“Attributes of Love” Series Introduction: 1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love”, and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 lists the attributes of love. So in this series, we’re going to discuss each of the attributes in those verses, one by one, to learn more about the nature of God.
It is very interesting to that love (and therefore God) “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth”. It sets up “truth” as being counter to “wrongdoing”. At first that didn’t make sense to me. Wouldn’t the opposite of “wrongdoing” be “rightdoing”? Wouldn’t it make sense then that God would rejoice in our good behavior? But every translation I looked up had the same word – truth. As I thought about it more, I realized that wrongdoing almost always comes out of a place of wrong thinking – of thinking something that is not the truth. Why do people steal? Because they wrongly believe that God will not provide for their needs. Why do people cheat on a spouse? Because they wrongly believe that the empty space in their heart can be filled by human love. If we really understood and internalized the truth – the truth about all of it, about how much God loves us and what He wants for us – then we would find it a lot easier to follow Him, to obey Him, and to avoid wrongdoing. That’s why truth is set up in opposition to wrongdoing here.
Jesus taught this same principle, that the closer you grow to Him, the more you understand truth, and the easier it is for you to act in obedience with God’s will.
John 8:31-32 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
In the verses after that, He explains that “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin”, and that truth is what sets us free from sin. In fact, truth is the very thing that gets us into Heaven. When Jesus was talking about preparing a place for us, and Thomas asked how they would know how to get there, Jesus replied:
John 14:6-7 …“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
But it isn’t just in the New Testament that we find this concept. The Psalms have it covered too:
Psalm 25:5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Psalm 119:160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
But truth isn’t just a thought exercise. Notice that Jesus says He is the truth, and that the Psalmist asks God to lead them in the truth. Then there’s this verse:
1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Truth is grouped in with our deeds, our actions, not with “word or talk”. Truth is more than “having the facts”. A fact is a singular thing, a flat object, a dead piece of information. we can know a fact about someone or something without really knowing or understanding that someone or something. But truth is dimensional and all encompassing – to truly know someone or something is to understand all the facets and nuances. Truth is conveyed by more than just our words about a thing; but by our actions influenced by that truth.
Truth can be obtained by growing closer to God. Growing in truth leads toward obedience and away from wrongdoing. Our understanding of truth is displayed by our actions, but it is the truth itself that is antithetical to wrongdoing. Whew! That was a tough one. But now it makes a whole lot more sense to say that “God rejoices in truth” – because truth means that we know Him and are obedient to Him.