Love Does Not Rejoice in Evil

Rob Green June 1, 2014 1 Corinthians 13:1-4

4 ways that love does not rejoice in evil, and 4 ways we can think about love finding joy in what is right

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I. Love Does Not Rejoice in Evil

Love finds no pleasure either in doing wrong or in supporting what is wrong.

A. Love is not excited about evil itself

Isaiah 5:20 - Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

B. Love is not excited about wanting others to sin

1 Peter 4:3-4 - For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;

C. Love does not spread sin

Proverbs 10:12 - Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

Proverbs 11:13 - He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.

Proverbs 17:9 - He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.

Proverbs 28:13 - He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

D. Love does not participate in sin

Galatians 2:11-14 - But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

II. Love Rejoices in the Truth

 

Love finds joy in living according to truth and supporting all that is true

A. Love invests time into the truth

Psalm 1:1-2 - How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.

B. Love spends its time talking about things that are good

C. Love is excited to share the works of God

D. Love is thrilled when another person succeeds

Conclusion

Recognize your willingness to rejoice with evil is inconsistent with biblical love

Repent for a heart that found joy in evil rather than truth

Remember that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you and he stands ready to forgive you

Apply the heart of excitement whenever Truth wins.

 

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This year our theme has been “Loving Our Neighbors” and in order to understand and apply that theme, we've heard a series of messages on 1. Why should I care? When we were encouraged to care about those in various situations such as the poor or the hurting or widows. Then we thought about the way that Jesus loved by particularly focusing on John 13-17 where Jesus chooses to focus on his disciples in the hours just leading to his suffering. Then what we've been doing the past several weeks is thinking about the characteristics of love, in other words, seeking to find out how does the Bible talk about true, honest, biblical love and we've been doing that through a careful exposition through 1 Corinthians 13 with the hopes that we would grow, not only in our understanding of what biblical love is, but also in our ability and willingness to apply it.

The characteristics we're going to consider in just a few moments are love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth and before I get into that too much, I want us to just think for a second about what we've done so far and in yellow are the characteristics that we've already seen such as: patience, takes evil from others, not jealous, rejoices in the good of others, not bragging, prideful or rude and yet having kindness. I hope as you have thought about those characteristics and evaluated your own love, I hope that some of you are thinking, “You know, I’m not sure I’ve ever really loved like this. I'm not sure that if you had to stack up my love against the characteristics given in the Scriptures, I’m not sure that evaluation would turn out so well.” If you're thinking that then maybe one of the reasons that you're thinking it is that you have never come to the place where you have trusted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and so this is quite frankly impossible. It's impossible and there's no amount of picking yourself up by your own bootstraps or just wanting it that's going to make it happen. Instead, I hope that this series encourages you to see the significance of your need for Christ, that you would repent of your sin and put your faith and trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Maybe part of the reason isn't so much that you're not a Christian but you would say this morning that, boy, if the power of Christ is not working in moment by moment by moment, there's no way that we can do this and I know I’d be the first to confess when I stack my love up against this, it doesn’t always turn out so good. I think that's actually a good place to be. It's a place that's ripe for repentance. It's a place that's ripe for dependence.

In preparation for the characteristics of not rejoicing in unrighteousness but rejoicing in the truth, I’d like you to turn in your Bibles to Exodus 32. That is on page 65 of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you. By way of context, God has delivered his people from the land of Egypt. They have seen God's works and plagues and they have been released from the land and now they have gone out and the Lord has made a covenant with them and in the preamble of that covenant he says these words. They are important, especially for what we're going to read in just a minute. “I am the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt out of the house of slavery.” So the beginning of the covenant document between God and his people is “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt out of the house of slavery.” He has now led them through Moses, to Mount Sinai and as requested, Moses' presence at the top of the mountain for God to give him some particular instructions. While he was gone, Exodus 32 happens.

