In today’s post, I’m going to continue my study of love found in the Bible passage of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I want to focus on the verse, “Love does not rejoice in evil.”
I guess our first question is, what is evil? Let’s look at the Word of God.
20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23)
29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. (Romans 1:29-31)
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander,and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)
I think God makes it very clear what He calls evil (and we all know that whatever He calls, it is).
Author’s Note: I’ve defined some of the words, not because I think you don’t know what they are, but because I sometimes forget what they mean and I like to be absolutely sure of what God’s Word is saying to me
- Evil thoughts/desires
- Sexual immorality
- Greed (also idolatry)
- Malice (the intention or desire to do evil)
- Lewdness (being very sexual or lustful in an offensive way)
- Slander (making false and damaging statements about someone)
- Folly (lack of good sense; foolishness)
- Depravity (moral corruption; wickedness)
- Strife (angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues; conflict)
- Insolent (showing a rude and arrogant lack of respect)
- Boastful (showing excessive pride and self-satisfaction in one’s achievements, possessions, or abilities)
- Disobedient to parents
- No understanding (sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings; tolerant and forgiving/having insight or good judgment)
- No fidelity (faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support/sexual faithfulness to a spouse or partner)
- No love
- No mercy
- Impure (mixed with foreign matter; adulterated/morally wrong, especially in sexual matters)
- Filthy language (coarse language, swear words, inappropriate sexual references/jokes)
Now, when we look at this list altogether, we probably automatically think, “Well, that certainly doesn’t describe me.” I mean, this is a long list. We probably think that, as a Christian, we’re better than all that. And maybe some of us don’t think that. Maybe certain words on this list pop out at us. Honestly, every one of us could choose several words from this list to describe ourselves, at least at one time or another.
I’m not a pastor, but I do observe people, including myself, and I think it’s important that we truly know ourselves. If you don’t know your own weaknesses, you’ll never change. You have to be able to admit those weaknesses to God and allow Him to change you.
Let me give you an example. I look at this list and several things pop out at me: evil thoughts, greed, envy, slander (gossip), and anger. Now, I received salvation 24 years ago, so I’m not saying that those five words describe me. But they do describe my attitude/thoughts/actions at certain times. They are areas with which I struggle sometimes, although I know God is always working on me.
What about you? Which of those words speaks to your heart? I’m not saying to think badly of yourself or beat yourself up. Just look at yourself in an honest, open-minded light. Once you see where you struggle, submit it to Jesus. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). He will change us and make us better people. But we have to first admit where we’re wrong.
Back to our Bible quote for the day: Love does not delight in evil. Now that we understand what evil is, and that we are all capable of evil (or sin if you prefer), what does it mean to delight in evil?
The definition of “delight” is “great pleasure.” So, basically, what the Bible is saying is that if we are truly born-again and want to love as God does, we can’t take pleasure in evil things.
I told you that sometimes I struggle with evil thoughts. These thoughts are negative, depressing, they bring me down and stop me from enjoying the life that God has given me. I do not take pleasure in them. And yet…and yet I don’t always try to get rid of them either. Sometimes I purposefully dwell on them, or I stay away from things that I know will give me a change of heart, to make me happier. Why? My sin nature (or flesh). Our flesh doesn’t want us to be happy unless we’re doing something evil. So, if we’re thinking evil thoughts, depressing thoughts, negative thoughts, our flesh is not going to want us to get into a ministry or get encouraged or find our joy. So, that is not love.
If we take pleasure in doing evil things, we are not walking in love. I’m not saying you aren’t saved. Sometimes our flesh nature takes over and yes, we will enjoy sinful, evil things. But only for a time. Eventually, the Holy Spirit takes control and convicts us until we repent and turn back to God.
But, if we want to walk in love, to love ourselves, and God, and others the way God wants us to, we have to learn not to take pleasure in evil and to fight our fleshly, sinful nature by giving it to God in prayer. Only then will we truly be changed.
Next week I’ll talk about what we need to do instead of delighting in evil (rejoice in the truth). Thank you guys so much for reading and I would really love to hear your opinions/ideas/beliefs in the comments below!