Love Rejoices Not With Iniquity, But Rejoices With the Truth
Charity [agape love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. — 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
Have you ever secretly rejoiced when you heard that someone you didn’t like or someone you disapproved of had gotten into some kind of trouble? Upon hearing of that person’s difficulty or hardship, perhaps you were tempted to think, Serves him right! He deserves what he’s getting! After what he did to me and to so many others, he deserves a little punishment! If this describes you, let me tell you — this is not the way God’s love reacts to such situations!
There was once a man who seriously wronged our organization. What he did was so wrong that if the events concerning him had occurred in a Western nation, he would have been judged in a court of law and sentenced to prison for his actions. But because it was not in a Western nation and many complications existed in this case, all my wife and I could do was let it go and pray for God to deal with this individual. We knew if he didn’t repent, he would come under severe judgment.
In the years since that event occurred, this man has come into many miserable hardships in his life. His children fell into terrible sin; he lost everything financially; and his reputation became stained because of the many things he had done to a whole host of people. When I first met this man, he went to church and had a ministry; the touch of God was on his life. But he became a mess of a man — one of the saddest stories I have ever personally known.
When this individual first began to fall into trouble, I found myself privately wanting to rejoice that judgment had finally come his way. Then the Holy Spirit convicted my heart, and I realized that rejoicing in this man’s trouble was not the way the love of God behaves. After allowing the Spirit of God to deal with my heart, I began to inwardly mourn over the condition of this man who had once been so mightily used by God.
In First Corinthians 13:6, Paul wrote that love “…rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” The phrase “rejoiceth not” comes from the Greek phrase ou chairei. The word ou means no or not, and the word chairei is from the word chairo, which is the Greek word for joy. It carries the idea of being glad about something. It is the picture of a person who is euphoric over something that has happened. Other words to describe chairo would be overjoyed, elated, ecstatic, exhilarated, thrilled, jubilant, or even rapturous. The word “iniquity” is the Greek word adikos, which conveys the idea of an injustice or something that is wrong or bad.
The entire phrase ou chairei could be translated in the following way:
“Love does not feel overjoyed when it sees an injustice done to someone else.…”
My secret desire to rejoice at this other individual’s hardships was completely contrary to the love nature of God. Even though this man had done wrong to me and to many others in the Christian community, the right response was to pray for his restoration. Real love simply doesn’t rejoice at someone else’s misfortunes.
Then Paul goes on to tell us that when someone else gains some kind of advantage in life that we have been desiring, love isn’t threatened by that person’s success but rather rejoices with his victory! The word “rejoice” is again the Greek word chairo, the same word used above.
This means the second part of this verse could be translated:
“…Love is elated, thrilled, ecstatic, and overjoyed with the truth.”
When you see other people blessed — perhaps receiving a blessing or special attention that you have longed to receive yourself — are you able to truly rejoice with them? Does it thrill you to know that other people are moving upward in life? Or does it threaten you and make you sad when you see someone else receiving a blessing you wished was yours?
How you respond to other people’s troubles and blessings reveals a great deal about your true level of spiritual maturity. So ask yourself:
- Do I rejoice when I hear bad news about someone who did me wrong in the past? Or does it break my heart to hear about the problems that person is facing?
- When someone steps into the blessing I’ve been believing for in my own life, am I elated for that person, or does it make me turn green with envy?
It’s good to ask yourself these questions and to let the Holy Spirit deal with your heart about these issues. Why don’t you take a little time today to let God’s Spirit search your heart and show you if you can improve in these areas of love in your life?
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I ask You to help me overcome those fleshy moments when I am tempted to rejoice at someone else’s hardships. I must admit that when I hear something has happened to a person who wronged me, something inside me secretly rejoices. I know that this is wrong and that it is not the way You behave. Please forgive me for responding in a way that is contrary to love. Help me to be concerned and prayerful for every person who is undergoing any kind of hardship in life — even those who have acted like they are my enemies.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am blessed when I see someone else receiving a blessing or special attention. It thrills me when I see other people moving upward in life. Even when someone steps into the blessing I’ve been believing for in my own life, I am elated for them!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. When you see other people receiving a blessing or special attention that you long for yourself, are you able to really rejoice with them? Does it thrill you to know that other people are moving upward in life?
2. Would you have to honestly say that it upsets you and makes you sad when you see someone else receiving a blessing that you wished was yours?
3. Do you rejoice when you hear bad news about someone who did you wrong in the past, or does it break your heart to hear about the problems he or she is facing?