Defining What It Means to Rejoice with the Truth
In contrast to the description mentioned in the 1st part of I Corinthians 13:6, and instead of celebrating wrong, love celebrates the right. Love doesn’t get giddy about other’s sins, but it throws a “party of sorts” for the truth. It won’t rejoice when error is propagated, but loves the good in people and talks of that. It loves to see truth triumph in ordinary people.
There is a dangerous infatuation in some Christian circles with studying error. Yes, there is a need for some to help us identify the sheep from the wolves, but not at the expense of honoring the sheep.
Another example in Christianity that applies to this description is ecumenism. Ecumenism is a movement that promotes Christian unity (a biblical virtue) but does so by pushing aside essential doctrines. To stand next to another person for a religious or moral cause when that person does not embrace the biblical Gospel or teaches an errant one is to confuse the importance of truth. John warns us about such an occasion – “10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (II John 10-11). The concern is that by celebrating or tolerating error, you allow it, promote it, are apathetic about it and aren’t promoting truth. A loving person doesn’t sanction sin; he sanctions righteous obedience.
Rejoicing at truth is not demonstrated by pushing it aside for other agendas. It is a celebration and promotion of it. A loving person revels at the sounding of truth. The word “Did you hear’ should be followed with some great and encouraging news and not the latest and craziest news of a world gone awry. The person who only rejoices at wrongdoing can’t be the person who only rejoices at the truth.
A Biblical Example of NOT Rejoicing at the Truth
Jonah is a good example of someone who missed out on putting this into practice. When commanded by God to go to Nineveh and represent him, Jonah didn’t rejoice for the opportunity (Jonah 1). In fact, even after he went to preach a simple message of repentance and the entire city was converted, Jonah wasn’t celebrating the new conversions. He wasn’t walking around town answering all their questions about God and hooking them up with religious mentors to bring them along in their new found faith. He was outside the city moaning and complaining about this salvific work of God –
“… 2 O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jon 4:2-3).
A Biblical Example of Rejoicing With the Truth
Positively, Jesus’ baptism demonstrates celebrating the truth. When the heaven’s opened up at the time for John the Baptist to baptize Jesus in the Jordan River, the Father said,
“16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’” (Matt 3:16-17).
That is the Father rejoicing in the truth that the Son is obedient. That is rejoicing in the truth. Love rejoices with the truth; it doesn’t celebrating wrongdoing.