Verse 1, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, 'Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.'” You need to think right here, “Whoa! Stop! Halt! Bad idea! Really bad idea! Aaron needs to put the cabosh on this like right now.”

But verse 2, “Aaron said to them, 'Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.'” Where did they get this gold? Where did they get it? The Egyptians. Hang onto that thought.

Verse 3, “Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf.” He did what? Just pay attention to that for just a second. He fashioned it with a graving tool into a molten calf. After this “they said, 'This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.'” That makes my Top Ten List for the stupidest thing any human being has ever said. Really? Really? Are you serious? What is the calf made of? Gold which they got from the Egyptians and now they're saying that that is what delivered them from the Egyptians so the gold was dying to leave. Is that really what they're arguing for? The Egyptian gold was so desperate to get out of there that they, voila, turned it into a calf. Unbelievable.

Verse 5, “Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, 'Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.' So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” Utterly evil. Absolute evil across the board here.

Verse 7, God begins to speak and gives his evaluation, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, 'Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”' The LORD said to Moses, 'I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.'” I want you to notice as we go through the rest of this, God has made his evaluation. Everything in which they have just now done is characterized by evil or unrighteousness.

Notice what Moses' response to that is and we're going to compare how does Moses respond to this set of actions and how does Aaron respond to this set of actions. Verse 11, “Then Moses entreated the LORD his God, and said, 'O LORD, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, “With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth”? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.”' So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.” Amazing, Moses is interceding for them.

Verse 15, “Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. The tablets were God's work, and the writing was God's writing engraved on the tablets. Now when Joshua heard the sound of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, 'There is a sound of war in the camp.' But he said, 'It is not the sound of the cry of triumph, Nor is it the sound of the cry of defeat; But the sound of singing I hear.' It came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses' anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it.” I guess his evaluation of it, huh?

Verse 21, “Then Moses said to Aaron, 'What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?' Aaron said, 'Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil.” It's bad when you're confessing that already, huh?

Verse 23, “For they said to me, 'Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. I said to them, “Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.” So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.'” Right, total lie. Go back to verse 4, right? Total lie “where he fashioned it with a graving tool” the text tells us.

Verse 25, “Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control - for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies - then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, 'Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!' And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. He said to them, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, “Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.”' So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, 'Dedicate yourselves today to the LORD - for every man has been against his son and against his brother - in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.' On the next day Moses said to the people, 'You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to the LORD, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.' Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, 'Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin - and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!' The LORD said to Moses, 'Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. But go now, lead the people where I told you. Behold, My angel shall go before you; nevertheless in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin.' Then the LORD smote the people, because of what they did with the calf which Aaron had made.”

Here's my question, it's the key question for this morning: who loved the people? Who loved the people? Was it Aaron who gave them exactly what they wanted? “They wanted me to make a god for themselves so that's exactly what I did. Didn't I love them?” Or was it Moses who in the midst of the unrighteousness, begs for their repentance? Who in the midst of their unrighteousness calls out their sin? Who in the midst of their unrighteousness goes before the Lord to make atonement for them? Who is the one who really loved? Was it Aaron or was it Moses?

With that in mind, I’d like us now to turn to 1 Corinthians 13. That is on page 137 of the back section of the Bible. 1 Corinthians 13. After explaining in verses 1-3 the significance of love, the necessity of love for all of life in ministry, he then describes what love is. Verse 4, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,” and now for the section we need to cover, “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” You see, Aaron had not only approved of what the people did, he actually called a feast for it, “Hey, let's have a party.” Moses instead mourns. Moses instead calls for the people to return to God and it is that description that helps us understand what it really looks like to not rejoice in unrighteousness but to rejoice in the truth.

