Rejoiceth not in iniquity - Ου χαιρει επι τῃ αδικιᾳ· Rejoiceth not in falsehood, but on the contrary, rejoiceth in the truth: this meaning αδικια has in different parts of the Scriptures. At first view, this character of love seems to say but little in its favor; for who can rejoice in unrighteousness or falsity? But is it not a frequent case that persons, who have received any kind of injury, and have forborne to avenge themselves, but perhaps have left it to God; when evil falls upon the sinner do console themselves with what appears to them an evidence that God has avenged their quarrels; and do at least secretly rejoice that the man is suffering for his misdeeds? Is not this, in some sort, rejoicing in iniquity? Again: is it not common for interested persons to rejoice in the successes of an unjust and sanguinary war, in the sackage and burning of cities and towns; and is not the joy always in proportion to the slaughter that has been made of the enemy? And do these call themselves Christians? Then we may expect that Moloch and his sub-devils are not so far behind this description of Christians as to render their case utterly desperate. If such Christians can be saved, demons need not despair!
But rejoiceth in the truth - Αληθεια· Every thing that is opposite to falsehood and irreligion. Those who are filled with the love of God and man rejoice in the propagation and extension of Divine truth - in the spread of true religion, by which alone peace and good will can be diffused throughout the earth. And because they rejoice in the truth, therefore they do not persecute nor hinder true religion, but help it forward with all their might and power.
Rejoiceth not in iniquity - Does not rejoice over the “vices” of other people; does not take delight when they are guilty of crime, or when, in any manner, they fall into sin. It does not find pleasure in hearing others accused of sin, and in having it proved that they committed it. It does not find a malicious pleasure in the “report” that they have done wrong; or in following up that report, and finding it established. Wicked people often find pleasure in this Romans 1:32, and rejoice when others have fallen into sin, and have disgraced and ruined themselves. People of the world often find a malignant pleasure in the report, and in the evidence that a member of the Church has brought dishonor on his profession. A man often rejoices when an enemy, a persecutor, or a slanderer has committed some crime, and when he has shown an improper spirit, uttered a rash expression, or taken some step which shall involve him in ignominy. But love does none of these things. It does not desire that an enemy, a persecutor, or a slanderer should do evil, or should disgrace and ruin himself. It does not rejoice, but grieves, when a professor of religion, or an enemy of religion - when a personal friend or foe has done anything wrong. It neither loves the wrong, nor the fact that it has been done. And perhaps there is no greater triumph of the gospel than in its enabling a man to rejoice that even his enemy and persecutor in any respect does well; or to rejoice that he is in any way honored and respected among people. Human nature, without the gospel, manifests a different feeling; and it is only as the heart is subdued by the gospel, and filled with universal benevolence, that it is brought to rejoice when all people do well.
Rejoiceth in the truth - The word “truth” here stands opposed to “iniquity,” and means virtue, piety, goodness. It does not rejoice in the “vices,” but in the “virtues” of others. It is pleased, it rejoices when they “do well.” It is pleased when those who differ from us conduct themselves in any manner in such a way as to please God, and to advance their own reputation and happiness. They who are under the influence of that love rejoice that good is done, and the truth defended and advanced, whoever may be the instrument; rejoice that others are successful in their plans of doing good, though they do not act with us; rejoice that other people have a reputation well earned for virtue and purity of life, though they may differ from us in opinion, and may be connected with a different denomination. They do not rejoice when other denominations of Christians fall into error; or when their plans are blasted; or when they are calumniated, and oppressed, and reviled.
By whomsoever good is done, or wheresoever, it is to them a matter of rejoicing; and by whomsoever evil is done, or wheresoever, it is to them a matter of grief; see Philemon 1:14-18. The “reason” of this is, that all sin, error, and vice will ultimately ruin the happiness of anyone; and as love desires their happiness, it desires that they should walk in the ways of virtue, and is grieved when they do not. What a change would the prevalence of this feeling produce in the conduct and happiness of mankind! How much ill-natured joy would it repress at the faults of others? How much would it do to repress the pains which a man often takes to circulate reports disadvantageous to his adversary; to find out and establish some flaw in his character; to prove that he has said or done something disgraceful and evil! And how much would it do even among Christians, in restraining them from rejoicing at the errors, mistakes, and improprieties of the friends of revivals of religion, and in leading them to mourn over their errors in secret, instead of taking a malicious pleasure in promulgating them to the world! This would be a very different world if there were none to rejoice in iniquity; and the church would be a different church if there were none in its bosom but those who rejoiced in the truth, and in the efforts of humble and self-denying piety.
