1 Corinthians 13: 4 -6
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 16th session of the Spiritual Love.
Many people try their best every day to enjoy a happy life. Some work hard to have financial stability and also enjoy an affluent life.
Some others invest a lot of effort and time to gain more knowledge and fame.
They believe they can become happy through these things, and they work hard for the things they consider valuable.
You have accepted the Lord and been born again as God’s children, and what do you seek for your happiness?
If you have true faith, you would desire spiritual love more than anything else.
The Song Solomon 8:7 says, “Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised.”
The wealth, fame, or worldly authority that this world considers valuable, may disappear even in one day. Even if one can enjoy them during his whole life, they will not be any use after his life ends on earth. But the spiritual love that you have cultivated in your heart cannot be taken or destroyed by anybody.
Even if somebody asks for spiritual love offering his whole fortune, it is such a precious thing that you cannot exchange it for anything.
It’s because spiritual love is eternal life, wealth and authority, and glory. It also makes the life of this earth happier and more abundant.
I hope you will understand the value of this love and listen to the message with more of a longing heart.
I urge you to practice what you hear in the message, and possess the treasure called spiritual love.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will be more than conquerors and go into New Jerusalem.
In the last session, we talked about, ‘Love does not take into account a wrong suffered.’
To the extent that we cultivate spiritual love in our heart, we do not think of anything evil. We do not want something to go wrong with others, or judge or condemn others.
Furthermore, those who have cultivated spiritual love completely will not have any thought that is not right according to God’s will.
Because God is love and all His will is good, anything that is not in accordance with God’s will is evil.
Therefore, we can have spiritual love only when we completely cast off all forms of evil.
Then, we will resemble the heart of God who is love itself and have only good thoughts.
Also, in today’s passage it says love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
Not rejoicing in unrighteousness and not keeping an account of wrongs one has suffered are similar.
The difference is, not keeping an account of the wrongs one has suffered is not having any form of evil in the heart.
‘Not rejoicing in unrighteousness’ is not being pleased with shameful or disgraceful conduct, actions or behaviors, and it is not participating in them.
Let me give you an example for a better understanding of the difference between the two.
Suppose you are jealous of a friend who is wealthy. You also dislike him because it seems that he is always boasting of his wealth.
You also think something like, ‘He is so rich, and what about me? I hope he goes bankrupt.’
This is to think of evil things.
But one day, somebody swindled him and his company went bankrupt in a day.
Then, if you take pleasure in it thinking, ‘He was boasting of his wealth, so good for him!’ This is to rejoice in or be pleased with unrighteousness.
Furthermore, if you participate in this kind of work, it is to actively rejoice in unrighteousness.
Let us delve into unrighteousness in more detail.
First, there is unrighteousness in general, which even the worldly people think is unrighteousness.
For example, one may rejoice with money and benefit that he gains through the ways that are not right.
It’s not something he earned with his sweat of his labor, but he cheated or threatened others to take it from them.
Also, one may break the regulations or laws of the country and take for his personal gain.
Leviticus 19:35 says, “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity.”
For example, the judge gives an unrighteous sentence after receiving bribes.
It is to violate the law with his authority and take unrighteous money.
He may pass sentence and punishment on the innocent. A judge has to be more honest than anybody else, but he acts in this kind of unrighteousness because he seeks money.
In the latter part of the verse, it says ‘in measurement of weight, or capacity.’
For example, when somebody sells something, he may cheat in the volume, or he may use cheap and low-quality raw materials to gain unrighteous profit.
He knows what is right, but he cheats others because he rejoices in unrighteous money.
Don’t you have this kind of heart?
Suppose something like the following has happened, and I want you to check your heart.
You are a civil worker, and you came to know that one of your close friends is earning a great mount of money in some business illegally.
If he is caught, he will be punished harshly, and this friend is giving you a great amount of money asking you to be quiet about it.
He says he will give you an even greater amount later. Now, what would you do? Let us imagine another situation. One day, you checked your back account, and you have more money than you thought you should have.
You came to know that the amount that was to be transferred as tax was not withdrawn. In this case, how would you react? Would you rejoice thinking it’s good?
If you are a child of God who truly believes in God, you must not rejoice with money or gain in unrighteousness, even if it is very small.
2 Chronicles 19:7 says, “Now then let the fear of the LORD be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the LORD our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.”
God is righteous; He has no unrighteousness at all. We may cover eyes of people, but we cannot cheat God. Therefore, even just with the fear of God, we have to walk the right way with honesty.
