Part of Paul’s penetrating list of descriptions of love includes what appears at the beginning of 1 Cor. 13:6 (love) does not rejoice in unrighteousness…What are some ways this can occur?
First of all, there can be a boasting in the minimizing or redefining of sin to the end that unrighteousness is either directly or indirectly promoted–“Come as you are; we accept everybody—Jesus did. You don’t have to settle for those self-righteous, judgmental places.” Then what happens?—”Look at how many people like our message; that’s something to rejoice in.” It would be as long as the message was biblical; meaning as long as the message promoted holiness and righteousness among those who heard it. It goes without saying that it’s not self-righteous to define sin how God does and then to call sinners to repentance, for that is the only pathway of salvation. It’s self-righteous to think that we are somehow innately better than others or that anyone is beyond the grace of God. Regardless, any twisting or perversion of Christ’s teachings is never something that should invoke joy, even if the masses seem to be attracted to it.
We should never rejoice in anything, even if there is some sort of measurable result, if it is not influencing true righteousness.
Next, we can be tempted to rejoice in unrighteousness when someone is sinned against by someone else and you are glad it happened because you determine justice was accomplished—The bully gets bullied, the scammer gets scammed, the slanderer gets slandered or the manipulator gets manipulated–“That guy got what he deserved and I’m off the hook because I wasn’t the one who acted out in vengeance.” Yeah, but you were a silent accomplice in your heart because you were pleased that sin took place!
This begs the question: Do you want others to be happy when someone’s sin harms you? Furthermore, are we saying that our sins don’t deserve any type of justice; that we’ve never done anything to anyone that deserves payback? If God meted out his perfect justice on us, needless to say, it would be a terrifying event.
Finally, we can be tempted to rejoice when someone gets caught in a trespass because we are glad their true colors got exposed. We had been anxiously awaiting the day that person would no longer be able to receive the honor that we would like to have, especially because they don’t treat us how we’d like to be treated. So that day comes and we think: “Yes! Thank you for sinning so that the world can know who you really are.”
We must be our guard, beloved, from finding joy in things that are directly opposed to God’s will. That not only is unloving, but it is evidence of unrighteousness itself.