Rejoicing with the Truth

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

This word “love” can mean so many different things. Yes, this passage of Scripture gives a good definition of what this love is, but even that can be misinterpreted if one has the wrong concept of what love is. For the kind of love being spoken about here means to prefer what God prefers.

For, many people are reading this passage of Scripture and they are misinterpreting the meaning of love. They are defining love in a way that coddles people in their sin, which does not confront sin, and which does not call for repentance and changed lives.

So, if you are speaking the truth in love, and you are sharing the gospel as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, you may often be chastised as not being loving or kind, or as someone who is keeping a record of wrongs, by those who consider lying to people as being loving and kind.

God is love! So, we must interpret the word “love” here with that context. We must love as God loves, not necessarily like humans love, if their love is skewed by their human flesh. God is our model for how we are to love others, especially while exercising the gifts of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

The key verse here is verse six: “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” Combine that thought with the knowledge that this word “love” means to prefer what God prefers – which is all that is holy, righteous, and godly – and it means to love others as God loves us.

Therefore, when it says here that love is kind, it doesn’t mean “kind” like a lot of humans mean kind. It doesn’t mean to tell people lies to make them feel good about themselves, and it doesn’t mean withholding the truth of the gospel so as not to offend people, either.

The kindest thing we can ever do for anyone is to tell them the truth, in love, about Jesus, and about our salvation. It is to tell them that Jesus died on that cross so that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died to free us from our slavery to sin.

Love is also not selfish. It is not self-seeking, thinking only of self. And when we refuse to tell people the truth of the gospel or talk with them about sin and repentance and obedience, we are thinking only of self. For we are more concerned about them liking us than we are about where they will spend eternity. That is just the reality of the situation.

And when this says that “love keeps no record of wrongs,” it means we don’t trade tit for tat. We don’t keep a record of other people’s sins so that we can make sure that we pay them back evil for evil.

It doesn’t mean we ignore sin, especially willful, deliberate, and habitual sinful behaviors. The Scriptures are clear on that. Even though God forgives us our sins when we repent and we turn to follow Jesus with our lives, he still notices when we sin, and he still speaks to us about it.

And he tells us that we must deal with sinful behaviors in the church, and that we must speak the truth in love one to the other, and that we are to restore one who has fallen back into sin to a walk of faith and obedience, and that we are to turn sinners from their sinful ways.

For, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. So, it IS NOT LOVE if it coddles people in their sin, and if it is entertained by the sins of others, and if it refuses to confront sin and call for repentance.

So, we don’t protect people by helping them to hide their sin. We don’t put our trust in other humans, either, especially in those who we know are living in sin. But our trust needs to be in God alone. Our hope needs to be in God alone, too, and we must persevere in our walks of faith until the end.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13 NIV

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

God-like love (agape) never fails because it comes from God, because God is love, and because it centers in moral preference, and it prefers what God prefers, i.e., it chooses his choices for our lives, and it chooses to live through Christ for the glory and praise of God.

The gifts of the Spirit, though, are temporary. Some people believe all or half of them are no longer operative in the church. I don’t believe that is biblical. Some of them use this passage as their proof text, but that is not what this is saying. It isn’t saying they are gone.

What it is saying is that the gifts of the Spirit will one day cease when Jesus returns and he takes us to be with him forever, for they will no longer be needed. For now, they are necessary for the building up of the body of Christ to maturity in Christ (Rom 12; 1 Co 12; Eph 4).

But faith, hope and love will remain. But the greatest of these is love because God is love and we are of God and we are to love one another as God loves us. But just keep verse six in mind always. For, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

In Harmony

An Original Work / September 2, 2012
Based off Ro. 12:9-21; 1 Pet. 3:8-17

Love each other truly.
Cling to what is good.
Hate all that is evil.
Never lack in zeal.
Serve the Lord with fervor.
Joyful in hope be;
Patient in affliction;
Praying faithfully.
Honor one another.
Live in harmony.

Share with all God’s people
Who are found in need.
Do not be conceited.
Sympathetic be.
Love, and show compassion
In humility.
Keep your tongue from evil.
Peaceful you must be.
Honor one another.
Live in harmony.

God sees who are righteous;
Listens to their prayers.
But He’s against evil –
Is His to avenge.
Do not fear what they fear.
Suffer patiently.
In your hearts, make Christ Lord.
Serve Him faithfully.
Honor one another.
Live in harmony.

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