He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue.
In 1 Corinthians 13:5-6, the Apostle Paul wrote, “[Love] does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.”
First, love “does not take into account a wrong suffered.” The Greek word used here is an accounting term that means to put a debit in a financial ledger. Recordkeeping is essential for personal business, but it is lethal in personal relationships. If you are always keeping a list of things people owe you for offenses they have committed against you, then you are going to have a hard time keeping harmony in those relationships. Instead, we are to treat other people the way God treats us. In Romans 4:8, Paul said, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” Aren’t you grateful that there is no ledger in Heaven keeping a list of all of the offenses you have committed against God? If you are a Christian, that ledger has been destroyed; it has been erased by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Second, love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness.” That does not mean love does not enjoy sin. This verse is talking about how you feel about the misfortune of other people, especially your enemies. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon addressed this very clearly. He said in Proverbs 17:5, “He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.” We are never to take pleasure in the misfortune of other people. God will not let that sin go unpunished. True love does not rejoice in the misfortune of other people.
Finally, love “rejoices with the truth.” Many people think that if you love somebody, you will withhold the truth to avoid offending that person. But that is not what the Bible says. If you truly love somebody, you are going to share the truth. Love means telling people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. A lot of times we confuse truth and flattery. We are hesitant to tell people what they need to hear because we do not want to risk hurting our reputation or hurting the relationship. Yet did you know the Bible says that not telling the truth is a sign of hatred for another person? In Proverbs 26:28, Solomon said, “A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
When you flatter somebody, you are more interested in yourself than you are in the well-being of that other person. You are trying to get something out of them. You are trying to keep a relationship going for your own benefit. You tell them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. The truth is the most loving thing you can share with someone. Proverbs 28:23 says that in the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery: “He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue.” True love tells the truth, even when that truth hurts.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Love Connection” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.