We’ve been studying 1 Corinthians 13. Last week, Rev. Donna Lucas was gracious to continue the theme of our series while I was away celebrating my son’s marriage, preaching “Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs”. It was a wonderful weekend celebrating their love.
1 Corinthians 13 is popularly known as the “love chapter”. It is the number one scripture read at weddings and it certainly does give invaluable advice to a husband and wife about how they should love each other. However, this chapter was not originally written for weddings or newlyweds. It isn't specifically about romantic love at all. 1 Corinthians was written to correct a dysfunctional church.
The Corinthian church had a lot of serious problems. There were power struggles and jealousy among the members. Some were claiming spiritual superiority and expecting special treatment. Some were abusing the sacrament of Holy Communion and getting drunk on the communion wine while others were being left out of the meal altogether. In Corinthians 5, we read that one Corinthian man was sleeping with his father’s wife (his stepmother) and the church ignored his sexual immorality. Paul writes, “You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship.”
Paul wrote the first letter to the Corinthians to reprimand the church and try and bring them back to authentic Christianity. The letter comes to a climax in the 13th chapter as Paul explains that the most important thing is love. It all comes down to love. But the kind of love we’re talking about is not some wishy washy, warm and fuzzy kind of love. It’s a deep, sacrificial love—the way God loves us, a love demonstrated best by Christ when He died for sinners on the cross. Let's review 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
1 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Love Does Not Rejoice About Injustice
The NLT says, love “does not rejoice about injustice”. The NIV translates it “Love does not delight in evil…” The world today has a warped idea about “Love”. People today value tolerance, so naturally they like the idea of love being patient and kind. But, most people would prefer to chop off that part that says love does not delight in evil. Biblical love holds people accountable to God’s Holy Truth.
A big part of the problem is how people define what is evil. The world has one standard, and that standard changes from generation to generation. Things that were considered evil when I was a child are accepted and even praised as good and wholesome today. However, God’s standards of good and evil never change and they are preserved in God’s Holy Bible.
Christian love holds people accountable to God’s standards of good and evil. That is why the Apostle Paul can write to the Corinthian church about love and also say in the same letter: “It isn’t right for a man to sleep with his stepmother. You need to remove this man from your church if he won’t repent of his sin.”
Real love doesn’t put up with evil and injustice; it holds people accountable.
We see a lot of evil and injustice in our world today. And Christians who are loved by God in Christ and who also profess to love God and love our neighbors ought to call out evil and injustice whenever we see it.
We should start with ourselves--as individuals and then as the Church. Jesus once said, “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Matthew 7:3) So where do we see evil injustice in our own lives? Don’t let pointing the finger at someone else’s sin be an excuse to ignore your own. Examine yourself. Ask the Lord to reveal where you have fallen short. Repent of your sin and ask the Holy Spirit to reform you.
On the other hand, don’t let your own imperfection be an excuse to rejoice about evil and injustice in the world either. Some will shy away from calling sin “sin” because they are too ashamed of their own sin to say anything to someone else. So they keep silent and their silence condones what is evil.
But love doesn’t only go around telling people how wrong they are. Love “rejoices” when the truth wins out. Love is happy when people finally get it. Love is overjoyed when it sees someone earnestly repent and turn to God. Love celebrates with a feast when a prodigal son comes home and reconciles with his estranged father. Love looks for the good and celebrates it every chance it gets!
Jesus is the very best example of true love. I guess this is because God is love and Jesus is God so Jesus is Love in Love’s purest form. Jesus never condoned evil. Yet, in love, Jesus knew how to call out evil and call people to repentance and also to rejoice whenever the Truth won.
I want to close with a story from Jesus’ life that I think illustrates how love "does not delight in evil but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.” It comes from Luke 7:36-50.
36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
I learned in Sunday school a couple months ago that this jar of perfume was probably used by the woman as part of her “trade”. Her trade was probably the oldest profession (prostitution). If so, she would want to use perfume to make herself more attractive to her clients. When Matthew and Mark tell this story in their Gospels, they say the woman smashed the jar of perfume—symbolic showing she was never going back to her sinful life.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”
40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
Jesus, gave His life so that we can repent of our sins and return to God as Lord. When we accept God as rightful Lord of our life and surrender to His will, we are saved by the sacrificial love of Christ.
Examine yourself now, and ask, “Lord, show me the sin for which I need to repent today so that I may come to Your table and celebrate how Your Truth has won the victory in my life today.”
May the Lord show you and may you repent and follow Christ. Amen.