Love Does Not Rejoice at Wrongdoing

The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.

Defining What It Means to Rejoice at Wrongdoing

The idea of rejoicing at wrongdoing can be manifested in a plethora of ways. It shows satisfaction with sin or allowing sin to happen and not feel any sorrow or frustration. You could say it is a form of apathy towards sin when you rejoice at it. D.A. Carson tells us that love,

“does not enjoy endless discussions about what is wrong with the churches and institutions we serve, and takes on such subjects when competing demands of righteousness require it. If there is any report of something right or truthful going on, love will quickly rejoice over it, … love will join with others in rejoicing over the truth. Love does not seek to make itself distinctive by tracking down and pointing out what is wrong; it gladly sinks its own identity to rejoice with others at what is right.”[1]

Celebrating sin is an affront to God. Isaiah reminds us, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isa 5:20). After we read God gives a wicked man over 3x to his own thinking, we read the ultimate act of wickedness: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Rom 1:32). When one rejoices of wrongdoing, he doesn’t do so out of ignorance but rebellion.

A loving person doesn’t hear of sin and then gossip of it or laugh about it or get pleasure out of hearing of it. Love isn’t giddy with another’s transgressions. Gossip can be a form of rejoicing in wrongdoing when you gloat over someone else’s shortcomings or defeats. When we rejoice over wrongdoing, no one is helped and love is not present.

Rejoicing at wrongdoing can be manifested in one’s entertaining or amusement of watching sin. Rejoicing at wrongdoing can be manifested in the pleasure of referring to pornography or others forms of sexual immortality. Rejoicing in wrongdoing can be engaging in any forms of abuse – sexual, emotional, verbal or physical.

A Biblical Example of Rejoicing at Wrongdoing

While I Corinthians 5 doesn’t go into great detail about the Corinthians thinking of this sexually immoral man among them, you wonder if they allowed it because they delighted in it. Their delight may not have been celebrating it in a party-like atmosphere, but tolerating it and not confronting any sin at any time is to allow for it.

A Biblical Example of One Who Does Not Rejoice at Wrongdoing

There are good examples in the Bible of people who didn’t rejoice at another’s wrongdoing. The example that comes to mind is Jesus. After He comes into Jerusalem on a donkey and watched parades of people welcome Him, He reflects on their true spiritual condition. He knew this city celebrating Him now would soon crucify Him. He knew the city welcoming Him with honor would be burned to the ground by Rome. Instead of celebrating the hypocrisy that was present, we read,

41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “’Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation’” (Luke 19:41-44).

Jesus wasn’t happy about wrongdoing. He was anything but giddy about this triumphant day of welcoming. He knew their true spiritual condition and was deeply saddened.

Final Thoughts

Is love impossible to demonstrate? On your own, in your own strength – yes! But with a faithful and loving God who enables us through the power of the Holy Spirit you can be all of these things and more. We serve a God who is love (I John 4:8) and showed us the culmination of all of these descriptions of love at the cross.

God doesn’t gain anything from us by saving us, but He does get to show us the depth of His love. He loves us by being patient with our sins. He loves us by showing kindness in sending His Son. He loves us by giving us a Savior who was not above being torture and crucified on our behalf. He loves us by giving us a Lord who hung on the cross until the very end – never showing a sign of hatred or unforgiveness to His persecutors. He loves us by offering eternal fellowship with Him through the belief in the death of His son and the commitment to follow after Him in obedience.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Rom 5:6-11).

Do you know this loving God? Have you embraced Him as your Lord? What does that love mean for you today?


[1] Showing the Spirit, pg. 63


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