The Right Kind of Rejoicing in Marriage

October 5, 2012 at 9:58 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 10 Comments
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Charity…

…[r]ejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

I Corinthians 13:6

Charity is agape love. It is “Christian” love. Within the context of marriage it is self-sacrificing love, active love, love-in-motion, Christ-like love. It is a decision to treat your spouse right, even when you do not feel right about your spouse. It is a giving of yourself for your spouse with two main goals in view:

1. That your spouse receives grace and mercy.
2. That your spouse is directed more toward righteousness (toward conformity to Christ).

There is a meeting point where grace and mercy intersect with righteousness, so that loyalty between spouses is “true” loyalty: a looking-out for the greater good. The greater good is, first of all, the good of Christ, Who is illustrated and advertised by Christian marriage. Second, it is the good of the other spouse, who can not be allowed to rejoice in iniquity.

There are two different words for “rejoiceth” in I Corinthians 13:6. Chairo is singular rejoicing. It is focused on the joy that the one who rejoices receives from an event. Sygchairo (pronounced “SOOG – high-ro”) is the second “rejoiceth,” and it is focused on rejoicing together. Sygchairo is the kind of joy that grabs all the people around you – or whoever is available – and is expected to be contagious.

In I Corinthians 13:5 we saw that love in marriage is supposed to be merciful. It doesn’t assume evil. Now we see that when it is disappointed and finds evil anyway, it does not rejoice. It does not even secretly rejoice (rejoice alone) with the satisfaction of being proven “right.”

In marriage we should never be happy about iniquity. Our own iniquity and any iniquity on the part of our spouse ought to be detested and dealt with lovingly but seriously. Therefore, rejoicing alone in marriage is a potentially dangerous thing. A warning sign should pop up when there is something you rejoice over without a desire to share it with your spouse. And a double warning sign should appear if your rejoicing over something is dependent upon your spouse not rejoicing over it together with you. If these things occur, the thing you are rejoicing over is almost certainly iniquity.

This might seem elementary, because we would obviously expect that if Christian love in marriage does not rejoice in iniquity, it must rejoice instead in righteousness or at least goodness of some sort. But that is not what I Corinthians 13:6 says. It says true Christian love rejoices in the truth. It rejoices together in the truth because the truth is not being hidden. It rejoices in authenticity or genuineness. And since “the truth” is just that – actual objective reality – both spouses can experience it and enjoy it.

“Honey, I had a great day today [leaving out the detail that I won $800 at the casino].” That’s not real love because one person is rejoicing in iniquity.

“Honey, I love you and I don’t want to assume the worst, but someone told me they saw you at the casino today.” That’s not rejoicing yet, but if it results in the truth coming out and forgiven sin and a turning to more truth, then it will be rejoicing together.

God loves truth. As married couples we are supposed to be a picture of Christ and His love for the Church. Christ’s love is not a pampering love. It is a perfecting love. It is not interested in iniquity or falsehoods. It is interested in real genuine authentic sanctification (in which, by the way, there is real joy).

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Romans 12:5

This verse is about the Church, but apply it to marriage. My spouse and I, as a married couple, being one flesh, are members one of another.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Romans 12:9

Love is not hypocritical – it’s not hiding and pretending and covering up. That’s what sin did in Eden – it cost the man and his wife their “unashamedness” – their freedom to be uncovered with each other. God tells us to abhor iniquity. Don’t rejoice in it. Rejoice in truth, and rejoice in the Truth. Jesus is Truth personified. Our marriages can’t be about rejoicing in iniquity and rejoicing in Christ at the same time.

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