Love Does Not Delight in Evil but Rejoices with the Truth or: The Strength of Being Weak
(1 Corinthians 13:6; NIV)
The one who speaks the truth needs a fast horse.
Truth is powerful. Truth that has come out can cause defendants to go free and whole governments to go down. Truth is also tricky. It is hard to find. Even though you can sometimes stumble upon it, usually you have to invest some sweat and effort if you really want to know. Truth looks differently depending on the angle from which you look upon it, which is why it is hard to determine who is right in an argument and why we need grace and patience with one another and a desire to understand the other person’s perspective if we want to reach a consensus. Truth is not necessarily comfortable either. It can be seriously unpleasant both to hear it and to speak it. No wonder that Jesus, who is THE truth (John 14:6) has become a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, as it says in 1 Peter 4:8. But despite of all those difficulties, we are called to rejoice whenever the truth wins out (NLT).
Easy-peasy you might think. Aren’t we all happy when corrupt dignitaries are found out and deposed of their office, when pedophilia rings are exposed, and someone’s good name gets restored? But how about when the truth about myself becomes evident, when a friend sees right through me and calls me on something or God puts His finger on something that is not quite right in my attitude or character? How much rejoicing is going on then? Jesus’ promise to us is that we will know the truth, if we remain faithful to his teachings and the truth will set us free (John 8:31-32). As Joyce Meyer points out, it is the truth about us that will set us free.
Knowing the truth about ourselves can be seriously, I mean seriously uncomfortable.
Firstly, there is this feeling of being exposed, to be seen for what we really are and with it comes the fear of being rejected, of not being good enough, of not being worthy of connection, be it with God or with other people. And most logically, our initial instinct is to hide what is really going on, to cover up the vulnerability by denying it, running away or shooting the messenger. Last of which must have happened often enough in China to inspire the introductory proverb. Still, God promises that exactly that naked truth of who we are and more importantly of who Jesus is and who we really are in Christ will set us truly free. Buy the truth and do not sell it, it says in Proverbs 23:23 (NIV). Truth costs us something and the question is, am I willing to pay the price or do I rather decide to sell my key to freedom in exchange for surface peace and bogus respectability? We all fall short of the glory we should have and none of us is without sin. We are all in the same boat with this and there is even the promise that we will get healed if we just confess our sins to one another (James 5:16). We are imperfect and yet God accepts us as we are. Nothing can ever separate us from His love. Even if people reject us God’s love for us will never run out, the deep knowledge of which made it possible for Jesus to be scorned by people and love them nevertheless, and the more we know and are safe in God’s love the more it is possible for us to speak the truth and hear the truth and not go down in the spiral of self-hatred and resentment of the other. Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy, Proverbs 27:6 says (NLT). Are we willing to give as well as receive those wounds? I need to ask myself: Who are the people who can speak into my life? Who are the people I can be accountable to, the group of believers where we confess our sins to one another? How willing am I to actively contribute to becoming a fellowship that is safe and loving? How willing am I to take the first step and make myself vulnerable, speak about my inadequacies, anxiety, and failure? The truth might be hard to take at times (or speak for that matter) but to be truthful and honest with one another will enable us to be a well-functioning and healthy body that displays the love of God.
We are all different and for some of us it might be easier to take correction than confront while for others it comes naturally to address issues whereas being confronted is harder to take. Either way we are to deal with the speck in our friend’s eye as long as we get rid of the log in our own eye first (Luke 6:41-42; NLT).
We need to check our motives before we confront. Are we subconsciously happy about the other person’s failure and thus actually “delight in evil”? Do we feel the need to address an issue to make the other understand that they are in the wrong and not us because we cannot find peace until they see that? Or do we have the other person’s best interest, their freedom as well as ours, in mind?
I know that it is necessary to address issues if I want to properly relate to someone but at the same time I am someone who dislikes confrontation with a passion. Something that helps me to confront nevertheless and to do it right is to first of all remind myself that this is the loving thing to do. And in order for the actual confrontation to be loving I need to make sure that I know that I have been made righteous, that I do not need the other person to see that my claim is justified. Secondly, if there is any hurt that I need to forgive I do this first. I do not want any hidden desire to cause pain to get in the way of a successful interaction. Thirdly, I take time and pray to make room for God to give me His heart for the other person. I want to make sure that my intention is to speak the truth in order to see the other be set free. And in this process I ask God if there is any truth about myself that I need to know and deal with first.
Mike Maeshiro, who is part of Bethel Church in Redding, California summarizes this in a great way when he says, “There’s a difference between saying something is wrong and treating someone like they are wrong. Love knows the difference.”
Father God, thank you that I may know the truth in your son Jesus Christ and that I can be assured that this truth will set me free. Reveal to me where I believe lies and am deceived about myself. Help me not to rejoice in evil but set my heart on knowing the truth and celebrating its victories. Give me the courage to address issues and the strength to be weak and invite correction. Help me to always have my brothers’ and sisters’ well-being and freedom in mind. Teach me how to love like you love me.