I. Love Does Not Rejoice in Evil

I'd first like us to consider that love does not rejoice in evil. This is our final “not” characteristic of love. It was: not jealous, not bragging, not proud, not rude, not selfish, not easily provoked, not a record-keeper of wrongs and now it does not rejoice in evil. Let's put a definition to that: love finds no pleasure either in doing wrong or in supporting what is wrong. Love finds not pleasure either in doing wrong or in supporting what is wrong and I’m going to suggest four ways that we can think about that particular definition and bring about some application. I'm certain there are more but here are the four I want us to think about: 1. Love is not excited about evil itself. There are some things in our world that simply are not good, they are not righteous, they are evil and characterized by evil and God when he was speaking to Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

There are a lot of things in this world that are evil and that are wrong and that are unrighteous. At a global level, love is not excited about the sinking of the ship in South Korea that killed hundreds of children or the kidnapping of a couple of hundred school-aged girls with threats of selling them as slaves around the world. We can think about it nationally: love is not excited about the reality that more children are killed by planned abortion than all other causes of death combined; we do not have to rejoice about the fact that the most likely moment of your execution is before you were ever born. Love is not excited about the fact that our country continues to find ways to push the Lord and his word out of society. Love is not excited about the evil that surrounds us each and every day. I have the privilege of coming to work with a group of people who know Christ and seek to live for him on a daily basis but I understand and we understand that not everybody has that situation. Not everybody has that. In fact, when I greet my police officer friends around church, I often ask, “Well, how's the bad buy business?” And their response is, “Well, business is booming.” That's a business we wish weren't booming. Their job is to deal with evil every single day.

My very first job that I had, I worked on a landscape crew and I realize not all of them are like this but this was the one I was on. I was riding in a truck with two really big dudes with tattoos before they were cool. They were smoking a joint talking about the party and then explaining to us about their old lady. Now, I have never heard that phrase before, their old lady, but after a while, I actually got the context that they were talking about their wives. That was their old lady. On top of that, their total vocabulary consisted of about 30 words, 15 of them were pronouns and the other 15 were the most common cuss words in the English language. I realize that some of you work in environments just like that and there are others who, your work is a little more sophisticated than that. Your co-workers talk about the weekend escapades at the bars or with others and they talk about it as if it were a wonderful experience. Love does not rejoice in any of that.

We have a computer under the constant influence of evil. I was looking up the weather one day on WLFI and up came a little ad that said something about the ten good girls who went crazy. Do you know what? I didn't ask for that to pop up. If I wanted to go and find trash on the internet, I could find it plenty, thank you very much but it invades our space, doesn't it? It comes to us. We don't have to go and find it, it will find us. Love does not rejoice in any of that.

Or when someone speaks about getting revenge, maybe even a child says that. Do we rejoice in that? Do we say, “Well, you know, that's pretty funny what happened.” Do we congratulate someone for their foolishness or do we say something like, “Well, that moron had it coming to him anyway.” On tv there are some movies, there is some entertainment that frankly is just plain evil. It's just unrighteous. There isn't one shade of benefit to it, it's unrighteous. Love doesn't rejoice in any of that.

We cannot avoid evil but we can view it as unrighteous and not rejoice in it. Love is also not excited about wanting others to sin. Love is not excited about wanting others to sin. That may seem fairly obvious but notice the warning that we get in 1 Peter 4, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you.” In other words what the text says is that if you're a Christian, the time for sin is over. It's been long enough; you've participated in it long enough so now it's time for a new plan. But here's what happens. That doesn't mean that all of our relationships are over and so people often want to encourage us to do something that's wrong. They talk about how fun it will be; they will talk about how enjoyable it will be. That is a person who does not love you. Regardless of what words come out of their mouth, if they find some sense of rejoicing in wanting you to sin, they do not love you. They may say they do but they do not love you.

In John MacArthur's sermon on this passage, he tells a story of a couple who are not getting along and so apparently he had been working with them at some level and one of them actually said these words, “I wish my spouse would commit adultery so that way I can get a biblical divorce.” Can you imagine that? What kind of twisted thinking is that? Where here's what I want, I want my spouse to mess up so bad, to sin so bad, that everybody around them will say, “Yup, that's right. Now you are free to divorce.” That's not love. Love would want repentance and restoration, not further sin and further engrossment into sin. Biblical love, the love of Jesus, does not want others to sin and so if someone is encouraging you in any way, shape or form to sin then you have to come to the unfortunate conclusion that they simply do not love you.

