Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:6-7
If asked to define love, many of us would use words like joy, delight, and acceptance. Some might describe butterflies in the stomach, floating on air, or extreme happiness.
But when Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he talked more about what love does than about how it feels. And he also used an extreme qualifier: always.
He tells us that love protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. And he added that love always does these things. In other words, it is faithful. This is the kind of love found in the person of Jesus Christ — the kind we, too, can release as we abide in Him and allow His Spirit in us to lead out.
Paul also conveys what love does not do: delight in evil. As he shares this trait, he contrasts delighting in evil with rejoicing with the truth. No shades of gray here. My heart is pierced as I read this. I’m compelled to ask myself, “Do I rejoice with the truth?” And then the sobering reality: a step away from truth is a step towards evil.
A choice to rejoice in truth goes beyond knowing the truth, agreeing with the truth, and even supporting the truth. And Paul makes it clear: if I’m not all in for truth, I’m supporting evil.
The correlation between love and truth is clear. If we truly have love, we celebrate truth — we embrace it, refuse to distort or compromise it, and delight in it.
Real love refuses to just tell people what they want to hear, refuses to affirm their sin and celebrate dangerous behaviors. Instead, it shares real truth … and hates the sin, but always loves the sinner.
Real love is tenacious and faithful — always is the qualifier for each trait mentioned in verses 6-7. Love cannot be authentic and take off one day a week. It does not take a break from truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
How easy it is to love those who love us back, embrace our values, receive our counsel, agree with our positions, and respect our beliefs. But when we have a neighbor, a prodigal, a co-worker, or a friend who rejects the truth and exchanges it for a lie, our hearts are broken. It may be easier to withdraw than to engage. It may be less painful (and certainly more peaceful) to become emotionally and physically distant. The stress and tension of awkward conversations, of finding safe topics, of walking on proverbial egg shells, of discerning when to “turn the other cheek” and when to respond to sharp barbs and critical comments, is mentally and emotionally exhausting.
But love compels us to keep on … to keep praying, keep engaging, and keep loving.
If someone you love has stepped away from the light of truth, keep on loving. Ask God today to help you be faithful and steadfast in your love for this person, and to show you how to best demonstrate love that:
- Always protects — covers in prayer.
- Always trusts — believes God loves him or her more than you and will keep knocking on the door of his or her heart.
- Always hopes — as long as there is life, there is hope. Let’s rejoice in hope! (Romans 12:12)
- Always perseveres — keeps on loving the lost, misguided, or unlovable, remembering that you, too, were loved and redeemed by Jesus even when you were caught up in sin and far from the truth.