Rejoice Not in Wrongdoing But in Truth

“Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but it rejoices in the truth” (v 6).

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

To truly grasp the meaning of what is being stated here we truly need to grasp the meaning of this word “love” (agape). The word means to prefer what God prefers, to embrace his will and to choose his choices, and to obey them in his power. It means that we are actively doing what the Lord prefers, as a matter of practice, of lifestyle. We are preferring to live our lives through Christ and not for ourselves.

So, if we are living our lives, exercising this kind of love for God and for others, we will prefer what is holy, righteous, godly, morally pure, honest, upright, and faithful, and we will honor God as Lord (Master) by how we live our lives. We will turn away from living in sin, and now by God’s grace we will be walking in fellowship with the Lord by walks of obedience to his ways and to his truth. Our desire is now for him, to do what pleases him.

So, this is not speaking of human love, of some mushy-gushy emotions or sentiment, though this kind of love definitely involves our sympathy and our mercy and compassion towards others. But it is not based on our feelings, on how we feel at the moment. But it is based in our actions, in doing to others what is for their benefit (spiritually, morally) and not doing what we know is going to be harmful and hurtful to them by sinning against them.

So, this is not saying that it is better to make moral or spiritual compromises in order to make people feel good about themselves and where they are. It is not saying that we should forsake our spiritual gifts in order to bring human comfort to sinners and to coddle them in their sins. For this “love” makes no compromises with the world of sin. We don’t stop telling people the truth just because it offends them or it makes them feel uncomfortable.

Now, truly there are people who can be obnoxious, harsh, and truly unloving in their approaches with others when sharing the gospel, but they are few in number these days. Now the bulk of those who even attempt to share any of the gospel soft-pedal it in order to not offend and so people don’t feel judged or uncomfortable. Most don’t even share the gospel any more or they share the ”light and fluffy” version which tickles itching ears and saves no one.

And that is not love! And we need to grasp that!! It is not loving or kind if we lie to people to make them feel good about themselves or if we withhold the truth of the gospel so that they don’t feel judged or uncomfortable or offended by the gospel message. We need to follow the example of Jesus here. He is love because he is God but he did not compromise truth or righteousness but he spoke boldly and directly the truth of the gospel.

So, if we are going to truly love others with this kind of love, we will speak the truth in love to them as Jesus did. We will not dilute the gospel message to make it more palatable to human flesh. For we care more about people knowing Jesus in truth and in righteousness, and them walking in obedience to the Lord, and them forsaking their sins and their idols so that they can truly have salvation from sin and eternal life with God, than anything else.

And so we will give up our own reputations and our own comfort level and our desires to be loved by others in order to tell them the truth that we know is going to set them free. And we will be willing to be hated, mistreated, falsely accused, misunderstood, despised, rejected, attacked, abandoned and forsaken by all so that others can hear the truth that will deliver them from their bondage to sin so they can walk in righteousness.

For this is how Jesus loved us, and this is how we are supposed to love others, with what is for their ultimate good foremost on our minds and on our hearts when we exercise our spiritual gifts. We won’t be exercising spiritual gifts for our own gain or praise or to lift ourselves up or to bring glory to ourselves or to make a name for ourselves. But we will humbly serve others in the ways God intended for their good.

So, if we are exercising our spiritual gifts but we are not showing love, then more likely what we are doing is soft-pedaling the truth so that people will like us without concern for the fact that we are lying to them with lies which will lead them astray and straight to hell on the promise of heaven. For we care more about ourselves and our own reputations than we care about their deliverance from bondage to sin and their true hope of eternal life with God.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Love is patient. It perseveres. It suffers long, including enduring unjust suffering at the hands of those who oppose the truth of the gospel. And it refuses to retaliate when treated unjustly. It is willing to endure much in the way of rejection, persecution, mistreatment, and false judgments in order to love others the way in which God loves us and gave himself up for us so that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness.

Love is kind, and if we are kind to others we will speak to them the truth in love. Lies are never kind. Withholding truth from people they need to hear and which will benefit them for eternity is also not kind. But many people are lying these days and are withholding necessary truth so that others will like them and think they are grand without concern that their lies may be sending those people straight to hell for eternity.

Love does not envy or boast. It does not lust after what others have and be jealous and even resentful that others have what we don’t. It definitely does wish that we have it and that they don’t. For love is not selfish and self-centered and greedy. And it does not act as a braggart or to show off or to crave attention from others, especially in order to pull attention away from others to itself. It is not self-centered but it is God-centered.

Love is not rude. It does not insist on its own way. It does not behave in ways which are crude, immoral, improper, indecent and dishonorable. And it does not take pleasure and laugh with others who are behaving that way, either. And it is not entertained by such behaviors. And it is not selfish, always demanding its own way, but it follows the way of love, truth, righteousness, holiness, and godliness and what is honorable.

Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but it rejoices in the truth. Amen! Amen! And this is the theme of this whole writing here. For, if we are telling people what they want to hear and not what they need to hear, thinking that is “love,” we are rejoicing with them in their wrongdoing and not in the truth which we are withholding and refusing to tell them. Especially we are doing this if we are telling them they don’t have to repent or obey God.

Love bears up under all things. It endures all things, which includes bearing up under persecution, mistreatment, false accusations, and rejection, because it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but it rejoices in the truth that most people don’t want to hear these days, because they want permission to continue in their wrongdoing with God’s “seal of approval” on their wrongdoing, which he does not give them.

Now, when this says that love believes all things it is obviously not saying that we should believe all things. For we are to believe only the truth and we are to discern and to reject all lies. And this word “believe” is the same as “faith” which comes from God, which is gifted to us by God, and which submits to God’s will and purpose for our lives. For it is divinely persuaded of God to forsake our sins and to walk in obedience to our Lord.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

Listen to Our Hearts

Songwriters: Geoff Moore / Steven Chapman

How do you explain, how do you describe
A love that goes from east to west
And runs as deep as it is wide?
You know all our hopes,
Lord, you know all our fears.
And words cannot express the love we feel,
But we long for You to hear.

So listen to our hearts.
Hear our spirit sing
A song of praise that flows
From those you have redeemed.
We will use the words we know
To tell you what an awesome God You are.
But words are not enough
To tell you of our love,
So listen to our hearts.

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