As I have found myself in 1 Corinthians 13 over and over lately from preaching through verse 13 to just spending time meditating and praying over the truth of love verse 6 has become so key. Verse 6 says that love, “does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” Love rejoices in the truth of God and His Word. Love rejoices in the truth. What this means is joy is key to love and truth is key to joy. True joy is found in truth and God is truth. Saint Augustine in his Confessions says, “true happiness is to rejoice in the truth, for to rejoice in the truth is to rejoice in you, O God, who are the truth.” Joy is found in God. Joy is found in the truth who is God.
When we talk about truth it seems we talk only about fighting for the truth and standing for the truth. We seek to use truth to fight against the world around us. In this way of thinking the truth is a set of ideas and beliefs that must be articulated and defended against wrong ideas and beliefs. There is no doubt we should defend the truth of God’s word in a culture progressively hostile to any truth at all. I don’t think there is much debate here, but is that the primary way we must think of truth or is there a more basic, fundamental way we should understand truth? I want to suggest truth is not first of all ideas and beliefs to be fought for, but a person to rejoice in and to love whose love and joy then flow through us to the world. The only way we should fight for the truth is when we have first of all rejoiced in truth. We must not see the truth only as a hammer of ideas and beliefs to prove ourselves right. The truth must be something, or rather someone, in which we rejoice.
To rejoice in the truth is to love the truth. To rejoice in God is to love God. This is one and the same. We take joy in what we love and we love what we take joy in. What 1 Corinthians 13:6 showed me is love is marked by joy in the truth. Where we see truth we rejoice in it because where we see truth we see a glimpse of God. To rejoice in the truth we must know what the truth is and to know what the truth is we must know God who is truth. Once again, truth is not something first and foremost to be defended it is someone to be rejoiced in. Too much of what we do in the name of truth is marked by fighting, but we can only stand faithfully and winsomely when we do so out of joy. To biblically stand for truth is to stand with love and joy. I want to call us back to rejoicing in God as the fountain for our faithful witness to the world.
We must be people marked by joy. We must rejoice in the truth, rejoice in God to be the people God has called us to be, to be faithful in the age in which we live, to be salt and light to the world. Joy must mark us, church. Joy must flow out from us. Joy must separate us from a world filled with restlessness and anxiety. A part of this joy is the hope we have in Christ. Biblical joy is filled with biblical hope. Joy and hope are inextricably linked. We have joy because we have hope. We have hope because we have the promises of God, the God who is always faithful to keep these promises. These promises are absolute truth and this truth gives us hope, which breeds in us joy. To rejoice in the truth is to be filled with hope.
Hope looks back to see the faithfulness of God to never leave nor forsake His people. Hope looks back to see God keeps His promises, to see what God has done for us. Hope also looks forward. Hope looks to the promises of God that are to be fulfilled. Hope looks to the promises of the New Heavens and the New Earth. Hope looks to the redemption and restoration to come. This world is broken. This world is full of evil and suffering, but it will not always be so and therefore we have hope and this hope gives us joy which cannot be stolen or taken no matter what we face. To be people filled with joy, to rejoice in the truth, we must be people of hope and we are people of hope because of Jesus. We rejoice in Him, we have hope in Him.
Instead of hope and joy many times the church is marked by fear. We fear the loss of a cultural place. We fear the loss of earthly power. We fear the other. We fear the future. Our fear ultimately is a lack of joy and a lack of hope. We can only see what is in front of us. Or, we think (whether we say it or not) what we are facing is bigger than God and His love. What combats this fear? Truth. The truth of who God is and what God has done in Jesus produces in us joy to face our fear. The truth of what God will do produces in us hope expelling our fear. Therefore, we rejoice in the truth for the truth helps us face the broken world we live in with hope, with joy, and with love.
Rejoice in the truth because the truth will set you free from fear. Joy produces hope and the basis for this hope is the same truth, it is Jesus. Do you see the truth as a hammer or do you rejoice in the truth and find hope in the truth? To be the church we are called to be we must be men and women filled with joy and marked by hope. The wellspring of this joy and hope is the truth. To love as we are called to love in 1 Corinthians 13 we must rejoice in the truth. To be faithful we must rejoice in the truth.