Rejoicing in the Misfortune of Others

I heard some not-so-good news recently about a friend. Although I found myself curious about this “so-called iniquity” and slightly tempted to “spread the word” to others…I stopped myself and prayed, because I did not want to believe what I was hearing. Then, two days later I was listening to Turning Point on KCBI on my drive to work and received God’s answer loud and clear through Dr. David Jeremiah. Here is a condensed version of that broadcast that really stuck with me.

What God’s Word Tells Us

1 Corinthians 13 says that Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness and that Love does not rejoice in iniquity, it rejoices in the truth.

Isaiah 5:20 says, “Whoa to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness.” In other words, do not rejoice in iniquity.

Bad news travels quickly! You can get more press coverage for something  sick, sinful and sorted than you could ever get for something that is beautiful and lovely.

God’s love is saddened when He hears about the defeats and the tragedies in other peoples’ lives. It’s easy to be glad, if we are not careful, at another person’s misfortune. Especially when their misfortune has a tendency to make us look better. But God says, as Christian people we never rejoice in the iniquity or misfortune of others. That’s not what love does.

3 John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

What gets you excited? Do you rejoice when you hear that others are doing well, that they’re walking with the Lord?

1 Peter 4:8 says, “Keep fervent love in your heart for one another because love covers a multitude of sin.” Does this mean that we are forgiven of sin because of our love? Not at all. What this verse is really saying is that when you love somebody, you cover their sins instead of exposing them…you don’t broadcast them.

So here’s something ironic. Robb and I were just talking the other day about a passage he was reading in Geneis about when Noah became drunk with wine and fell naked in his tent…why did he curse his son, Ham? So here I am a couple days later listening to David Jeremiah begin to refer to the same passage. He explained that when Noah’s son, Ham, found his father naked in his tent in Genesis 9:21-23, instead of protecting his father’s sin, he broadcast this iniquity to his brothers, who then walked backwards to cover him so they could not be exposed to his iniquity. His brothers demonstrated love for their father by hiding their eyes and covering him. Noah ended up cursing his son, Ham, for broadcasting his iniquity, instead of
demonstrating love.

The Bible says if you Love, you never rejoice in evil or the misfortune of others.

What is Love? The Love chapter in 1 Corinthians tells us love is many things. Among them, Love is that which always seeks the best in the one loved. And it’s not just talking about your family or your friends. Who does God say we are supposed to
love? Why, our neighbor of course. And who is our neighbor? If you don’t remember who your neighbor is then I must ask you to go back and re-read Luke 10:25-37…the story of the Good Samaritan.

If misfortune has befallen the object of your love how can you rejoice? The Bible tells us that rejoicing in sin is a synonym for gossip. This sin of gossip, which many Christians treat lightly is wicked, not only because it uncaringly yields and reveals weaknesses and sins of others and hurts them, but because the heart of the gossip is rejoicing in evil! That’s why it’s wrong.

I love what David Jeremiah said next. He said, “Gossips would do little harm if they didn’t have so many eager listeners.” Boy, isn’t that the truth? Some people believe that if it’s true it’s not gossip. Well, depending on how you tell it, where you tell it and to whom you tell it, it is still gossip. Gossip that is true is still gossip.

The essence of gossip is gloating over the shortcomings and sins of others.

Have you ever had anyone come up to you and whisper in your ear, “Have you heard”, and then tell you something good? It hardly ever happens. Pastor Jeremiah said that whenever anybody comes up to him and says, “Have you heard”, he knows he’s in for some bad news.

He says if we could ever get the good news to travel as fast as the bad news, we’d have a revolution, evangelistically. Gossip is the epitome of delighting in evil. Whoa! Okay, that’s a little scary.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word that is good for edification according to the need of the moment that it may give grace to those who hear.     Ephesians 4:29

In other words, don’t let any type of negative word come out of your mouth but let building-up words come out of your mouth (words of edification), and in doing that you will be blessed. I mean who doesn’t want to be blessed? We all want to be blessed, don’t we?

Someone said, “A child spends two years learning how to speak and the rest of his life learning how to shut up.” Um, that’s pretty profound. I’ve also heard it said that God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a reason. That should make you think.

Then Dr. Jeremiah goes on to recite several verses from Proverbs in which Solomon gives us a lot of wise instruction concerning controlling the lips and the tongue. In essence there are two messages in all those proverbs…

1. It’s bad to be a gossip
2. It is absolutely ridiculous to associate with one

Do you rejoice in the truth or do you get excited about evil?

Pastor Jeremiah then referred to a covenant written and signed in 1752 by John Wesley and a group of Methodist leaders that was hung on his study wall. It said:

1. That we will not listen or inquire willingly after ill concerning one another;
2. If we do hear any ill of each other, we will not believe it
3. That as soon as possible we will communicate what we hear by speaking or writing to the person concerned;
4. That until we have done this, we will not write or speak a syllable of it to any other person;
5. That neither will we mention it, after we have done this, to any other person;
6. That we will not make any exception to any of these rules unless we think ourselves absolutely obliged, and then only in conference.

I located a copy of this covenant on the internet and just below it was this…


It is not wrong if you feel the need to ask a Christian leader for advice about a criticism you have of another person before you approach that person to share the criticism directly. But you must then approach that person. It is not wrong for Christian leaders sometimes to share accurate criticisms of a person when the welfare of the church is threatened in some way. Jesus allows this in Matthew 18:15-17. But this will happen rarely.

What a difference that would make in the body of Christ, in how that would express our love. That we have chosen not to believe an evil report, but to rejoice rather in the truth. If you cannot find any truth then you’re probably asking the wrong people.

We do have a choice. We can choose what we’re going to get excited about. Are we going to get excited about all the good things that God is doing or are we going to get bent out of shape about all the evil things that will always be a part of any collection
of people, no matter where or who they are?

God’s word tells us which choice to make. The Bible says if you’re a loving person you won’t rejoice in iniquity, but you’ll rejoice in the truth.

Rejoicing in iniquity is a sin against God.
Rejoicing in iniquity is a subtle temptation.
Rejoicing in iniquity is a synonym for gossip.
Rejoicing in iniquity is a choice because you can rejoice in the truth.

Let’s ask God to make us sensitive to the things that we do that fall into that category of negative attitudes and let’s get rid of them from our lives. The Bible tells us we can do that if we discipline ourselves to do so and by the power of the holy Spirit it is a possibility and it is a probability, and that is something to get excited about.


This is an excerpt from David Jeremiah’s broadcast entitled “Love’s Power Over A Negative Attitude”, with my added commentary. You can find the full unedited version of this 3/31/17 broadcast archived here.

Posted in Daily Life.

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