Love Rejoices In the Truth

Title: Love Rejoices In the Truth

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:6

Time: June 17th, 2007

 

We turn again to 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, to continue in our series on love written by the Apostle Paul 2000 years ago. Under the inspiration of God Paul wrote what our generation desperately needs to hear about love. Why? Because our generation thinks it knows all about love, but really knows very little about love. Why does our age think it knows all about love? Because love is talked about in songs heard over and over again on the radio. Because love is depicted constantly on television and in movies. It is written about endlessly in novels, magazines, books, newspaper columns, and Internet chat rooms. It is talked about by people everywhere, more so than at any time before, in any age. So with all of this attention given to the topic of love we would think that our generation would just about know everything there is about the subject of love, and would be best equipped to carry it out successfully. Wrong. In fact, as things stand right now, our age is about the worst ever at this thing called love. More married couples are divorcing today than ever before. More families are breaking up today than in the past. There seems to be more conflict in relationships of all kinds today, not less. So for all of the talk, songs, depictions of love in our culture, for all of the attention love is getting, why is it that our age can’t get it right? The reason is that we are operating under a wrong definition of love, we are getting the wrong instructions how to love, and we are seeing the wrong examples of love illustrated in our culture. Unfortunately, the very worse role models for love – the people in Hollywood – are put forth as role models of love. The least knowledgeable people are made experts on the subject and give us absolutely awful advice. And the source of all understanding and instructions about what love really is, the wisdom from God found in the Bible, is typically ignored. No wonder our culture is in such a terrible state of ignorance and confusion about love, no wonder marriages are breaking up left and right, no wonder people are finding it harder and harder to get along today with each other in all situations. Unfortunately, Christians have been nearly just as confused as the rest of society because like the rest of society they too have neglected to go back to the source of all knowledge and wisdom, the Bible, and instead have listened to the voices of culture in respect to love. Unfortunately, Christians listen to the so-called “love experts” on Oprah just like others. Christians listen to the same love songs, watch the same movies, read the same novels that describe what love is, and Christians unknowingly buy into that false view of love as well – with disastrous results too. Some surveys even find that Christian marriages are more likely to end in divorce than in the general population! Clearly it’s time for everyone, but especially Christians to return to God, return to the Bible, and return to truth in understanding love. So let’s turn again to 1 Corinthians 13 to get the real truth about love from God’s Word. “Love doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth, “ 1 Corinthians 13:6.

 

First, “Love doesn’t rejoice in evil,” 1 Corinthians 13:6. Now one of the challenges of reading and studying God’s Word the Bible is first discovering what the Bible is actually saying, that is, figuring out what the words say and what the sentences mean in order to make sense of it. We have to figure out what is says before we can figure out what it means in order that we might apply it to our lives. In this passage, most Bible translations say roughly the same thing, although some are slightly different. The New International Version, which is the most popular version next to the King James, translates the verse, “Love doesn’t rejoice in evil.” The KJV is almost that, “Rejoiceth not in iniquity.” So for these and most Bibles, the verse means that love doesn’t delight or rejoice or enjoys evil, sin, wrong, or the bad. There are a couple of other understandings of the verse that I’ll cover also that could be correct. But I’ll get to that later. Most Bibles translate it to mean that love doesn’t delight or enjoy sin or evil. Love isn’t happy with something bad or wrong. Now we might think this is something that’s obvious. If you are a loving person you want what is good, right, and true. But that’s not so obvious today in the world we live in because people today don’t believe that love has any connection with absolute truth or goodness or rightness. Today, love is mostly seen as a strong feeling or emotion – and as such is really not connected with anything fixed like truth or right or good. Anyway, these things are all relative today, so most people think. What is truth? What is good? What is right? People today have given up on really getting to the source of these things and so the only thing left for them is personal inner feelings. Today in songs, on television and in movies love is totally separated from any absolute or permanent values. Love is a feeling; a strong emotion, a strong attachment, even an irrational action or a spell one falls under. And love can change instantly with no warning. One can fall into love quickly and fall out of it just as quickly. But love is hardly ever depicted as commitment or in any way a fixed, settled thing. That’s because people today have no grounding for love in anything other than themselves. But the Bible gives us something much better than that; it gives us grounding for love in God himself and especially in God’s Word the Bible. Here we learn what love is, how to love, and see examples of how love is lived out in life.  In this passage we learn that love rejects evil, sin, wrong, and bad. In other words, love is a good and true thing, grounded in God, not something connected with evil. It’s not like so much love is depicted today — as something one needs to sneak around to do, hide things, and keep things secret. For example, according to the Bible, an affair, so-called love outside of marriage — that isn’t love at all because it’s wrong, it’s sinful; it has nothing to do with love. David’s affair with Bathsheba – it wasn’t love, it was evil lust. So much of what is called love today is tainted with sin. But true love, the love God instructs us to walk in isn’t evil or sinful or wrong. Don’t ever think that you have to do wrong or sin in order to love someone; you don’t. Love operates in holiness of life not in the shadows of sin.