The example in Exodus was a key illustration of that. Here was Aaron and what Aaron does is he gives the people exactly what they've asked for, exactly what they want and then what he says is, “Hey, let's have a party over it. Let's sacrifice to it.” He perpetuated their sin and who paid the price? Did you hear it as I read the text? First of all, they were judged, the first piece of judgment came from the hand of the Levites where 3,000 people that day died. Then, on top of that, God explained that he would hold those personally responsible for the mess that was created. That's not loving, to want someone to sin and then face the judgment of God. Moses, on the other hand, is begging for their repentance. He's begging for God to intercede. He is interceding so much so that he puts his own life on the line. It's because Moses loved the people, Aaron didn't and it's simply not loving to want someone to sin so they can face the judgment of God.

Third, love does not spread sin. Love does not spread sin. Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred serves up strife but love covers all transgressions.” The passage in Proverbs is not necessarily saying that love ignores sin, in fact, the Hebrew word is a common one in Scripture used 12 times in Proverbs alone and in each case it refers to covering something, hiding something, not letting something get out into the open. In Proverbs 11:13, it says, “He who goes about as a tale bearer reveals secrets but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.” He hides it; he protects it. “He who conceals a transgression seeks love but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.” Again, the picture of hiding. “He who conceals his transgression,” hides it, “will not prosper but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”

This can have a couple of different faces to it. One of them is the face of gossip where what we do is we share stories about other people that either are not true, they don't even exist, they're not even factual, or what we do is we talk about the things that were evil, that were bad, that were unrighteous. Love doesn't do that. Love doesn't rejoice in evil. The fact of the matter is this: we all have enough dirty laundry. There's not a person here who can't say that, in fact, many times when I’m counseling people, just reminding them, look, we all have enough dirty laundry that if we just look at it, focus on it, keep smelling it, hang it all over our house, then it's going to continue to stink and it's going to continue to be rough. Because we all have it, you can find it, it's not hard. But love doesn't rejoice in that. It doesn't like hanging out there. It doesn't like perpetuating that. Yet all too often, that's exactly what's shared.

A couple of weeks ago, I really wasn't confronted with the significance of bragging until I really thought about that you/me mentality and I know that resonated with some because the very next day, on Monday, they didn't say a word to me, they just went like this...didn't say a word, we just got the point because there's you and then there's me. I would like to suggest that we need that same level of reaction to the matter of gossip. We just need it. We need it at the same level of reaction to gossip. Children talk about their teachers or their classmates and they're not talking about how wonderful they are, they're talking about how bad they are. We talk about our co-workers. Sometimes people talk about their spouse. Sometimes people talk about their leaders. Sometimes we even talk about the cash register person who just can't seem to get the math right. So, what do we do? Our trip to the store is defined by the person who held up the line or the person who just couldn't get it figured out. Friends, gossip perpetuates all sorts of things. We need to see it as unrighteous, as evil and get away from it as far as possible.

This application also has another expression. There are times when people talk about their past sin with a sense of pride or nostalgia. They'll recount certain events in their history and talk about them even though they're evil as some of the greatest moments of their life. That is not love because love doesn't rejoice in that. It doesn't rejoice in evil, whether that evil is done by someone else and we gossip about it or whether it is done by us and we talk about it as if it was some wonderful thing that happened. The truth of the matter is, our past should make us very thankful for the grace of Christ so that those events could be covered by the one who gave his life for us. They should no longer be viewed as great moments in life but part of the reason that Jesus died.

