is full of just such people who seem to regard the rest of mankind as a set of defective specimens expressly designed to teach them moral perfection, just as children at school have ungrammatical sentences placed before them to teach them grammar. But I cannot help thinking, with Kitty, that the children may learn more from the correct sentences than from the incorrect, and that it is far more pleasant to have the beautiful right thing before one than the failure; nor can I believe, any more than she, that others are sent into the world to be a sort of example of error and imperfection, even to make Aunt Henderson and other conscientious people of the same kind quite perfect by the contrast. Aunt Henderson and her followers seem to be the very opposite of St. Paul's charity in this chapter; for they enjoy a sort of selfish gratification in the mistakes and misdoings of their neighbours, and dwell upon them with a malicious self-complacency of which they are scarcely conscious; while it is among the most conspicuous qualities of charity, and by no means the least beautiful of the portraiture, that she "taketh not account of evil" (R.V.).

Joseph Cross:  Who is not acquainted with people who are expressing unfavourable opinions of others and, without any apparent concern about the consequences, look upon everybody with suspicion? and a very small circumstance is to them a sufficient indication of insincerity or wickedness. The soundness of your faith they question because you happen to differ with them in some unimportant matter of opinion. Your worship may be as hearty and as spiritual as their own; yet, because you do not conform perfectly to their ritual, you are denounced as a Romaniser or a schismatic. They judge all by their own standard, measure all by their own iron bedstead, and make no account of the modifying influences of education and society. Even the fatherly chastisements of Divine Providence they misinterpret; and, like Job's miserable comforters, pronounce the metal spurious because it has been submitted to the furnace. If the motive of an act is not perfectly obvious, they are apt to give it a bad construction, though a good one were quite as easy. A general remark is made in company, and some one present thinks it applicable to himself, and forthwith angrily appropriates it, though the speaker had no more thought of him than of Julius Caesar. Absorbed in meditation or conversation, you unconsciously pass an acquaintance in the street without speaking to him, and the casual oversight is set down against you as an intentional incivility. I recollect once to have given lasting offence by failing to recognise on the instant an old friend whom I had not met for many years, though I was never in my life more innocent of unfriendly intention. On another occasion I incurred the displeasure of a lady by my inability to identify her behind a veil, which rendered her face as invisible as the moon in a total eclipse, and the crime I believe was never forgiven. Censorious people commonly see motes in others' eyes through beams in their own, and none are more to be suspected than those who are always suspecting their neighbours. Their knowledge of human nature is obtained at home, and their fears of you are only the reflected images of their own, evil hearts. They resemble the surly mastiff, that sidles growling toward the mirror, mistaking his own likeness for a foe. Full of evil surmisings, they cannot afford to suspend their judgment and wait for explanation or evidence; blot, impelled by the bad spirit within them, they rush blindly to the bench and thunder forth their anathema against the supposed delinquent. How eagerly they take up an evil report, and how industriously they circulate it! Hearing a vague rumour, than which nothing is more uncertain in such a world as this, they believe without a particle of evidence, and never take the trouble to inquire into the grounds of the suspicion; but roll the delicious slander as a sweet morsel under their tongues, and feed on the imaginary imperfection of their neighbours with the zest of a vulture upon the slain.

Henry Drummond:  Hence it is not enough to deal with the Temper. We must go to the source, and change the inmost nature, and the angry humors will die away of themselves. Souls are made sweet not by taking the acid fluids out, but by putting something in—a great Love, a new Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Christ, the Spirit of Christ, interpenetrating ours, sweetens, purifies, transforms all. This only can eradicate what is wrong, work a chemical change, renovate and regenerate, and rehabilitate the inner man. Will-power does not change men. Time does not change men.

CHRIST DOES.
Therefore, "Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."

Some of us have not much time to lose. Remember, once more, that this is a matter of life or death. I cannot help speaking urgently, for myself, for yourselves. "Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." That is to say, it is the deliberate verdict of the Lord Jesus that it is better not to live than not to love. It is better not to live than not to love.

Guilelessness and Sincerity may be dismissed almost without a word. Guilelessness is the grace for suspicious people. The possession of it is

THE GREAT SECRET OF PERSONAL INFLUENCE.
You will find, if you think for a moment, that the people who influence you are people who believe in you. In an atmosphere of suspicion men shrivel up; but in that atmosphere they expand, and find encouragement and educative fellowship.

