Love does not Rejoice in Unrighteousness, but Rejoices with the Truth

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 13:4-8a; Proverbs 24:17; Philippians 1:15-18

Many of us will recall when Paul Harvey used to grace the radio airways with his “The Rest of the Story” broadcasts. On one occasion he spoke as to why good news won’t sell in media broadcasts and newspapers, saying, “The reader does not want to read about some rich man who’s healthy and happily married. But if the rich man is divorced or diseased or loses his money, that’s more interesting reading, because then the reader can feel himself to be better off. There’s always somebody in any hospital ward just enough worse off to help us feel comparatively fortunate, and noisy news serves that purpose. And thus the plane crash which does not involve you, the billionaire in bankruptcy, the charity boss caught stealing, the movie actor charged with murder, these will continue on Page One as long as the fire which burns them warms the rest of us.”

Christ-like love is never glad for bad, but is glad whenever truth prevails. Therein lies the problem for us with respect to loving like Jesus. We don’t always act this way.

Ray Pritchard, “Love does not delight in evil. It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, is not glad about injustice, and is not happy when evil triumphs. And it takes no joy in hearing evil openly discussed. Love is never glad to hear bad news about another person. Love never says, “Well, they finally got what they deserved.”  Love is never happy to hear that a brother or sister fell into sin.  Love does not enjoy passing along bad news. This certainly goes against the grain of modern life. We all know that “Bad news sells” and that good news goes on page 75. That’s why they put those supermarket tabloids right by the checkout counter. We all want to hear the latest juicy gossip about our favorite celebrities. True love isn’t like that. It turns away from cheap gossip and unsubstantiated rumors. And even when the rumor turns out to be true, love takes no pleasure in the misfortunes of others.”

Instead love rejoices with the truth.  The religious leaders chided Jesus because He was hanging out with tax collectors and sinners.  He responded with a series of parables which spoke to the purpose for which He had come–to seek and save that which was lost.  Addressing this, He spoke of a shepherd having one hundred sheep, which would leave the ninety-nine to go in search of one that is lost.  And when it is found, Jesus said, there’d be much joy.  And so it is when a lost person comes to the knowledge of the truth: “Just so,” Jesus said, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).  That’s the way things are supposed to be.  Remember what happened with the prodigal son?  He came to his senses and was restored to his father, and there was much joy.  But not for the elder brother who grumbled over the good.  Love rejoices for the right things and for the right reasons.  As Gordon Fee put it, “The person full of Christian love joins in rejoicing on the side of behavior that reflects the gospel—for every victory gained, every forgiveness offered, every act of kindness.”

So how are we to love like Jesus in this way?  First we need to acknowledge that in the flesh we have a nasty tendency to be glad for bad.  Then, we need to be led and empowered by the Spirit and the Word to think God’s way about such things.  Jesus is the best example of One who never rejoiced in unrighteousness (He was never glad for bad).  He rejoiced with the truth and was in fact born into the world to “bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). 

In a society obsessed with bad news, we need to be people who delight in the good.  Jesus is the truth.  The gospel is the gospel of truth.  To be saved is to come to a knowledge of the truth.  If we are to love like Jesus, we need to be the truth’s biggest cheerleaders.  Whenever and wherever truth prevails, we rejoice along with the angels in heaven.  As we love like Jesus in this manner, it’ll work to help us to build and maintain healthy relationships and bear a credible testimony before the lost (Philippians 1:27)!

Love is Never Glad for Bad, but Rejoices Whenever the Truth Prevails

Praise You Heavenly Father for Your goodness! You are good and do good–always and forever! Any good in this world and any good in me can be traced back to You! Forgive us for our sinful tendency to delight in bad news! There is so much of it in this world. And our flesh is drawn to it. But that’s not love. Work a change in our hearts Lord! Even as the Spirit grieves over sin, may our hearts grieve too. Thank you for the truth, Lord! Thank you for its work in our lives! May our hearts be so very glad for Your truth! May it overflow our hearts and govern our thoughts. In love, may we speak and do according to the truth of Your Word. That You might be glorified in the triumph of the working of Your truth in our lives and in the lives of others. Amen.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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