Those who love Jesus will love those for whom Christ died. If many of the sinners that are around us had received the light which has blessed us, they would have rejoiced in the truth, and have been in advance of many that have had a long experience and great advantages. Take these lost sheep as your special burden, and watch for souls as they that must give an account. Draw not a glance to yourself, but cry with earnest, heartfelt interest, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” This is the Christian's message to the world. This is the effective argument. Encourage your heart to put forth earnest endeavors to induce perishing souls to fix their eyes upon Him who was uplifted upon the cross; and remember that as you do this, unseen angels are ... impressing it upon the heart, and leading the soul to believe in Jesus. The sinner is enabled to see Jesus as He is—full of compassion, pity, and love—and he exclaims, “Thy gentleness hath made me great” (Psalm 18:35) (The Review and Herald, June 30, 1896). LHU 209.4Read in context »
There is really no place in heaven for these dispositions. A man with such a character will only make heaven miserable, because he himself is miserable. “Except ye be born again,” said Christ, “ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” To enter heaven, a man must have Christ formed within, the hope of glory, and take heaven with him. The Lord Jesus alone can fashion and change the character. For want of patience, kindness, forbearance, unselfishness, and love, the revealings of the traits flash forth involuntarily when off guard, and unchristian words, unchristlikeness of character burst forth sometimes to the ruin of the soul. “Rejoiceth not in iniquity.” Mark it. The apostle meant where there is a cultivation of genuine love for precious souls, it will be exhibited for those most in need of that patience which suffereth long and is kind, and will not be ready to magnify a small indiscretion or direct wrong into large unpardonable offenses, and will not make capital of others’ misdoings. The love for souls for whom Christ died will not do that which has been done through misconceptions of that which was due to the erring, exposing their errors and weakness before a whole school. How do you think Jesus has looked upon such transactions? Had He been present He would have said to those doing these things, “Ye know not the Scriptures nor the power of God.” For in the Scriptures it is plainly shown how to deal with the erring. Forbearance, kindly consideration, “Consider thyself lest thou also be tempted,” would meet the stubborn, obdurate heart. Love of Jesus will cover a multitude of sins, that they shall not prey upon the offender neither be exposed to create feelings of every stripe and character in the human breast of those to whom these errors and mistakes are laid open, and in the one thus dealt with. He is too often driven to desperation. His mind is beyond the healing. Now the work is to have the grace of Christ in the soul which will never, never be guilty of exposing another's wrongs, unless it is a positive necessity. Practice in the line of Christ. The true witness speaks in Revelation 21:5. Practice love. There is nothing in Christianity that is capricious. FE 279.1
If a man will not exercise his arm, it becomes weak and deficient in muscular strength. Unless the Christian exercises his spiritual powers, he acquires no strength of character, no moral vigor. Love is a very precious plant and must be cultivated if it flourishes. The precious plant of love is to be treated tenderly (practiced), and it will become strong and vigorous and rich in fruit-bearing, giving expression to the whole character. A Christlike nature is not selfish, not unkind, and will not hurt the souls of those who are struggling with Satan's temptations. It will enter into the feelings of those who are tempted that the trials and temptations shall be so managed as to bring out the gold and consume the dross. This is the practice which God appoints to all. In this, Christ's school, all may learn their lessons daily, both teachers and pupils, to be patient, humble, generous, noble. You will all have to seek God most earnestly in prayer mingled with living faith, and the molding hand of God will bring out His own image in your character. Temptations will come, but not overcome. But through grace found in opening the heart to the knock and voice of Jesus, Christian character and experience are growing more and more beautiful and heavenly. Let us bear in mind that we are dealing with souls that Christ has purchased with infinite cost to Himself. O tell the erring, God loves you, God died for you. Weep over them, pray with them. Shed tears over them, but do not get angry with them. They are Christ's purchased possession. Let every one seek a character that will express love in all his actions. “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” It were better not to live than to exist day by day devoid of that love which Christ has revealed in His character, and has enjoined upon His children. Said Christ, “Love one another as I have loved you.” We live in a hard, unfeeling, uncharitable world. Satan and his confederacy are plying every art to seduce the souls for whom Christ has given His precious life. Every one who loves God in sincerity and truth, will love the souls for whom Christ has died. If we wish to do good to souls, our success with these souls will be in proportion to their belief in our belief in, and appreciation of, them. Respect shown to the struggling human soul is the sure means through Christ Jesus of the restoration of the self-respect the man has lost. Our advancing ideas of what he may become is a help we cannot ourselves fully appreciate. We have need of the rich grace of God every hour, then we will have a rich, practical experience, for God is love. He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God. Give love to them that need it most. The most unfortunate, those who have the most disagreeable temperaments need our love, our tenderness, our compassion. Those who try our patience need most love. We pass through the world only once; any good thing we can do, we should do most earnestly, untiringly, with the same spirit as is stated of Christ in His work. He will not fail nor be discouraged. The rough, stubborn, sullen dispositions are the ones who need help the most. How can they be helped? Only by that love practiced in dealing with them which Christ revealed to fallen man. Treat them, you may, as they deserve. What if Christ had treated us thus? He, the undeserving, was treated as we deserve. Still we are treated by Christ with grace and love as we did not deserve, but as He deserved. Treat some characters, as you think they richly deserve, and you will cut off from them the last thread of hope, spoil your influence and ruin the soul. Will it pay? No, I say no, a hundred times no. Bind these souls who need all the help it is possible for you to give them close to a loving, sympathizing, pitying heart, overflowing with Christlike love, and you will save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins. Had we not better try the love process? FE 280.1
