Friday, January 14, 2022

Let Love Guide Us in the New Year: Love Is Never Happy with Wrongdoing but Is always Happy with the Truth

Honeysuckle symbolizes the bonds of love.

In his first letter to the Corinthians in his description of the nature of love that Christians have for others and one another, Paul emphasizes that disciples of Jesus do not delight in the misdeeds of others. They are never happy when others do wrong, and they do not gloat over their wickedness. They do not rejoice in injustice and wrongdoing. On the other hand, they do rejoice when truth succeeds after a lot of difficulty. They are always happy with the truth and rejoice in truthfulness, and they are glad when the truth prevails, when the real facts about a situation, event, or person are uncovered.

When I was reflecting on this particular verse from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, gloating over other people’s wickedness was the most noticeable in the various translations of the verse to which I gave careful thought. When we gloat, we feel or express great pleasure or satisfaction because of our own success or good luck, or someone else’s failure or bad luck. The Pharisee in the parable was gloating when he thanked God that he was righteous unlike the publican who was praying nearby, begging God’s forgiveness for his sins. Christians are prone to the same kind of gloating when they compare themselves to non-Christians. So are the adherents of one theological school of thought when they compare themselves to another theological school of thought. “We are right. They are wrong.” When they dwell on what they regard as the other school of thought’s mistaken views, they are gloating. Christians may gloat over other things beside doctrine. This too boils down to taking great pleasure or satisfaction in other people’s mistakes and failings.

Psychologists tell us that some individuals will stir up conflict between two or more persons and cause a break in their friendship or relationship in order to prove to themselves that other people show poor judgment or little intelligence, are easily-duped, and therefore deserve their contempt. Other people are inferior to themselves. Such a view of other people in which they are seen as stupid and undeserving of our liking and respect is not consistent with the nature of Christian love which Paul describes in his first letter to the Corinthians. Love does not look down on people nor does it focus on their faults and mistakes.

Just as some people collect anger stamps, these individuals collect what may be described as contempt stamps. They use them to justify disliking other people, showing them no respect, and treating them badly while at the same time feeling superior to them.

Paul also writes that disciples of Jesus do not feel or show great happiness about situations in which there is no fairness and justice, and which favor someone unfairly. Treating people equally or in a way that is right or reasonable, on the other hand, is consistent with his description of the nature of Christian love. Loving others and loving one another means treating others fairly and treating one another fairly. They also mean showing no favoritism or partiality.

In the same verse Paul emphasizes that truth and truthfulness, the quality of being honest and not telling any lies, are things that Christians who love others and one another greatly value. They are an expression of their love for other people and their love for their fellow Christians.

What can we learn from this particular verse?

Do not think or talk about other people’s faults and failures all of the time.

Look for the good in other people, and not focus on the bad.

Treat other people fairly.

Be honest and truthful.

Always seek to uncover the truth of a matter—what really happened.

Value the truth and assign no importance or worth to lies and half-truths, while they may be what we want to hear, are not true and are meant to deceive.

In writing this article I sensed that the Holy Spirit was using the writing of this article series to instruct me in how to better treat people. I hope that the article series helps you in the same way.

I must give credit to the Cambridge English Dictionary for the explanation of various words and phrases used in this article.

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