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“Love Does Not Delight in Evil”

A Short Commentary On 1 Corinthians 13:6[a]

by Dr. Eitan Bar
2 minutes read

To delight in evil—or schadenfreude—is the pleasure of seeing others fall, sin, suffer, or get in trouble. In the original context of Paul’s writing, this message would have resonated deeply in a community like Corinth, where social and moral discord has tempted some to find satisfaction in the failures of their adversaries. Paul corrects this human impulse by aligning love with a celebration of truth and justice rather than gloating in the fall even of our enemies, repeating the same ancient Hebrew sentiment: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.” (Proverbs 24:17).

Love assumes justice. Here, Paul highlights that genuine love possesses a moral dimension; it is inherently aligned with justice and integrity, rejecting joy in the misfortune of others, irrespective of their relationship to us.

Manifested in the life of Jesus, this principle of love is vividly illustrated. Jesus consistently aligned himself with truth and justice, even when it was radically countercultural or led to personal sacrifice. His interactions, particularly with religious leaders, underscored his commitment to truth, often challenging these leaders on their hypocrisy and misuse of authority. Jesus’ rebukes were not about personal victory but were aimed at revealing deeper spiritual truths to restore the community to the right living under God.

For us today, applying this principle means fostering attitudes and behaviors in our personal and communal lives that uphold truth and justice. It means having the courage to face truths about ourselves and our societies that might be uncomfortable but are necessary for change, growth and improvement. True love compels us to confront, not condone, wrongdoing within our communities and to work towards creating environments where truth is celebrated and upheld.

Moreover, in a world rife with misinformation and deceit, standing for truth is more critical than ever. It requires discernment to navigate complex social and moral landscapes and to promote truth in ways that lead to healing and reconciliation rather than division. Love’s joy in truth also implies a strong educational and formative aspect, where we are called to help others understand and appreciate the importance of living in truth, thus fostering a society that values integrity over convenience or expedience.

To love the truth means to stand against falsehood, deception, and injustice in all forms, whether challenging dishonest political rhetoric, exposing fraudulent business practices, or advocating against unfair social policies that oppress the weak. This should not skip over the Church. In fact, it is far more disheartening to witness justice and truth being suppressed in the name of God than by a “pagan.”

Therefore, embodying this aspect of love involves more than just avoiding harm or speaking the truth; it’s about actively participating in the creation of a community that values and thrives on honesty, transparency, and justice. This is how love becomes a transformative force in the world, challenging each of us to live out the truth with grace and courage.

This article is from my book, “The Theology of Love: Christianity’s Most Underrated Doctrine.

The Theology of Love

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Dr. Eitan Bar
Author, Theologian, Activist