Love rejoices with the truth!
When God tells us that love rejoices in truth, He means we are to desire, seek, and reflect His true Truth. We should realize how much God rejoices when are honest with His principles and teachings and seek to convey them to others. He is glad when we personally stand up to the pressures of life, and prevail with integrity and truth. We should stand up, affirm and support our friends and spouse, never lie to them, and never manipulate situations. God's Word is His love and truth. When we get into it and live it, we are showing Christ the Love He deserves. We should work hard and feel gratified to see injustice corrected, and people treating others with respect, kindness, and honesty. Because God loves us so much, we should live our lives so that we reflect the God of truth and justice and find delight when we see justice being played out in others. As Christians, we should get excited when justice prevails, and we should be mad enough to do something when injustice occurs, when we see the rights of others being violated (Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 2:17; James 2:1-9).
Authentic Love takes pleasure in truth and justice!
Contexts and Background:
This passage continues the absolute pattern of our Lord's nature that we are to imitate and follow. Each of these positive and negative love characteristics counters a problem this church faced, things that all marriages and churches face, and the issues in daily life we all face. Some use love as a weapon to put others down rather than build them up, to focus only on self and not others, and to listen to one's own truth instead of to God's true Truth. Thus, we see here that the characteristics of real Truth will be displayed in the faithful, not in the prideful. Here we are given an example of the positive fullness of real love and what it can do. That when it is not followed, it shows a church full of offense and not full of Christ, and then shows an empty church in need of the Truth of the Word by the Love of our Lord, just as these early Christians faced in Corinth (1 Cor. 4:6, 18-19; 5:2-8; 8:112:7; 14:3-26).
Commentary-Word and Phrase Meanings:
· Love. The Agape "love" here is a love that is not earned or something to be merely desired; rather, it is sacrificial, relational, and given freely thus illuminating real Truth like a neon sign on a dark night. This is the love Christ exhibited as He walked this earth and this is the love He calls us, commands us to take as our standard to exhibit in our daily lives! Thus, it is not a natural trait found in or given to anyone who is not regenerated by Christ. It is about the ultimate Truth of Christ impacting us so we give our all-deep kindness and support-to someone other than self so we show Christ's Truth, not our feeble relative truth, caught between our hurts and expectations. For love to be true, it must be beyond our selves and on the foundation of Christ and His Truth (Real love: Mark 12:28-31; John 3:16, Matt. 22:34-40; John 3:16; 13:1, 34-35; 14:1; 15:9; Rom. 1:31; 5:10; 12:10; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 2:4-7; Phil. 2:2; Col. 1:1-6; 3:12-14; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2:8; 3:6; 12; 4:9-10; 5:8; 13; 2 Tim. 3:3; Heb. 10:24; 1 John 4:7-12).
· Rejoices / rejoiceth / happy / trusts. This means to be full of joy and happy when the truth is spoken and prevails. We are to be motivated to trust God and always speak with and by truth. Thus, we can rejoice in all things, including hurts that people have done to us or could do, even suffering, because we have His Divine grace and love available to us as believers. Rejoicing happens when we realize life is not about our needs and plans; it is about how we can glorify our Lord, how can we be grateful, because Christ's work and suffering for our sins is sufficient for now and for eternity. Christ is sufficient and when we can take joy in all circumstances, then we will not worry about the small stuff. We can be happy in our personal lives even in the distress and difficulties of what we have been through and will go through in the future. We can see what God has done and is about to do, what has been accomplished, and how God has used us and worked in others' lives as well. We will feel extraordinarily joyful and content. When we see people come to the Lord, we can take heart and comfort that Christ is at work and in charge no matter what we face or have been through, so we can be happy in our work for Christ. The image is that Jesus takes our sorrows and turns them into joy (Ruth 3:2-7; Isa. 9:3; Ecc. 2:18; Matt. 24:21-22, 30; Luke 15:7-10, 32; 17:30; Acts 28:16-30; Rom. 13:11-14; 1 Cor. 7:29; 2 Cor. 2:15-16; 4:7-12; Eph. 6:16; Phil. 2:12-13; James 1:2; 1 Pet. 5:8-9).
· With / in the truth. We are to love and trust the Truth of our Lord and love in and with the Truth of our Lord! Genuine love points to Truth because it shows our faithfulness and conviction in our Lord, which allows us to give back so to demonstrate our Lord Jesus Christ. The Truth of love is the absolute, ultimate, and final apologetic to Who and What Christ is and has done. It is the true symbol of the precise attribute of God. It is the score, the soundtrack of our life and Christian character. It screams louder and harder than any answer or rebut, because it is shows who we are by how we are to demonstrate God's Truth to the world! This must be louder and bolder than the lesser standards and ways of the world, so others can see God reflected in us. If we do not do this, we will fail to show the splendor of Christ and the beauty of the holiness of God and His True Love. Instead of being His model of love, we will show a distorted image of God, so others will only see our flaws and impute them as His. They will know we are Christians by our love when the love of God is exhibited. Then, we become the caretakers of love so a distinction is given between the feeble, disjointed, and hurtful ways of the world and the grand splendor of what Christ has (John 13:33-35)!
