Question: "What does it mean that love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6)?"
Answer: First Corinthians 13:4-6 contains a list of several things love “does not” do. The final item in this list is that love “does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” Love loves the truth. Love does not love evil, or, as the ESV puts it, “it does not rejoice at wrongdoing.”
Corinth was an evil place with pervasive idol worship and rampant sexual immorality. The recently converted Christians in Corinth sometimes had a hard time shaking the old habits. One man involved in egregious immorality had been tolerated in the church (chapter 5), and the Lord’s Supper had been dishonored to the point of including gluttony and drunkenness (chapter 11). To combat these evils, Paul taught that love does not enjoy or “delight in” such actions; rather, true love finds joy in truth and righteousness.
Psalm 1:1-2 offers the proper attitude concerning truth: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” The “blessed” person despises evil but loves God’s truth, reflecting upon it constantly.
Psalm 5:4 says, “You are not a God who delights in wickedness.” The God who is love (1 John 4:8) delights in what is true and just. God loves us, and He “desire[s] truth in the inner parts” (Psalm 51:6). In other words, God does not ignore our sin just because He loves us. In fact, it is because of His great love that He provided the means of cleansing our sin in Christ (1 John 4:10).
True love rejoices in what is right and good. Anything that covers up sin or seeks to justify wrongdoing is the polar opposite of godly love. Love does not sweep sin under the rug. Love does not try to find ways to get away with bad behavior, and it does not put up with injustice. Instead, it treasures truth, celebrates good behavior, and promotes virtue. True love has nothing to hide.
Further, to “not delight in evil” carries the idea of not gloating over someone else’s guilt. It is common for people to rejoice when an enemy is found guilty of a crime or caught in a sin. This is not love. Love rejoices in the virtue of others, not in their vices. Sin is an occasion for sorrow, not for joy.
Basically, to exhibit God’s kind of love, we must have God’s perspective on sin and righteousness. The better we understand love, the more we will sorrow over those who commit sin. The more we love the truth, the better we can love those around us.
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