Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's Time to Grow Up! Part Eight

1 Corinthians 13 is basically a study on the selflessness of love. It is a challenge to me asking: What are my motives?

v. 6: "Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth"

In this verse, I am again reminded of Jonah and his calling to the Assyrians of Ninevah. Let me just preface this by saying that the following thoughts are just a portion of what this verse could be saying--it's just a thought tangent and not meant to be a complete summation.

We read in the book of Jonah how the prophet was sent to Ninevah to warn the people of God's coming wrath. Even though God knew that Assyria would invade his people, Israel, in just 50 years' time, he sent Jonah with a message of truth and salvation anyway. That's the God of grace we serve.

Although the Bible doesn't give a specific reason why Jonah first avoided going to Ninevah, we get the impression that he didn't think they were worth saving. He knew they were a wicked people and it's obvious he didn't have a heart for them. I wonder if he even rejoiced in their unrighteousness? If he didn't think they were deserving of God's grace, then it's likely he put himself above them in importance. He even went so far as to become angry with God after God honored their repentant hearts by sparing the city.

Lucky for Ninevah, and for us, God rejoices in truth. He loves to see his children step into a realization of his love and purpose for their lives. God spared this evil city--even knowing that some of these same people would take part in Israel's destruction just a generation later--because of their acceptance of his truth.

How can we apply this verse in a practical way? Have you ever taken a secret joy in the misfortune of another? Really? You don't think so, huh? What about...

*the "perfect" daughter of a friend who becomes pregnant outside of marriage
*the snobby co-worker who walks around unknowingly with her skirt tucked in the back of her nylons?
*the obvious weight gain in your ex's new girlfriend?
*your "know-it-all" brother, sister, friend who gets caught cheating or lying or stealing
*that celebrity whose dirty laundry is aired all over the media

Any time we take pleasure in the unfortunate circumstances or the consequences of sin in the life of another--even if we think they deserved it--we are rejoicing in unrighteousness.

To truly love not just our neighbor but our enemy as well, (Matt. 5:43-48) we must lead them to truth and rejoice in their discovery of it. Why should I be any more deserving of the truth than any other human being? Christ died for all of us and his promises are true for everyone.

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