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, it also plays out in this: love does not participate in sin. Maybe that's the most obvious but I want you to see how this plays out at least in some circumstances. In Galatians 2, we find a very interesting moment, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” This is what Paul says, “For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.” Can you imagine that? Just put yourself in this scene for a moment because that's exactly what Paul does. Put yourself in the scene: here they were over a period of time, Peter, that's another name for Cephas, Peter was enjoying, fellowshiping, having meals wit the Gentiles Christians and then a group comes from Jerusalem and they're the Jews. So everybody knows, racism in the Bible isn't typically over skin color, it's over who your daddy was and if you didn't have the right daddy, then we don't want to hang out with you. So, here's what happens: James and his crew shows up and now Peter goes away because now he wants to hang out with his people because these are his people. Notice what happens, “The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel,” in other words, “I don't rejoice in unrighteousness, I rejoice in the truth. Because of that, I said to Cephas in the presence of all,” can you imagine that moment? Here you are in that moment being called out in front of everybody. “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Everybody got the point. “Dude, you're being a hypocrite right here, right now and I’m calling it out because I do not rejoice in unrighteousness.” Peter pulls an Aaron: I'm going to join them in their sin. Paul pulls a Moses: he has no interest in that being perpetuated.

There are times when, frankly, we are prone to participate in the sin of someone else. People laugh at crass jokes. When you are, you're not being loving to your co-workers because you're participating in their sin. While I realize this point has come up on a number of occasions, it needs to come up again here: in 1 Corinthians 5 when they were refusing to deal with a person who was in sin in their context and refusing to repent of their sin, they had to deal with it in a public fashion because it was a public issue. I wish it weren't the case that we had to do that but that is what love does because love refuses, absolutely refuses to rejoice in unrighteousness. It will not, it cannot rejoice in unrighteousness so there isn't anything that that is going to be valued when it comes to evil even if that means things get hard or awkward. You know, we've had in the past several church family nights to deal with a matter of discipline and it is hard and it is awkward. How do you relate to a disciplined person? Because it's like, look, we're like not okay. We're here but we're not okay because you haven't repented yet and until that time comes, we're still not okay. It's weird. It's awkward. But why did we do it? Because love refuses, absolutely refuses to rejoice in evil and unrighteousness. Instead, it rejoices in the truth, it rejoices in repentance, it rejoices in restoration, it rejoices in reconciliation, it rejoices over things that are of good biblical value.

II. Love Rejoices in the Truth

That brings us to the positive side thankfully and that is here is what love does do. It rejoices in the truth. We've been living in the world of love is not for quite some time and now we get to focus on something that it is. It rejoices in the truth and while, I suppose, that discovering 2+2 is fairly significant in some people's lives, especially when it refers to what is happening in your retirement account, that is not particularly the focus of this text. As we saw in Galatians, it was the truth associated with the gospel, with the word. So, let's put a definition to that: love finds joy in living according to the truth and supporting all that is true. It finds joy in living according to the truth and supporting the things that are true. I'm going to suggest a few ways in which this can be applied.

First of all, love invests time into the truth. It invests time into the truth. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We need to have a desire for the word. A desire for it because there is truth there and it helps us to recognize other elements of things that would be true because it is consistent with the truth. How are we able to discern truth if it's not run through the grid of Scripture? We need to put our focus, our time, our effort into that. The Psalmist wrote, “How blessed is the man who doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked nor stand in the path of sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” In other words, he doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness but “his delight is the law of the Lord and in his law meditates day and night.” In other words, he rejoices in the truth.

