Love Rejoices

Love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

Not in unrighteousness

Love takes no pleasure in disobeying God. Some people rejoice over their own sin. We see it when men (or women) brag about their sexual adventures or share stories of drunken revelry. We see it when celebrities try to create moral outrage over their behavior just to get more attention. But God warns against those “who rejoice in doing evil, and rejoice in the perversity of the wicked” (Proverbs 2:14). Sin all too often involves using other people, exploiting them, hurting them, tearing them down. Love, which seeks others’ good, finds no joy in that.

Love doesn’t rejoice in someone else’s sins. Romans 1:32 condemns those who condone the wickedness of others and imitate it. Are we careful not to lend our approval to wrongdoing by participating in it, supporting it financially, or standing by in silence?

On the other hand, some folks rejoice at other people’s sin because it makes them feel holier. Jesus told a story of a man who tried to exalt himself by emphasizing the shortcomings of others (Luke 18:10-14). When someone else does wrong, do you feel like congratulating yourself for being superior?

Some even seem glad to see others hurt as a result of sin. When some public figure gets caught up in a scandal, does it make you want to laugh at him or cry for him? And does your answer depend on who the person is? Love isn’t happy at anyone’s being mired in sin, because its reward is death (Romans 6:23). God said, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11). Our Father doesn’t rejoice when sin bears its awful fruit. How can we?

But with the truth

“This is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (2 John 6). Modern thinking often confuses love with acceptance. It tells us to ignore religious differences, no matter how serious they are, and embrace each other in fellowship. It says that if we truly care about someone, we will accept their behavior, no matter how immoral. But spiritual compromise is not the love God describes. When confronted with false teaching or immorality, love responds with truth. It stands for what is right, even if that isn’t always pleasant (see 2 John 10-11; 2 Thessalonians 3:5-6). Love is never unkind or abusive (which all of us would do well to remember), but it is unwavering in its commitment to Christ. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

Love rejoices with the truth. It delights in God’s law (Psalm 1:2). Love is happy to hear the gospel and think on it. Do you look forward to an extra Bible study or a gospel meeting with eager anticipation, or is it more like dread? Love is happy to proclaim the gospel. A person who loves God’s word will share it; it becomes a fire in his heart (Jeremiah 20:9). And love is happy to see others obey the gospel. “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 3).