24 February 2014

rejoicing in the truth

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Thanks to the internet, scandals erupt every day; you needn't do much digging to find someone on "the other side" who just said something outrageous, landed in hot legal water, or is otherwise embarrassing his cause. We constantly hear about secrets revealed and conspiracies outed, and it often confirms our own beliefs or biases, proving how corrupt that "other side" truly is. We gloat.

Well, I think the righteous response to such revelations is grief, because gloating is nothing but the ugly flower of self-congratulation. (I was right after all, and you, imbecilic opponent, you were wrooooong!!!) When we revel in the latest outrage, it shows that for all our apoplectic crusading, we've less interest in tearing down evil than in inflating our own ego.

Heaven knows how often I've been guilty of this. I see a lurid headline advertising the duplicity of the pharmaceutical industry or the hypocrisy of our current presidential administration, and I practically rub my hands together. I feel justified, I look down my nose a bit, and I smugly chalk up another victory for my sagacity. This is not right. How can I feel glad that people have been harmed, relationships broken? Joy should only follow news of truth and goodness . . . never news of evil.

Grief over wrongdoing, then, shows that our indignation is aimed at the wrong itself. We weep over wickedness, and long to see it put straight, regardless of whether or not we get to pat ourselves on the back in the meantime.

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