Those who love God and are loved by God will never harm anybody or seek their own benefit violating the law of the country.
Those who rejoice in unrighteousness do so because they don’t have love for God or for their neighbors. God’s children should have sorrow and mourn when they see something unrighteous.
But the unrighteousness in the Lord is a little different from the unrighteousness in general context. It is not only to violate the law and cause damage to others, but also any and every sin that is against the word of God is unrighteousness.
When the evil in heart comes forth in a specific form, it is sin, and this is unrighteousness. Among the many sins, especially, are the works of the flesh.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
The Bible tells us that if we violate the word of God and do unrighteousness, it’s difficult even to be saved.
So, if we see brothers and sisters in faith act in unrighteousness just like the unbelievers of the world, what are we supposed to do?
Of course we have to mourn for them, pray for them, and help them live according to the word. But some people envy those people thinking, ‘I also want to lead an easier and more comfortable Christian life like them.’
Furthermore, if you participate with them, we cannot say you love the Lord.
1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.” As said, Jesus, being righteous, died to bring us who are unrighteous to God.
I hope you will realize this great love and never rejoice in unrighteousness.
Brothers and sisters, wouldn’t it be good if you had a friend who always helps you and comforts you?
John 15:14 says, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.”
As said, if we do not rejoice in unrighteousness but keep the commands of the Lord, then, He will be our friend.
He will help us in whatever we do and make it prosperous. Also, He always gives us comfort and peace in heart.
But we can become His friends who can share the heart with Him only when we resemble His heart. Those who do not rejoice in unrighteousness but mourn about it have much love resembling the heart of the Lord. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will become friends of the Lord who do not rejoice in unrighteousness so that you will be prosperous in all things and go nearer to the throne of the Lord in heavenly kingdom.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, next, it says love rejoices with the truth.
If your heart is full of spiritual love, you will not rejoice in unrighteousness but only rejoice with the truth.
What does it mean by rejoicing with the truth?
First, it is to rejoice with the ‘gospel’.
‘Gospel’ is the good news that we are saved through Jesus Christ and go to heavenly kingdom.
Many people seek the truth. ‘What is the purpose of life? What is valuable life?’
To get the answers to these questions, they study ideas and philosophy, or they try to get the answers through religions.
But in John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
As said, the truth is only Jesus Christ.
You heard this gospel, accepted Jesus Christ and received salvation.
You gained eternal life by rejoicing with the truth.
You are forgiven of your sins through the blood of the Lord and you are moved from hell to heaven. You now understand the meaning of life and live a valuable life.
Therefore, it is something obvious that we rejoice with the gospel. Those who rejoice with the gospel will diligently deliver it to others as well.
They will fulfill their God-given duties and work faithfully to spread the gospel. Also, they rejoice when the souls hear the gospel and receive salvation by accepting the Lord. They rejoice when the kingdom of God is enlarged.
You church members here also rejoice when more newcomers register in the church. You rejoice so much when the church is growing up and more branch churches join us.
1 Timothy 2:4 says, “[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Because you know this will of God, you rejoice when saved souls are increasing.
But some people are jealous of others when they evangelize many people and bear great fruit.
Some churches are jealous of other churches when other churches are growing and giving glory to God.
This is not to rejoice with the truth. We have to check whether we have true love in us. If we do have spiritual love in our heart, we will rejoice when we see the kingdom of God is greatly being accomplished. We will rejoice together when we see a church that is growing and loved by God.
Also, when we see somebody who is more faithful than we are and bears more fruits, we rejoice with him as if it is our own fruits.
This is to rejoice with the truth, which is to rejoice with the gospel.
Secondly, to rejoice with the truth means to rejoice with everything that belongs to the truth.
It is to rejoice with seeing, hearing, and doing the things that belong to the truth, such as goodness, love, and justice. Many of our members shed tears while listening to the message.
You rejoice with the testimonies even about small things and are touched by them.
You also rejoice listening to the word of God. Because all the word of God is truth, you confess that it is sweeter than honey. So, you rejoice listening to the sermons and reading the Bible all the time.
Furthermore, you rejoice practicing the word of God.
For example, the word of God says, ‘Serve, understand and forgive,’ and you joyfully obey the word.
You dislike hating, being envious and jealous, and judging and condemning others so much.
So, those who rejoice with the truth will rejoice when other people are well-off. They are not jealous.
