Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Love: The More Excellent Way, Part 6

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:6

I found this particular phrase set interesting. Paul is shifting back from the negative statements to the positive ones. These two characteristics are the only two that are directly compared via opposition to one another. If you were asked to finish the sentence "Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in ...", what word would you choose? Righteousness, or perhaps obedience? Maybe faithfulness? On the surface, "truth" doesn't seem to fit here, and that should make us take notice.

When I think of the word "truth" in relation to the Bible, pretty much the first verse that comes to mind is John 8:32: "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." But this verse is even more compelling in the context, and it helps to explain Paul's interesting choice of truth as an opposition to unrighteousness. 

John 8 (ESV)
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Jesus says in verse 32 that you will know the truth by abiding in His word (i.e. studying and obeying His commands) in verse 31. He then explains what that freedom is from in verse 34: freedom from being slaves to sin. The key to escaping slavery to unrighteousness is to know the Truth that is Jesus.

It never ceases to amaze me that there are people who consider telling someone the truth about what they are doing or how they are living as being unloving or not compassionate towards that person. There are certainly many factors to consider to deliver such a message with gentleness, but without truth, such "loving" words are just useless fluff with no substance. Don't just treat the chaffing of the shackles against their skin. Set them free from bondage with truth!

Love rejoices in the truth because it is truth that sets us free from unrighteousness. One of my other favorite verses about truth is Jesus's statement to Pilate in John 18:37: "I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth." Do you want to show love to your brothers and sisters? Do you want to be more Christ-like? You must rejoice in and testify to truth.