“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 ESV).
The Bible tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 ESV). Have you noticed that the second part of that sentence is easy, but the first part can be really tough?
When somebody’s having a tough time, it’s easy to be sympathetic. It’s easy to encourage people when they’re down. But sometimes what we can’t stand is when they get a promotion. We’re not very good at handling the success of other people. Rather than rejoicing in it, we resent it. In fact, we wish bad things would happen to people, because somehow we think that if we can blow out somebody else’s candle, ours will shine brighter.
There’s plenty of God’s grace to go around. If God wants to pay other people the same amount, so what? I shouldn’t even worry about what he wants to give other people. I should worry about what I’m doing with what I’ve been given.
Let me explain something about envy to you. Envy happens close to you. It happens in your relationship to your peers. You don’t typically envy people who aren’t your peers. You can have some kind of idol worship that says, “I wish I were like that superstar.” But really it’s not as grating as the people closest to you. Those are the people you have the hardest time seeing success in — your family and friends.
Envy is insidious. It devalues others, it destroys relationships, and it makes you miserable. It’s hidden, but it’s destructive. And it causes you to miss out on so much joy.
You’ve wanted to be married, but you’re not married. Or you were married and it fell apart. Now you hate weddings. When you get a wedding invitation, you start resenting. You don’t like weddings, because you think that when someone else’s candle is shining, it will put yours out. You’re wrong.
You’ll enjoy life a whole lot more if you will learn to be happy over the successes of other people. If you’re only happy when things go well for you, you’re going to be miserable most of your life, because things won’t always go well for you or anybody else. But if you learn to be happy at other people’s successes and enjoy other people’s celebrations, you can be happy all the time.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love does not envy.” Envy is the most unloving thing you can do to somebody else. Love is not envious.
Love celebrates God’s goodness to others.
Talk It Over
- Who are the people you call when you want to celebrate something good in your life? Are you that kind of friend to other people?
- How have you seen envy destroy a relationship?
- In what ways does envy tend to creep into our hearts? What can you do to keep it from getting a grip on your heart?