It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. (ESV)
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (NIV)
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (KJV)
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; (NASB)
How does this play itself out in the life of a mother (or, really, any parent)?
Not Delighting in Our Child’s Failures
If we are truly acting in a loving way, we don’t gloat at opportunities to lecture or rebuke our children about their wrongdoing. If admonition and teaching is necessary, so be it, but we grieve the wrong done. There are times when we want to jump onto a misbehaving child with the “aha” eagerness to shame them for their sin, but this does not reflect the kind of love described in this chapter.
Love is empathetic. The subtle joy/grief contrast in this verse communicates empathy. True love is empathetic, that is, it feels with the object of its love. If our child is grieving, we grieve with them. If our child is joyful, we rejoice with them. We celebrate the good, and seek to abate the bad.
In another sense, this looks like a coach or personal trainer on the sidelines, rooting and cheering for the fruits of righteousness and truth as they come forth from our children’s lives, and grieving when unrighteousness and its consequences are present.
Love rejoices in the truth in our children’s lives.
Love rejoices. The emphasis of the verse is upon rejoicing, or joy. Joy is mentioned twice — once in the negative and once in the positive. The bottom line is this: love rejoices. Joy ought not be present in the face of unrighteousness, but at all other times — the environment of truth in which we live as Christians — there is joy.
Sometimes the truth is not our desired outcome, but love rejoices.
Similar to a previous discussion, sometimes the truth is that we are wrong or that we didn’t have facts correct at first. Rather than insisting on our own way, we can allow love and truth to trump our desires to feel validated or have the final word.
Stretching this application a little further, sometimes the truth is also that our child has a certain God-given personality that is unlike our own or is gifted in an area that we are unfamiliar with. Instead of despising them for these things, we can ask God for this genuine, deeply rooted love to rejoice in what God is doing in their lives.
Rejoicing Love Can Be Observed
Not only is this type of love demonstrated to our families in how respond to them, but it is demonstrated as we live out love toward others outside of our family. At a certain point, it becomes more and more difficult to hide our own shortcomings from our children. Unfortunately, our children are often the first to spot hypocrisy or ingenuity.
From the negative perspective, it is highly likely that our children will hear our conversations about others, and from our mouth proceeds what is in our heart. Is it in our heart to rejoice when a peer or friend slips up, falls into harmful patterns, or has hardship come into their lives. Do we say, “Ha! Definitely saw that coming!” or “Yeah, serves them right!” Or do we sorrow and ask ourselves how we can love these people in their difficult times.
On the contrary, and on the positive side, can we readily rejoice when truth is promoted in the others? Even when recognizing the truth in others may feel painful ourselves? Our children need to know what true love is and see it in action. Before we speak of others, can we first ask ourselves if hearing my words is showing my child(ren) how to love others?
When others rightfully receive what we have desired, Spirit-gifted love overcomes our own desires and allows us to rejoice with them, whether the truth of granted desires is for our children or mere acquaintances.
There are many other ways this portion of the passage could be applied to mothers, and the text is rather straightforward: Love rejoices in truth, not evil.
Others in this Series: