This morning, we continue our message series helping us to better understand and live out unconditional love.
This series is entitled, “Love Is” and it is based on that familiar passage found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
We were created by God with the need for love that can only be expressed through relationships.
As there are different types of relationships, there are different types of love. There is, however, a type of love that we are to express toward anyone and everyone. In fact, the Bible teaches that if we learn how to express this type of love toward God and others, that we will entirely fulfill all that God’s law requires of us.
This distinct type of love is the love that God has for us. In the Greek language, it is the word agape. It is this type of unconditional love that we’ll be covering through this message series.
To be able to possess and express this unconditional love, we’re going to break it down into parts as Paul chose to do in his letter to the Corinthians. He taught all about spiritual gifts and said that it is not using these gifts that truly matters, but how we choose to use them, our motive, that matters to God. We can do all sorts of good things for God, but if we do not do them as an expression of God’s love, then they are pointless, useless, and meaningless.
1 Corinthians 13:1-6
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 14 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
What first comes to my mind when I hear of delighting in evil is that stereotypical villain laugh. You know, the muah-ha-ha-ha usually accompanied by the wringing of the hands.
Delighting in evil versus rejoicing with the truth could be understood by comparing a daytime soap opera to the family sitcoms of old.
Delighting in evil is that drama that leaves you on a cliffhanger watching multiple relationships getting torn apart and scandals left open everywhere. Rejoicing with the truth is that sitcom that ends with all conflict revealed and resolved and the family happily ending the day in togetherness and peace.
Delighting in evil is that character who blackmails others and is always spinning webs of deceit in an attempt to reveal the worst secrets in the lives of others or to simply make good people look bad. It’s that character who is always causing drama, but always appearing to be the victim of others.
It’s the Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz of Phineas and Ferb, the Stefano or Sami of Days of our Lives, the Sheev Palpatine of Star Wars, the Wicked Witch of the West of the Wizard of Oz, Scar of the Lion King. They’re just always scheming and stirring up drama wherever they are.
Rejoicing in truth is that character who always is able to bring people together and establish peace in the midst of conflict. It’s the character who exposes the truth and wisely deals with evil-doers. It’s that character who rights wrongs, defends the weak, and always saves the day.
It’s the Andy Taylor of the Andy Griffith Show, the Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote, the Ward Cleaver of Leave it to Beaver, the Charles Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie, and superheroes such as Batman or Superman.
Love does not delight in evil, but it does rejoice with the truth.
Love is truthful.
Now being truthful is easy when the truth is pleasing and flattering. It’s easy to be truthful when you really do look great with that new haircut, when you did an amazing job on that project, when you handled that situation perfectly, when you are so proud of them.
However, love is truthful even when you know that the truth is going to hurt.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
Love is truthful even when that truth will wound someone for a season. Love won’t continue to flatter you with lies, it cares about you enough to speak the truth for your own good. Love will truthfully tell you that you have something between your teeth, that your work was a weak in an area, that you could have handled that situation better, and that you are a little disappointed in them.
Love doesn’t delight in evil by hurting someone, but it does rejoice in the truth.
This act of love is the one that seems almost hypocritical at first. When someone acts unloving toward someone and it falls on you to confront them about that act, how do you do so in love? It is going to feel like you are acting unloving toward someone for acting unloving. It’s like spanking a child because they hit another child.
If our heart is right, if we do genuinely love and care about a person, then we will step in and lovingly confront someone when we need to. After all, they may sincerely not have realized that their actions were not loving and they will never know until they are informed. In fact, they will likely keep repeating the same offense over and over unless someone cares about them enough to step in and talk to them about it.
Love is truthful.
Paul was faced with this situation with an entire church. They had some things going well for them, but they had a huge list of issues that they were allowing and encouraging that needed to be stopped. Paul wrote a letter to them explaining what things they needed to improve on because he sincerely loved them and wanted only what was best for them. In his follow-up letter, he wrote:
2 Corinthians 7:8-10
8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
Paul’s love rejoiced in the truth. He didn’t rejoice because he hurt them, but he rejoiced because that hurtful truth lead them to repentance.
Love is truthful.
The most difficult part of love being truthful is that we have no control at all over the response of others when we confront them with the truth in love. All that we can do is be as wise and cautious as possible in how we communicate our hurtful truth and pray that they respond with repentance. After all, Paul taught that there are only two responses when we are lovingly hurt, repentance or death.
A huge indication of us maturing in our faith is how we respond to these loving hurts by others. No, it never feels good when others hurt us. However, if we train ourselves to learn from the truth behind that hurt instead of reacting to the emotion of that hurt, we will begin to grow and mature. David wrote:
3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
do not let me eat their delicacies.
5 Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.
If I’m being struck and rebuked by a person who loves me and they are doing it with truth, then it is an act of kindness meant to improve me. Yes, it hurts, no it does not feel good, no it does not feel like love, but yes, it is an expression of love. If we are hurt by those we love with truth, it is only so that we can heal better than we were before.
Love is truthful.
God loves us perfectly and He disciplines us because of it. Discipline is a tool used to form and shape us to become better than we are currently. It hurts and it isn’t comfortable, but it is for our ultimate good and benefit. God’s discipline causes hurt, but with the intent of making us whole. Every single one of us are faced with this loving discipline that doesn’t always feel so loving.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
The choice is whether or not we will allow ourselves to be trained by it, or simply hurt over and over and over again by it. Will we change or will we repeat our offenses? As we grow and mature spiritually, we will embrace when truth hurts us in love and be trained by it repenting and changing ourselves in response. The Holy Spirit within us wants to help us in that process.
However, our flesh wants to respond much differently. Our flesh wants us to put up walls between us and those people who speak uncomfortable truths into our lives. Our flesh wants us to remain in our sin and to find others who agree to keep us in it. The Holy Spirit wants God’s truth to set us free, the flesh wants God’s truth to tighten our chains. Our choice is to either listen to the voice of truth or the voice of our flesh.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. Truth may hurt, but if we train ourselves and allow it, truth will grow us and mature us and build us up to become more like Jesus. Remember that Jesus said:
… I am the way and the truth and the life. …
Jesus is the truth. Jesus is not a truth or some truth or partial truth, He is THE truth. Jesus is also the perfect expression of love. Yes, His truthful words hurt people from time to time, but those words of truth also always set the captives free, forgave the sinner, and healed the sick. The truth of Jesus always pierced the heart and revealed their true condition. The truth of Jesus is able to grow, mature, and transform our lives if we so allow it to.
1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
If we truly love one another, we will speak the truth in love to one another. We will do so not only when it is flattering and easy, we will also do so when it is challenging and even hurtful. Together, we will grow to become a mature body of Christ representing Him well.
Love is truthful.