It is a wonderful thing that here and there in this hard, uncharitable world there should still be left a few rare souls who think no evil. This is the great unworldliness. Love "thinketh no evil," imputes no motive, sees the bright side, puts the best construction on every action. What a delightful state of mind to live in! What a stimulus and benediction even to meet with it for a day! To be trusted is to be saved. And if we try to influence or elevate others, we shall soon see that success is in proportion to their belief of our belief in them. The respect of another is the first restoration of the self-respect a man has lost; our ideal of what he is becomes to him the hope and pattern of what he may become.

Jonathan Edwards: 

  1. THE NATURE OF CENSORIOUSNESS. It consists of a disposition to think evil with respect to —
    1. The state of others. It often shows itself in a disposition to think the worst of those about us, whether they are worldly men or Christians.
    2. The qualities of others. It appears in a disposition to overlook their good qualities, or to make very little of them; or to make more of their ill qualities than is just; or to charge them with those ill qualities which they have not.
    3. The actions or speech of others. This spirit discovers itself —
      1. In judging them to be guilty of evil actions without any evidence that constrains them to such a judgment (1 Timothy 6:4; Psalm 15:1-3; Proverbs 17:4).
      2. In a disposition to put the worst constructions on their actions.
      But here it may be inquired, "Wherein lies the evil of judging ill of others, since it is not true that all judging ill of others is unlawful? And where are the lines to be drawn? "To this I reply, that there are persons appointed on purpose to be judges, in civil societies, and in Churches, and that particular persons, in their private judgments of others, are not obliged to divest themselves of reason, that they may thus judge well of all. And therefore we are not forbidden to judge all persons where there is plain and clear evidence that they are justly chargeable with evil. But the evil of that judging wherein censoriousness consists, lies —
      1. In judging evil of others when evidence does not oblige to it, or in thinking ill of them when the case very well allows of thinking well of them (Proverbs 18:13).
      2. In a well-pleasedness in judging ill of others.
  2. HOW A CENSORIOUS SPIRIT IS CONTRARY TO CHARITY.
    1. It is contrary to love to our neighbour.
      1. We see that persons are very backward to judge evil of themselves. And, therefore, if they loved their neighbour as themselves, love would have the same tendency with respect to him.
      2. We see that persons are very backward to judge evil of those they love.
      3. We see, also, universally that where hatred and ill-will towards others most prevail, there a censorious spirit most prevails.
    2. A censorious spirit manifests a proud spirit. And this, the context declares, is contrary to the spirit of charity.Conclusion: This subject —
      1. Sternly reproves those who commonly take to themselves the liberty of speaking evil of others. How often does the Scripture condemn backbiting and evil-speaking! (Psalm 1:19, 20; Titus 3:1, 2; 1 Peter 2:1; Psalm 15:3).
      2. Warns all against censoriousness, either by thinking or speaking evil of others, as they would be worthy of the name of Christians.
        1. How often, when the truth comes fully out, do things appear far better concerning others than at first we were ready to judge.
        2. How little occasion is there for us to pass our sentence on others. Our great concern is with ourselves (1 Corinthians 4:5).
        3. God has threatened, that if we are found censoriously judging and condemning others, we shall be condemned ourselves (Romans 2:3).

Eiselen, Lewis, & Downey:  Taketh not account of evil. Cf. Mt. 18:21-22.

Charles Ellicott:  Thinketh no evil.--That is, does not dwell upon the evil done to her.

Joseph Exell:  Unsuspicious. "Thinketh no evil," and with this may be put purity.

Exell & Spence:  Thinketh no evil; literally, doth not reckon (or, impute) the evil. The phrase seems to be a very comprehensive one, implying that love is neither suspicious, nor implacable, nor retentive in her memory of evil done. Love writes our personal wrongs in ashes or in water.

Lee Gatiss:  Ou logizetai to kakon--Touchiness leads to the making of lists and an unforgiving attitude. This would hit home forcefully to a Church like the one in Corinth, which was riddled with factions, each no doubt taking note of how the others reacted. "The man who loves does not compile a dossier about his neighbour." In verse 6 adikia is (unexpectedly) parallel to aletheia--the Corinthians ought not to delight in a feeling of superiority over others, but they are to rejoice not merely with the "good" but with the "truth"--wherever that truth is found, even in an "opposing" faction.