Love also spends its time talking about the things that are good. It spends time talking about the things that are good. I think we would be benefited if we spent our time talking about all the amazing ways in which God works in people's lives and all of the things that he gives. I'll be the first to say that I need to do this more often with everyone. Last month when I was preaching, I kind of made a joke, I was making fun of myself about the fact that I was jealous of Pastor Aucoin's sermon on not being jealous. Well, no doubt I was making fun of myself on that but at the same time, I wanted to say what a great job he did on his message. I need to do that more. Tonight, as I mentioned, we're going to celebrate the ministry of Bob and Joan L. They have been to the hospital on countless situations and, you know, when Joan walks in the room, especially Joan walks in the room, it just lightens everything up. Everybody is going to be called “Hon” probably 14 times. She's the only person on planet earth who calls me “Hon,” and probably the only one I’d like it to be. She's just sweet, right? Just sweet, precious. And Bob and Joan have invested their lives in so many ways around here over the last 15-20 years. Amazing ministry that they have and tonight we have the chance to celebrate that and that's what love does, it rejoices in the truth. I mentioned that today was Titus and Kelly's last Sunday here, at least for the time being anyway. There are things to celebrate with them, right? Their ministry to us has been pleasurable, enjoyable, helpful.

We want to celebrate that so we want to be here tonight because we rejoice in things that are true but what if we spent the vast majority of our time talking about all the stuff that's good? Even in the church, to think about senior living, is that crazy or what? It's neat that there are some individuals who have, by God's grace, the financial resources to care for themselves all throughout their lives but it's also neat and exciting to see when there's an opportunity for those who may not have had that same opportunity in their lifetime, that there's a place for them where they can be cared for, where they can enjoy the final years of their time on earth in a place where their life would be meaningful and significant and full of friendships and relationships. What about the CDC, isn't that crazy? Isn't crazy that we get to be a part of neighborhood revitalization? Or what about this: when is the last time you just thanked the Lord for Pastor Viars and all the stuff that he does? I mean, he works like crazy and his ability to get things done in a week is absolutely amazing. When did you just thank God for that? Man alive, that is a lot of stuff. What if we never had roast preacher for lunch on Sunday and instead just thought about what were the things that we could glean from that that would be valuable or helpful? That about be a picture of biblical love.

Love is also excited to share the works of God. After all, there are many of them. Maybe we would learn to focus on them if we celebrated every act of kindness, if we celebrated every moment of forgiveness, if we celebrated when people told the truth, if we celebrated when God's grace appeared in order to help us in the midst of a particularly challenging situation. Maybe if we spent the vast majority of our time talking about what was right, then we would be fired up about the truth and we would be fired up to live about the truth. You see, love is excited, it rejoices when God works.

Last, love is thrilled when another person succeeds. It's thrilled when another person succeeds and I realize I picked a few illustrations here that are going to be a challenge for some but I hope helpful. Sometimes it can be hard to celebrate a marriage when you want to be married. It can be hard to celebrate a pregnancy when you want to be pregnant. It can be hard to celebrate a job placement when you want a particular job. It can be hard to celebrate a success when you want to be successful. Yet, that's exactly what love does because love rejoices in all that is true, in all that is good.

So, let's kind of wrap this up. What do we do about what we've wrestled with this morning? Some of us may need to recognize our willingness to rejoice with evil and the fact that that is actually inconsistent with biblical love. Maybe there have been some times where we have been very tolerant of evil and rejoiced in it and we need to recognize that. Then we need to repent for a heart that found joy in evil rather than in the truth or our heart was clinging to something that was evil when it should have been clinging to something that was true. Remember, in the midst of that that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. He stands ready to forgive you. Then on the final point, to apply the heart of excitement when truth wins. Anytime that truth wins, we're going to be excited, we're going to rejoice in truth because love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.

Let's stand together for prayer.

Father, we want to thank you for the truth of your word. Thank you so much for the privilege of having a picture of what biblical love really looks like. Lord, I pray that you would help us to not rejoice in unrighteousness where we refuse to rejoice in things that are evil, we refuse to participate in things that are evil, we refuse to perpetuate things that are evil and instead, what we would do is we would rejoice in the truth, we would rejoice in the things that are good, we would talk about the things that you are doing, we would celebrate the successes of others and we would value the things that you believe are true. We ask, Lord, that you would help us. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.