‘Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth’ (1 Corinthians 13:6)
If we are going to rejoice with the truth, how do we know what truths to celebrate? Implied in this, surely, is the idea that the Bible is to be our compass by which we assess what is true and what is not. We are not left to make up what is good and bad. We are not to decide on our own personal morality.
LOVE CELEBRATES THE GOSPEL
Firstly, this is surely about rejoicing in the truth of the gospel. The Corinthians were being tempted to add to the gospel message in a way that makes it and them less foolish and more socially respectable. We read:
‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ (1:18)
‘Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.’ (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
To rejoice in what is true, we must be prepared to be considered foolish or worse. The death of Jesus to save sinners seems odd to many and hateful to some. Paul also writes:
‘It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’’ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)
To celebrate the truth of the gospel means that we ‘boast in the Lord’. This is loving; it’s loving to God who gave His only Son to save us; it’s also loving to one-another in the church because to rob people of confidence and a focus on the gospel is deeply damaging; Rejoicing in the gospel is also loving to those outside of the church who need us to be witnesses. Paul was able to say of his own emphasis on the simple gospel:
‘And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.’ (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
Many in our culture, and the devil certainly wants us to rejoice in what is evil; there is pressure to be ashamed of, to add to or to reject the simple gospel that saves. To embrace other religions and means of ‘salvation’ is to ‘rejoice in what is evil’! This sounds harsh but we are warned,
‘I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!’ (Galatians 1:6-8)
We can be tempted to nullify or celebrate other things over the gospel. Our message begins to emphasise phycology, worldly philosophy, funny stories, moving anecdotes… We have moving music and testimonies which are cross-less!