No Theological Schadenfreude

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #158

Charity “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Cor. 13:7).

In this verse, we see that love does four things. Two of them are active, and two are responsive. In the middle of Paul’s thought, love believes all things and it hopes all things. This faith and this hope operate in tandem. “Believes all things” does not refer to gullibility, but rather refers to a non-cynical attitude. Love wants it to go in a positive direction, and does not want a crash so that it may indulge in a little theological schadenfreude, watching the triumph of total depravity once more.

It is striking that this is not a rose-colored glasses thing because this same charity bears all things, and endures all things. Love puts up with a lot, but does not do so in a way that makes it stop believing all things and hoping all things. This means that the “bearing” and the “enduring” are not done while muttering under the breath. The faith and hope are carrying a load, and the carrying of the load is not done in a way as to become grievous.

Love and Truth Link Arms

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #157

Charity “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).

This verse comes right to the point. There is one verb, used twice. Charity does not rejoice in one thing, and does rejoice in another. Though it is the same root verb, there is a distinction. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness (adikia), but does rejoice in the truth (aletheia). The rejoicing in the first instance is chairo and in the second synchairo. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or iniquity, but love rejoices together with the truth. Love and truth are partners in joy.

The common dichotomy that pits love and truth against one another as though they were adversaries is either a verbal slander or an enacted slander. In the verbal slander, someone dismisses someone who is standing for the truth as necessarily unloving, or dismisses someone who is full of love as some kind of a doctrinal compromiser.

The enacted slander happens when the dichotomy is assumed, and the person chooses which one he wants to adopt. He stands for truth, and blows all errorists away with his machine gun of thruppa thruppa theology. Or he picks love, which in his mind is an amorphous gas that fills the room with sweet and sticky acceptance. Whichever way it goes, this kind of behavior makes the task of the verbal slanderer much easier, because all he has to do is say see?

So what does love do? Love refuses to have any joy in iniquity. Love refuses to celebrate an ungodly or perverse wedding, for example. Love refuses to lift a glass of joy. Love will be accused of many things for this, and the central charge will be that this posture is unloving. This is because people are defining love out of the wrong dictionary. In the famous love chapter, love refuses to rejoice in unrighteousness. Not only so, but love links arms with the truth, and they rejoice together.

Rise Above Offense

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #156

Charity “doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (1 Cor. 13:5).

We are taking care to work slowly through Paul’s description of what love is like. We have noted that this is a superb description of what Jesus is like, and what we should be like in imitation of Him. In other words, this description of love is not an abstract and impersonal super law, but is rather a description of personal characteristics. We acquire in the process of personal imitation.

Love does not behave in an unseemly way. The ESV renders this as “rude,” and the New King James says it does not “behave rudely.”

Love is not Furtive

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #155

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (1 Cor. 13:4).

We have come to a famous and very exalted passage, the apostle Paul’s paean to love. Given the nature of the case, and the nature of our particular shortfalls, it would be a shame to rush through it.

A common preacher’s trick is to have everyone substitute their own name for the word love here, and then to ask searchingly how everyone measures up. The answer of course is no one, and we are all suitably chastened and abashed, and crawl home like a dog that’s been beat too much. But that response is not fitting, not even on its own terms. The passage does not end with Charity is furtive, and guilty; charity does not know where to look.

We are Christians, and we follow Christ, and He is the one who has liberated us. So we should begin by substituting the name of the Lord Jesus here. It fits perfectly, and it is consistent with good news. Because He is like this, we are not consumed.

Never in Shadow

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #154

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Cor. 13:1–3).

Paul has promised to show us a more excellent way, which is the way of love, and he begins by contrasting it with some of its more common substitutes. Those substitutes we might describe as rhetoric, genuine knowledge, powerful faith, mercy work, and martyrdom.

Spiritual Gifts and Unspiritual Men

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #153

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1 Cor. 12:31).

Paul is now moving into his very famous chapter on love, and the last verse of chapter 12 is actually the first verse of chapter 13.

In order to understand his argument here, and the juxtaposition he sets up, we have to understand that gifts of the Spirit are good, if they are used rightly, and the fruit of the Spirit is good, by definition. If the Holy Spirit has given someone the gift of teaching, he has that gift on days he is walking with God and on days when he is not. When someone is exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, by definition he is doing right. Teaching, administration, encouragement, etc. can all happen when the practitioner is not right with God. But love, joy and peace cannot.

Do All Speak in Tongues?

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #152

Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” (1 Cor. 12:29–30).

Paul is bringing his extended analogy in for a landing. He has been comparing the body of Christ to a physical body, and arguing that different individuals in the body are like different organs of the body—all having different functions, but with the well-being and health of the one body as their common goal and purpose.

The IT Guy

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #151

“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:28).

When Paul gives a list of spiritual gifts, as he does here, it is not meant to be a comprehensive or exhaustive list. Rather, such lists need to be understood as representative samples of the gifts that are operative within the body. We can tell this from the fact that he gives such lists in different places, and the lists of gifts are not identical. For example, we have the listing here, but another one in Romans.