John Gill:  thinketh no evil; not but that evil thoughts are in such a man's heart, for none are without them; though they are hateful, abominable, and grieving to such as are partakers of the grace of God, who long to be delivered from them: but the meaning is, either that one possessed of this grace of love does not think of the evil that is done him by another; he forgives, as God has forgiven him, so as to forget the injury done him, and remembers it no more; and so the Arabic version reads it, "and remembers not evil"; having once forgiven it, he thinks of it no more; or he does not meditate revenge, or devise mischief, and contrive evil against man that has done evil to him, as Esau did against his brother Jacob; so the Ethiopic version, by way of explanation, adds, "neither thinks evil, nor consults evil"; or as the word here used will bear to be rendered, "does not impute evil"; reckon or place it to the account of him that has committed it against him, but freely and fully forgives, as God, when he forgives sin, is said not to impute it; or such an one is not suspicious of evil in others, he does not indulge evil surmises, and groundless jealousies; which to do is very contrary to this grace of love.

Frédéric Louis Godet:  The phrase logizetai to kakon, "to reckon the evil", has been explained in the sense of suspecting evil or meditating it with a view to injuring others; but the article before kakon seems to indicate that the evil in question is there, realized, rather than an evil to be done; and as to the first meaning, it has been remarked, not without reason (see Edwards), that it would rather require enthymeisthai (Matt 9:4). It is better, therefore, to understand: "does not rigorously take account of the wrongs it has to bear from its neighbour"; compare 2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 4:6. Charity, instead of entering evil as a debt in its account book, voluntarily passes the sponge over what it endures.

John W. Gregson:  "thinketh (logizetai) or considers no evil;"

"Love often thinks of evil. To be otherwise is to be naive. But love does not spend all of its time in thinking about evil". ... Love thinks no evil; it does not keep a ledger of wrongs to repay later.

F.W. Grosheide:  Taketh not account of evil: to ponder the ways and means of doing somebody harm. Love has nothing to do with all those evils. Love also keeps away from the powerful influence of injustice and sides with the truth (cf. 1 Cor. 13:6). The situation in the world is different (1 John 3:4f).

Guthrie & Motyer:  It is not resentful; literally "it reckons (accountancy term) not the evil thing", i.e. it keeps no register of wrongs, and so harbours no resentment.

David Guzik:  Love ... thinks no evil: Literally this means "love does not store up the memory of any wrong it has received." Love will put away the hurts of the past instead of clinging to them.

  1. One writer tells of a tribe in Polynesia where it was customary for each man to keep some reminders of his hatred for others. These reminders were suspended from the roofs of their huts to keep alive the memory of the wrongs, real or imagined. Most of us do the same.
  2. Real love "never supposes that a good action may have a bad motive ... The original implies that he does not invent or devise any evil." (Clarke)

Matthew Henry:  Charity thinks no evil. It cherishes no malice, nor gives way to revenge: so some understand it. It is not soon, nor long, angry; it is never mischievous, nor inclined to revenge; it does not suspect evil of others, ou logizetai to kakon--it does not reason out evil, charge guilt upon them by inference and innuendo, when nothing of this sort appears open. True love is not apt to be jealous and suspicious; it will hide faults that appear, and draw a veil over them, instead of hunting and raking out those that lie covered and concealed: it will never indulge suspicion without proofs, but will rather incline to darken and disbelieve evidence against the person it affects. It will hardly give into an ill opinion of another, and it will do it with regret and reluctance when the evidence cannot be resisted; hence it will never be forward to suspect ill, and reason itself into a bad opinion upon mere appearances, nor give way to suspicion without any. It will not make the worst construction of things, but put the best face that it can on circumstances that have no good appearance.

H.A. Ironside:  [Love] ... thinketh no evil.” How apt we are to make snap judgments of people. One says, "I think everything she does is done ostentatiously." What business have you to be thinking those things? Love credits people with the best possible motives, and therefore because of that, "[love] ... hopeth all things."

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