We’re all familiar with workarounds—those stop gap measures we employ when we don’t have the time, money, or opportunity to fix something correctly. What they sometimes lack in aesthetics they can make up for in functionality. For example, years ago the lock on my truck’s fuel door stopped working. I wasn’t concerned about the locking aspect but I also didn’t want the fuel door flapping as I went down the road. Rather than spend time and money replacing it, I just slapped a couple of magnetic strips on it and never looked back.
But for every success story, there are instances of less-than-success, aren’t there? And we can’t forget about the what-was-I-thinking episodes that end up on YouTube or Funniest Home Videos. The truth is, there are some things you just shouldn’t try to work around. I think this is exactly the context for Paul’s statement that, “Love does not rejoice in evil but delights in the truth.”
Love makes no attempt to work around the truth. It isn’t interested. It recognizes that embracing false, destructive ways in the name of love is not love at all. (Isn’t it interesting and informative that protesting such ways today earns you the title of hater?). The reality though is that when you rejoice in what the Scripture identifies as evil and destructive, whatever else you might be doing—you are not engaging in loving behavior.
Paul goes into Athens and is distressed by the idolatry he sees (Acts 17:16). He loves the idolater, but he hates the idolatry. He doesn’t shrug it off with a radiant smile, shrugging his shoulders and proclaiming, I’ve just got too much love in my heart to say that people who love idolatry shouldn’t be able to practice it. The next verse tells us he reasoned with people in the synagogue and the marketplace. Luke follows this with Paul’s powerful presentation to the Areopagus. No work-arounds for him!
But of course, there wouldn’t be because he learned this from his Master. When the woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus, He protects her in the way that love does until those who wanted to stone her have left. Then He gently but firmly confronts her and tells her to leave her life of sin.
He does this because He is full of grace and truth. That can be a challenge, can’t it? Most of us tend to be overbalanced toward one or the other. But grace and truth are simply the result of love rejoicing with the truth. For the world’s sake as well as our own, we need to major in living, sharing, and proclaiming truth as graciously as we can.
When it comes to love — no work-arounds for us!