· To not delight in evil so we can rejoice in others requires forgiveness and patience! This is the motivation that allows for the faults and flaws of others while showing acceptance and grace to them (as long as it is not an abusive situation). It is also waiting without demanding our will or control because we have serenity and direction from God. This will help us allow for growth as God takes the time to work through us to others around us (Hos. 2:19-23; Psalm 33:20; Matthew 27:14; Rom. 2:4; 5:3; 12:12; Gal. 5:1; Eph. 4:2; Col. 1:11; 1 Tim. 1:16; James 1:3-4,12; 5:10-11).
· To not delight in evil so we can rejoice with others also requires compassion; we will then be able to feel the plight and journey of others, to see things from their perspective and situation in life and not just from the smudged glasses of our hurt and disappointments. We can then sincerely express a deep care and concern that moves us to meet their struggles and needs. It all flows from our understanding of who God is, how He forgave us when we did not deserve it, and our resulting obedience, trust in, and gratitude for what He has done for us. Our lives must be motivated by who we are in Christ and nothing else (Job 29:13; Isa. 40:11; Mark 1:41; Luke 10:25-37; 19:4; Eph. 4:23; 1 Peter 3:8)!
Devotional Thoughts and Applications:
A person who does not have real love will be resentful toward others; he/she will be overly sensitive and touchy and every little thing will bother and will escalate toward combat that leaves others hurt and that will fuel other's anger and so forth. Love must stop us from taking ourselves too seriously and living in our past qualms and hurts so we can see our Lord and take His healing and be that example to others around us. Such a love that is set upon Truth will allow God's Truth to flow in us and then we can set ourselves to His standard. We will not be controlled by hurt or resentment or allow pride to dictate our path or God's plan in us or others. We will then be able to seek truth resulting in wise and healthy decisions, because our campus is God's Truth, and love is the navigational beacon we follow. We will then have healthy and content lives that model His goodness and display His wonders, lives that exemplify our Lord Jesus Christ. Good decisions, together with truth and love, will make good lives and good judgments, because we will look to facts, options, and consequences instead of only seeing problems, obstacles, and moods. If not, we will be in the sea of inequity and chaos leading to dysfunction as we are consumed by our past failings and wounds, causing God's witness in us to be skewed, clouded by pride and/or injury, and thus damaged and off course from His beacon of Truth and love (Phil. 3:15-16).
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me?
4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
9. What can I model and teach?
10. What does God want me to share with someone?
Read these two passages again in different translations (1 Corinthians 13:1-8; 1 John 4: 7-12)
1. Discuss your thoughts on this aspect of love.
2. Give a positive example.
3. Give a negative example.
4. How is this type of love working in you?
5. Why is this love not working in you?
6. What blocks this love from being exhibited in you?
7. What would it take to get this love working in you?
8. What are you willing to do about it?
1. Have you ever worked for a cause to seek justice for something that was wrong or hurtful?
2. Why does real love rejoice in truth and justice?How do you feel when injustice is corrected? How important is being motivated to trust God help you speak with and by truth?
3. Why is real effectual agape love not a natural trait found or given by anyone who is not regenerated by Christ? How is Truth the display of Christ that points to His work and plan?
4. How have you been honest with God's principles and teaching? What do good teachers do to convey to others the lesson as correctly as possible?
5. How does being truthful honor God? When you teach, what could you do better to be truthful? Why would a church leader not seek to do this?
6. How is the Truth of love the absolute, ultimate, and final apologetic (witness) to Who and What Christ is and has done?
7. How have you personally stood up to the pressures of life, and prevailed with integrity and truth when things did not go your way? What did you learn? How did this give you maturity?
8. Why would a Christian desire to stay stuck in the hurts and resentment of life? How does this cripple love and cause dissention in a church? What can be done?
9. How is it that when love is not followed correctly, it shows a church full of offense instead of Christ and then shows an empty church?
10. How is God's love sacrificial, relational, and given freely? How does your love level relate? What can you do better to point to real Truth?
11. How are the characteristics of real Truth displayed in you and your church? How and why is love muted by the prideful but highlighted by the faithful? What do you and your church need to do better in displaying and deploying Christ and His Truth?
12. How should we live our lives so that we reflect a God of truth and justice? What would your church look like? What can you do about this? When will you do it? What do you need?
© 2010, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org/