“Love . . . does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;” 1 Corinthians 13:6
Rejoice is: “to be glad in” and “to experience joy and gladness in a high degree; to exult.”
As I was examining this aspect of love, the thought came to mind, how is this applicable? Usually one thinks of love as a response or action towards someone.
When reading the first part of this chapter, it is fairly simple to understand how to show patience . . . to not brag and the like. But how do we show love to others by not rejoicing in unrighteousness but rejoicing with the truth?
Before going further, it is important to understand what unrighteousness is and what is the truth. As the Lord is all-righteous, unrighteousness would obviously be the opposite of that; that which is worldly, fleshly, separated from God, contrary to Scripture. This unrighteousness is not only portrayed through actions, but also in thoughts, beliefs, and words.
Romans 1:29 begins a list of sins with this negative quality “God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;” (Romans 1:29).
Unrighteousness and truth are at odds with each other. They are not compatible as is shown just a few verses prior to the above: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18). God’s wrath is against all that is unrighteous, all that is contrary to His holy name and perfect Word.
But what is truth? Scripture shows that truth is in the Lord alone. Ephesians 4:21 states that “truth is in Jesus”, and Christ Himself declared “‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’ ” (John 14:6).
The Scripture itself is truth: “your word is truth” (John 17:17) and “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13).
And the Holy Spirit whom the Lord has given to us upon believing in His name is described as “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17).
The contrast between these two, unrighteousness and truth, is clearly shown in Scripture. Though, it is often difficult to distinguish the difference in every-day life circumstances. Everything we do should be judged by the light of Scripture to discern whether or not what we are doing, thinking, and believing is of the truth or of error.
This discernment comes only through the word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit; and with that “. . . because of practice" (studying and examining God’s word and applying it to our lives) we will have our “senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14; emphasis added). To be able to discern between unrighteousness and truth.
But it is a choice that we must make between the two. Paul emphatically exhorts “do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6:13).
In our day to day life, we make the conscious choice to whom or what we are presenting ourselves to. It will either be to unrighteousness (that which is opposed to God), or to the Lord as instruments of righteousness (that which is in obedience to God.)*
Getting back to 1 Corinthians 13:6, how is not rejoicing in unrighteousness, but rejoicing in the truth a part of love? It is through love for people and for our Lord, that we do not approve the sin committed.
We are to not condone wickedness, nor approve of it . . . not in other’s lives and especially not in our own lives. We must disprove of, and not endorse, lying (even the ‘little’ lies), anger, hurtful words, bragging, false doctrine, cruelty . . . every sin, everything that is at odds against our Lord and Savior and His Word, we should respond to with the same heart that the Lord responds with.
Does this mean that we are to disprove of or hate those practicing or doing these sins? No indeed. Love is extended even though one sins for all have sinned and continue to sin, including ourselves (1 John 1:8, 10).
It always amazes me to think that the perfect, holy and true Savior, Jesus Christ “while we were yet sinners . . . died for us” (Romans 5:8). What love and mercy! And we are called to “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). As Christ loved, so should we love. As the Lord despises sin and desires righteousness, so should we. As God loves all men, so should we; and particularly those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).
It is through love, the pure love that comes from God, that we exhort, encourage, discipline, and if necessary, rebuke our brothers and sisters in the Lord. In the same token, we should have our hearts laid bare and open and earnestly desire to receive the same.
When we see or hear about our brothers and sisters walking in righteousness, our hearts response should be to rejoice with them. As John shared “For I was very glad . . . how you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (1 John 3-4).
Throughout Scripture, different writers will declare their joy upon hearing of the others’ faith, and that should be our heart’s response when hearing of the faith and truth in our brothers and sisters in the Lord. And all of this because we desire in obedience to our Lord to love . . . and true love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6).
“Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:9
*[It is important to clarify that one is not saved, nor holds onto, salvation by works. Nor can one lose their salvation. In the Scriptures, salvation is clearly shown to be obtained through one having faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ (believing in Him) and not by any physical work that one may do. (e.g. Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:16; Romans 4:3-5).
It is also shown that we are eternally secure in Christ (e.g. John 6:39-40; 1 John 5:13). Though some Scriptures may appear to suggest that one is saved by works and/or can lose their salvation, one must look at these verses in context with the whole of God’s Word, using Scripture to interpret Scripture knowing that it will not contradict itself].
-Posted by Sarah