Everyone wants love! Love is the root of all that is good and true. Love is patient, kind, doesn’t envy or boast, isn’t arrogant or rude, doesn’t insist on it’s own way, isn’t irritable or resentful. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. You could write a lifetime of books expounding on it and still not fully comprehend it. And then there’s a certain aspect of love revealed right in the middle of 1 Corinthians chapter 13 that always seems to get tucked away and overlooked – squashed between the warm fuzzy parts.
“[Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” 1Corinthians 13:6 ESV
More Than A Warm Fuzzy
Love rejoices with the truth. But true love does not rejoice at wrongdoing. Many of us have been taught a very one-sided, humanistic view of love that really isn’t Biblical or healthy. For instance, I have heard people say, “we just have to love people where they are.” While there is a lot of truth in that, the intention behind that statement too often means, “pretend everything is perfectly fine the way they are so that we don’t rock their boat.” In other words, confronting the reality of their life seems mean and unloving. Loving people where they are is good in itself, but it all goes bad when we pervert what that means because we’re missing this key characteristics of love in our own lives: love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but it does rejoice with the truth.
God exemplifies true love. It is who He is. Amos 3:3 teaches that two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. God will not walk in step with you; you must walk in step with Him. The only way to do so is in spirit and in truth, which ultimately means you must face His conviction. Even His conviction is true love, which extends into correcting us with discipline when we are not in agreement with Him. God defines love, and since He cannot rejoice in wrongdoing, true love cannot either. It can only rejoice with truth.
“If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” Proverbs 1:23 ESV
The Road of Reproof
God loves you, and He wants to speak personally to you. In order to do that, to bring you to that place, He reproves (corrects, convicts, scolds) you because He cannot rejoice at wrongdoing. Therefore, reproof is part of love. Now this doesn’t mean you should go around yelling at and scolding everyone that isn’t living the way you think they should. It means something much more personal and intimate than that. It’s meant for you. You will have to walk the road of reproof to get to the table of blessing. There is no other way of approaching it.
“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24 ESV
“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6 ESV
He who loves, is diligent (steady, earnest) to discipline. I imagine some of you are saying, “Yeah, true. But you should only judge and discipline your own children.” It is true that each of us has our own unique sphere of authority, but my purpose in this article is not to focus on that issue. My intent is to unfold the aspect of love revealed in 1 Corinthians 13:6. Before going any further, it would be beneficial to note that regardless of who has the right to discipline, when the person on the other end receives it well, the Bible calls them wise.
“Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it. But I pray constantly against the wicked and their deeds.” Psalm 141:5 (NLT)
“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” Proverbs 15:31-32 ESV
The Way of Life
“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,” Proverbs 6:23 ESV
When the Bible says that discipline is the way of life, it literally means that it is the road leading to life. The Hebrew word in this scripture translated as, “way”, literally means road, distance, journey, manner, habit, or direction (Strong’s, H1870). Yet, many of us haven’t understood this part of the journey, this aspect of love called “reproof” and “discipline.” We have had so many bad examples in our own lives which we naturally see through like a window when we try to view God and understand what He means by this.
Many of us associate discipline with anger and failure, but that’s not at all the way God intends it. We have to grow beyond our experience-based view so that we can see the truth of it more clearly and, in turn, demonstrate a better example ourselves. Until we learn to embrace discipline, we tend to react in a negative way toward God and others because they cause us to confront our own error or wrongdoing. We often don’t want to listen to reproof because it makes us feel like a failure, ashamed, or even angry. Some may even think that it is a sign of anger toward us.
However, it is purely love when God confronts our error and wrongdoing. He loves us enough to confront those things that are standing between us. He desires to bring us past those barriers and into a place where there is nothing to hinder us from receiving His blessing. All of the warm fuzzy parts are waiting for us, but God disciplines us to remove issues in our lives that are preventing us from having what He is already holding out with an open hand.
“Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.” Pro 13:18 ESV
“A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” Proverbs 17:10 ESV
You can’t make yourself qualified to go straight to all the blessing without encountering reproof. You must surrender to Him, both to His blessing and reproof – to His love. It’s His way or no way at all. It is the way of life. There is no instant lottery ticket method for getting only the warm fuzzy parts without walking the path of discipline.
So love doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing, and this is because God defines love. Yet there are some who embrace the reproof of God, but have not learned to embrace the blessing of His love. They have not understood that love also rejoices with truth. God delights in truth from our deepest inward parts.
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Psalm 51:6 ESV
So then, there are two sides to the same coin. If you separate them you are wrong. You would have to destroy the coin in order to separate the two sides, and it would be useless and ineffective to accomplish it’s purpose. It is not any different with love. Without both sides of love, it is limited from accomplishing what it is intended to accomplish. Love has purpose!
We love it when we’re walking in truth and God’s rejoicing with us. But we tend to hate the other side of the coin because we haven’t understood that it is also love. If we are going to proceed to maturity we have to come to the point where we love the correction and discipline of the Lord. We must understand that it is part of His love for us. God disciplines us because He delights in us!
Give To God What Is God’s
Here’s what it comes down to: as you mature in the Lord you should reach a point where you can honestly embrace His discipline. Not in a sadistic sense, but from a place of understanding and a desire to grow in intimacy with him. You see clearly that He reproves you because He desperately loves you and wants you close.
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1 ESV
“He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.” Proverbs 29:1 ESV
If we only accept one side of the coin, we’ll end up dysfunctional and God’s love will not be able to fully affect us because we are not allowing Him to fully love us. Be thankful for the reproof of the Lord. Every time you embrace it you will change, grow, mature, and overcome the very things that you could not on your own. He is setting a table of blessing for you and filling you with good things. He is showering you with praise as He rejoices over you and the truth that flows from your heart. Let Him fully love you!
Jeremy Caris is the founder and president of Caris Ministries. Since he is called as a prophet and gifted as a teacher, much of his focus involves equipping believers to hear, know, and follow God in their own daily experience. He teaches the foundational truth of the Word with simple clarity, while revealing deep things of the spirit in practical ways. He has the unique ability to demystify the supernatural side of real relationship with a living God and make it an embraceable and accessible reality for all believers. Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Mandy Caris, for twenty years, and is the proud father of two boys.