 

Second, again, “Love doesn’t rejoice in evil,” 1 Corinthians 13:6. Now I mentioned that there are a couple of other ways this passage can be interpreted. A few Bibles translate it something like, “Love doesn’t delight in injustice or in unfairness.” The word for “evil” can mean unrighteousness or injustice. For example, in the Gospels where it says Mary’s husband Joseph was a “just” man or “righteous” man, this is the same issue. Was Joseph a fair or just man, or was Joseph a holy or righteous man? Probably all of the above. But it’s the same thing with this passage. Does it mean love doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness or doesn’t rejoice in injustice or unfairness? Most Bibles see it as unrighteousness, most Christians and Christian thinkers throughout the history of the church have seen it as unrighteousness too. But if it does mean injustice, it would then be saying that love doesn’t rejoice in injustice. For example, love doesn’t rejoice in something that’s not fair, even if it is to one’s advantage. We must resist taking advantage of someone or something that isn’t fair. But there’s another translation of the passage in some other Bibles that sees the verse as saying, “Love doesn’t rejoice in another’s misfortune or another’s bad experience.” This is pretty easy to understand. Something bad happens to somebody else and I feel good. That’s not love. Somebody at work gets fired and you are glad. Somebody you don’t like gets injured and you feel good about it. The worst case of this is the report I heard that in the South somewhere when the news that President Kennedy had been shot and killed there were people who actually cheered. That’s not love. We should not get into the habit of rejoicing in other people’s tragedy. I know in some places in Iraq some of the people there rejoiced when Saddam Hussein was executed. That’s not what love does. It’s sad that it had to happen, even though it was fair for it to happen. Still, there is no cause of rejoicing. I think of the scene in the Wizard of Oz where all the munchkins are singing, “Ding Dong the witch is dead.” Yes, it’s good that the witch is dead, but rejoicing in her death or anyone’s death, and celebrating it is not appropriate. I get the feeling that some people might rejoice to see President George Bush dead. That’s not right. You don’t have to agree or like someone, but to rejoice in their misfortune or demise is wrong. Love doesn’t rejoice when bad things happen to people. We need to check our attitudes if we are secretly rooting for the destruction of people. Sometimes tough love calls for acting tough against evil, but love never calls for rejoicing in the downfall of people no matter who they are. If God sees that attitude in us He may just let something bad befall us. No. Love doesn’t rejoice in bad things happening.

 

Third, “Love rejoices with the truth,” 1 Corinthians 13:6. Now we come to the last part of the verse and it gives us a little unexpected turn. The first part of the verse talks about not rejoicing with the bad, so then we’d expect the last part of the verse to say something like, “Love rejoices with the good,” but it doesn’t. It says, “Love rejoices with the truth.” Why is that? It’s a reminder from God that there can be no good or bad without first there being truth. But by and large our culture has given up on truth, at least in absolute, truth from God. Now, today, all truth is relative; it’s all situational. Nobody likes to talk about truth for all times and places today. Today, everybody likes to talk about what is truth for me, truth for our time, our situation, our circumstance. Truth today is almost all something inside each person, not external for everyone. That’s why the Bible is so often ignored today because it is a book of truth from God for all people for all times that is not left up to each individual to feel or not feel, but is objective, external absolute and binding truth that everyone is obligated to obey or face the judgment of God at the end of time. But without absolute truth love is just a floating feeling. There is nothing left to say with love beyond “I feel” this way or that way. That’s why so many marriages are breaking up today, because there is nothing further to appeal to than each person’s feelings. But real love is grounded in truth, rejoices in the truth, celebrates the fact that there is a source of truth and that truth is revealed so that we don’t have to grope about in the dark shadows of doubt and despair. As Christians we need to recommit ourselves to God’s truth in order that we might know how to properly love others. It is only from God’s truth in the Bible that we can even know the truth about ourselves and the truth about others. Only from the truth of God’s Word can we know what real love is and how to really love. How? Because with God there is a fixed standard of love. In 1 Corinthians 13 we are learning some very clear and certain characteristics of love. We are learning that we cannot trust our feelings in trying to practice love. We are learning that there are certain things that love does and there are certain things that love doesn’t do. It isn’t all left up to how we feel about people how we will treat them. That’s because we are given truth from God about love and about many other things. Without such truth we are lost in a world without truth or we are left only with our changing and misleading feelings. Don’t base love on feelings, base it on truth, God’s truth, as found in the Bible and encouraged by God’s Spirit.

 

Let’s pray. “God, thank you for showing us what love is and how to love from your Word. Help us to always follow your Word in respect to love. Help us to put into practice what we learn about love from the Bible. Help us to always repent if we are wrong. Encourage us when we are right. Don’t let us get led astray by a culture that rejects your truth and goes on it’s own feelings. Help us to live according to your will not our own will. Teach us to be loving people who love with your kind of love, not the kind of false love that is all around us. Help us to be lights in the midst of darkness. Amen.”

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One Response to “Love Rejoices In the Truth”

  1. making dr true love Says:

    real love doctor…

    […]Love Rejoices In the Truth « Jeff Short's Weblog[…]…

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