Summary: A look at love and justice and seeing how they are not opposed but work together, what this means for God and us.
Love, it is the key principal in a Christian’s life. God is love and we should respond in love. Jesus said that by our love would people know that we are his disciples. And here in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul shows that everything of value has to be done in love and motivated by love and that great deeds and accomplishments are nothing with out it. We are nothing without love. We have been looking at how Paul describes love in 1 Corinthians 13. We are doing this in a three fold way. First looking at how Jesus showed this aspect of love. Then reflecting on who we do or do not show this and finally looking to see where we can improve and where we need God’s help to do better. While, I offer suggestions for the last two, they are really up to you, to go home and pray through and ask God to show you what you need to do and to ask him to help you. This week we are on verse 6 . “It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.”
Love and justice are typically portrayed as being opposed to one another. I briefly mentioned in my introduction to this subject from 1 John 4, that God’s love and justice are not opposed to each other but rather two sides of the same coin. God is just because God is love. God’s justice is just an expression of his love. But verse 6 gives another opportunity to wrestle with this issue again. And I’m going to take it because I think this one takes more than one explanation to sink in. Besides this gives us the opportunity to take it beyond God’s love and justice to our love and justice.
Love vs Justice, Love is Justice
First the misconception again. We have this idea of two scales on one side is God’s love for us and on the other is God’s justice, a rigid set of rules that we have broken. We set up God’s love vs God’s justice. Which is going to win out, is God’s justice more important to God than his love. We have this picture that up until Jesus, God’s justice was winning out and there was no hope, but because of the cross God’s love could win out over and above the justice. This is completely the wrong picture.
God’s justice is not vs his love. God’s love is his justice. Now this might appear counter intuitive or not what you might have heard before. But please bear with me and we’ll see how this is the Christian truth, not some weird thing I’ve made up. The thing is when you love someone you want what is best for them. You don’t want them to be kicked around, bullied, exploited or abused. For those of you who have kids, you feel protective of them and don’t like it when other kids take advantage of them or are nasty or spiteful to them. In the same way God doesn’t like it when his creatures are abused, exploited or treated badly. He loves them and so he wants what is best for them and so he is angry when others don’t give it to them and treat them badly. God wants justice for us, because he loves us. God’s justice is not an arbitrary code, which must be adhered to. It is a loving God wanting the very best for his creatures, whom he loves. When the ones God’s loves are exploited, abused, bullied or taken advantage of, he cares, he hurts. God wants justice for them because he loves them. God’s justice is God’s love. Of course God’s love is more than justice but God’s justice is not more than God’s love, it is not independent of it or opposed to it. Do you get this, everything else that we’re talking about this morning rests of grasping this. But sometimes it takes a bit to sink in.
Of course this produces a problem for God, because God loves even the one who is the exploiter, the unjust. In fact we all treat other people unjustly, we are all the exploiter. So God’s problem is not so much that his justice is opposed to his love, but rather that all the ones he loves do not love and are unjust to one another. So in this sense it is our injustice which is opposed to God’s love.
So how does this apply to us.
Love is never glad about injustice
Paul tells us that love is never glad about injustice. Paul is telling us that just as God’s justice springs from his love, so our love should also produce a desire for justice in our lives. That because we love, we care for justice. We have already noted how this works in the lives of our children.