It is unimaginable for them to think evil things such as, ‘something should go wrong with that person,’ or to rejoice because of the unhappiness of other people.
When they see something unrighteous happen, they mourn because of it.
Also, those who rejoice with the truth love the heart that belongs to goodness such as unchanging, heart, truthfulness, and integrity.
They rejoice with good words and good deeds. 3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”
This is the confession of the apostle John, who was called the Apostle of Love.
God the Father also rejoices so much when His children act in the truth. To the extent that the spiritual love fills our heart, we can also resemble this heart of God the Father.
We will rejoice so much when we see the things of the truth.
If we rejoice with the truth only, we will also practice the truth only.
Have you been able to check your heart?
But after listening to the message, is there anybody who is disheartened thinking that you don’t really rejoice with the truth fully?
You can check yourself, but you don’t have to lose heart or be disappointed. If you try your best, God of love considers even that effort as rejoicing with the truth.
And thirdly, to rejoice with the truth is to believe the word of God and try to practice it.
It’s a rarity to find a person who can rejoice with only the truth from the beginning. As long as we have flesh in us, we may think of evil things or we may rejoice with unrighteousness, too.
Only when we change little by little and cast off all the untruthful heart, can we rejoice with the truth completely. Until then, we have to try hard.
For example, in this sanctuary, not all of you feel, ‘Oh, I am so happy to attend worship service.’
In case of new-believers or those with weak faith, you may feel tired, or your heart may be somewhere else. But the deed of coming to the sanctuary and attending the worship service is the effort of trying to obey the word of God. It is to rejoice with the truth.
Why do we try this way? It is to receive salvation and go to heaven. Because we heard the word of the truth and we believe in God, we also believe that there is judgment, and also there is a heaven and a hell.
We Manmin members not only believe in the existence of heaven, but also you know that there are different levels in each dwelling place in heaven, and also that New Jerusalem is the best dwelling place.
You also know that the rewards given to each one is different. That is why you try more diligently to become sanctified and work faithfully in all God’s house.
Though you may not rejoice with the truth 100%, if you try your best in your measure of faith, it is to rejoice with the truth.
God promised us in Revelation 2:10, in the latter part, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
It is not necessarily easy to be faithful until death. But those who rejoice with the truth without changing will be able to be faithful even to sacrifice their lives.
It’s because, to the extent that they believe the word of God and diligently practice it, spiritual faith and hope will be added to them.
They will be full of the hope for heavenly kingdom because they believe that they will be saved and enter into the eternal kingdom of heaven.
Because they believe there are better dwelling places in heaven, they circumcise their heart and work faithfully to take hold of it by force.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is so obvious for us to rejoice with the truth only. Only the truth gives us eternal life and can change us completely.
If we hear the truth, namely the gospel, and believe it, we will gain eternal life. Our spirit that was destined to die due to sins gains new life and furthermore, it will live forever.
So, how precious the truth is!
Also, if we believe the word of God the truth and live by the word, we will finally change into a perfect child of God. The truth has the amazing power to renew all things in men and change them beautifully.
If we change into the truth everyday, we will be so happy. Because we are filled with the hope for heavenly kingdom and spiritual love, our faces will shine with joy.
Also, to the extent that we are changed into truth, we will be happy because we are loved and blessed by God, and also we are loved by many people. After all, we will go into New Jerusalem, so we are always at peace and happy.
I hope you will rejoice with this truth all the time, and furthermore, I hope you have a hunger and thirst for the truth.
If you hunger and thirst, you will earnestly want food and drink. When we long for the truth, we have to long for it this way, too, so that we can quickly change into a man of truth.
We have to live a life of always eating and drinking the truth. What is to eat and drink the truth? It is to keep the word of God the truth in our heart and practice it. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will see, hear, and practice only the truth all the time, and receive the crown of life that is prepared for you.
If you stand before somebody you truly love so much, it’s difficult to hide your happy face. It’s the same when we love God.
Right now, we are not able to stand before God face to face, but if we truly love God, it will show outside. That is, if we just see and hear something about the truth, we will be glad and happy. We will be touched just by little deeds of goodness and shed tears.
The tears that belong to goodness, such as the tears of thanks and tears of mourning for other souls will become beautiful jewels later to decorate each one’s house in heaven.
I hope the tears that you shed rejoicing with the truth will become beautiful jewels that decorate your houses in heaven.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will have the best jewels decorating your houses in New Jerusalem.