Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. --Romans 12:15
It would not be a stretch for me to say that I can be a jealous and envious person. Just recently I learned that one of my acquaintances continues to be successful in an area in which I struggle to excel. This individual is charming, well-liked in many social circles, humble, and has never been anything but nice to me.
And yet despite, or in some ways, because of all of this, my immediate reaction upon hearing about their success is not to rejoice with them in their accomplishments, but to harbor bitterness in my heart. I become remarkably self-centered and hyper aware of how I’m not receiving the same accolades or making the same sort of progress in my goals.
Truth be told, I would much rather “weep with those who weep” than “rejoice with those who rejoice.” Why? Because in my selfishness, it’s easy to capitalize on my brother or sister’s woundedness to make myself feel significant. In the darker recesses of my heart, I can take pleasure in the fact that I’m doing better than my brother or sister in Christ while still giving the appearance that I’m hurting with them. Sometimes I can be decent at lending a listening ear, and if I can be just empathetic or just thoughtful enough, there’s a chance that I could even be the hero of a bad situation! Maybe I can’t solve the problem entirely, but I can at least bolster my reputation by acting as the wonderful individual who was kind enough to empathize.
It’s harder to sinfully subvert the command to rejoice with those who rejoice, however. While I can fake happiness when my heart is bitter and jealous, there’s no chance for me to manipulate the situation for my gain. Thus, I’m given a choice: I can dive deeply into the wells of my bitterness and lie about how happy I am for my friend (though this really offers me no long-term benefits), or I can swallow the hard pill of my pride and recognize that the success of my friend is no threat to me. We are one body in Christ, and when a single member flourishes the whole body is to rejoice.
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. --1 Corinthians 12:26