Be careful what you do in the line of suspending students. This is a solemn business. It should be a very grave fault which requires this discipline. Then there should be a careful consideration of all the circumstances connected with the case. Students sent from home a short distance or a long distance, thousands and thousands of miles, are away from and deprived of the advantages of home, and if expelled are refused the privileges of school. All their expenses have to be met by some one who has had hope and confidence in these subjects that their money would not be invested in vain. The student enters into, or falls into, temptation, and he is to be disciplined for his wrong. He feels keenly that his record is marred, and he disappoints those who have trusted him to develop a character under the influence of his training in his scholastic life, which will pay all that has been invested in his behalf. But he is suspended for his foolish course of action. What will he do? Courage is at the lowest ebb, courage and even manliness are not cherished. He is on expense, and precious time is lost. Who is tender and kind, and feels the burden of these souls? What wonder that Satan takes advantage of the circumstances. They are thrust on Satan's battle ground and the very worst feelings of the human heart are called into exercise and strengthened and become confirmed. I put the case as it has been presented to me. I wish all could view this as it has in all its bearings been shown me. I think there would be radical changes made in many rules and methods of dealing with human minds. There would be more physicians to heal human souls, who understand how to deal with human minds. There would be far more forgiveness and sympathy and love practiced, and far less discouraging, tearing down influences exercised. Supposing that Christ should deal with all His sons and daughters who learn of Him, as the human agent, as teachers, deal with those under their charge; that when the law of the Lord, His rules, His injunctions have been disregarded by us, the guilty are expelled or suspended, turning the erring away from His saving, uplifting, educating influences, leaving him to pick and choose his own way and course of action without His divine assistance, what would become of our souls? His constant forgiving love is binding up our soul's interest with Himself. O the mightiness of the love of Jesus overwhelms me as I consider it. The yoke of Christ is easy and His burden is light. When we enter more entirely into the love of Jesus by practice, we shall see far different results in our own advancement as Christians, and in the molding of the character of those brought in relationship with us. The most difficult business for individuals is the giving up that which one thinks is his right. Love seeketh not her own. Heaven-born love strikes deeper than the surface. Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Fortified with the grace of Christ love doth not behave itself unseemly. He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God. God is love. We all need love, gentleness, tenderness, compassion, and forbearance. Expel from the soul every vestige of selfishness or human dignity. FE 282.1Read in context »
Brother D's manner of working also makes his course more deserving of censure and a greater offense to God. Had he shown his feelings undisguised, had he said in public the things he talked in private, no one would have thought for a moment of sending him out to labor in the conference. While he is laboring under its sanction, his brethren have a right to suppose that his views are correct. And with this sanction his influence has been a power for evil. There are some who would never have entertained suspicion of their brethren or thought evil of them had it not been for his words. He has started minds on a track which, if pursued, will end in rebellion and the loss of the soul. Stripped of its disguise, this is the work which our good brother has been doing. 5T 290.1
God has presented this matter before me in its true light. Brother D's heart is not right. It is defiled with bitterness, wrath, envy, jealousy, and evil surmising, and it needs to be purified. Unless he changes his course entirely, he will soon be a fallen man. Charity, or love, “suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 5T 290.2
Suppose that Brother D leads the people to question and reject the testimonies that God has been giving to His people during the past thirty-eight years; suppose he makes them believe that the leaders in this work are designing, dishonest men, engaged in deceiving the people; what great and good work has he done? It is a work exactly similar to that of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and with all whom he has influenced the result will be disastrous. He has thought that he could not be in error; but does this work bear the signet of heaven? No; Brother D has indulged a self-righteous spirit, which has almost ruined him. Let him come upon an equality with his brethren; if he has difficulties with them in regard to their course of action, let him show wherein their sin lies. 5T 290.3Read in context »
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. TMK 117.1
Through His inspired apostle Christ has presented to us the measure of the character that is imbued with the love of Christ. We are to bear the marks of Christ, we are to have His likeness. This example is given us that we may know the possibilities, the heights we may reach in and through Christ. The standard He presents is perfection in Him, and through His merits we may attain to it. We come short because we are content to look at earthly things rather than at heavenly. It is by beholding Christ that we are changed from glory to glory. The eye that views common things needs to be elevated.... TMK 117.2Read in context »