Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (NIV)
Over the last few months, we have looked at a passage that tells us some of the many characteristics of love: it is patient and kind, it does not envy or boast, it is not proud or rude or self-seeking or easily angered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs and doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
And that’s not all. Verse 7-8a goes on to tell us that love always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres, and that it never fails.
We might look at this list and get discouraged. How on earth are we to exemplify all that? This is where a favourite verse of mine comes in.
But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. (James 3:14)
We prone to having more than just bitter envy and selfish ambition dwell in our hearts. Everything else that 1 Corinthians 13 says love is not and does not do is often found there too, and everything love is and does is so often noticeably absent. What does the verse tell us to do?
First, don’t boast about it (don’t delight in it).
Second, don’t deny the truth (be honest)!
We are not able to love with 1 Corinthian 13 love. It is not in us to do that. It is only when we acknowledge that fact to ourselves, to God and to others that we are able to start growing in love. If we don’t allow the divine gardener into our weed-ridden, rock-hard, nutrition-less hearts, how will the restoration begin? If we don’t admit to ourselves the state of our hearts, how can we cooperate with what God is doing? If we don’t let others know where we need help, how can they support us and encourage us and keep us accountable?
Love rejoices with the truth, because it is in truth that love can really grow.
Love comes from God. Tell God you need him and ask him to pour out his love on you. Love grows through our effort. Respond to the directions in his Word and the promptings of his Spirit. Love grows in community. Be honest with others and accept their honest input. Let’s not be discouraged but actively seek to grow in love.