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God’s Word for You

1 Corinthians 13:6 Love rejoices

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, May 30, 2023

6 It does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth.

Paul’s continuing description of love doesn’t leave any room for a “live and let live” attitude toward theology or religion. Our behavior in the world is a direct extension of our faith in the heart, and a man who lives a life of sin is a man with a heart filled with nothing but sin.

The final kings of Judah were all condemned one after another for their unrighteous, wicked ways: Jehoahaz who “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 23:32) and Jehoiakim “who built his palace by unrighteousness” (Jeremiah 22:13). About Jehoiachin, the prophet said, “I will weep in secret because of your pride” (Jeremiah 13:17). And finally there was Zedekiah, “who became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord’” (2 Chronicles 36:13). He was so evil and unloved by the people that they preferred to reckon their calendar by the previous king, who had only reigned about three weeks (see Esther 2:6; Ezekiel 1:2, and 2 Kings 25:27-30). Each of those wicked men sought their own glory and not the Lord’s righteousness or truth. Unlike their great-grandfather Manasseh, there is no record of their repentance or return to the truth (2 Chronicles 33:12-13).

Love turns away from unrighteousness, and even rebukes it. Love will not let go but will be like Elisha rebuking his servant when Naaman the famous Syrian soldier came to the prophet to be healed of his leprosy. Although Elisha had refused payment for healing the man, his servant ran after him and lied about some needy students and took money and gifts for himself that were meant for someone else. Elisha’s judgment on the servant was severe: “Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you forever” (2 Kings 5:27). His servant’s leprosy would be a reminder of how he had fallen into the sin of greedy unrighteousness.

John says: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this (true) teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares his wicked work” (2 John 1:10-11). So when the Christian, in love, refuses to have anything to do with a false teacher, it is not an unloving act, but a loving one. It is meant to keep the believer safe from more false teaching (which is like an infection) and also a judgment that the false teacher will hear. Paul told Titus: “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him” (Titus 3:10).

Love especially rejoices at the truth. This is not just being happy when the truth is proclaimed, although it must be happy and express this, because so many hate the word of God and the truth of God’s revelation for mankind. But love means turning from sins against the Fifth Commandment in particular: all sins of hatred and anger and the terrible things that come from them (murder, war, robbery, arson, quarreling and bickering, poisoning, being angry about someone else’s good fortune or rejoicing over his misfortune). Love also means being patient, meek, kind, peace loving and merciful. Love means having a tender and friendly heart, and a desire to live in harmony with God’s people and with enemies as well. Love is sad when someone is misled about the truth or misled into falsehood.

How closely love is connected to faith! “The only thing that counts,” Paul says, “is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6). And he praises the Ephesians from prison: “I heard about your faith in the Lord and your love for all the saints” (Ephesians 1:15). To the Thessalonians he says “Timothy has brought good news about your faith and love” (1 Thessalonians 3:6), and again, “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Love shows the Christian’s faith in everything he does. Love is like a tool or a skill in the believer’s acts. It is like a tool at work wherever the blueprint of faith is followed closely. For the one is the stamp of God’s plan in our heart, and the other is the working of that plan in our lives.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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