“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Rom. 12:15
In our Christian circles, I’ve seen a sad scenario unfold. And unfortunately, many individuals have been deeply hurt because of it. It has destroyed many good relationships. The Christian community, for the most part, does well at rallying together when one member is suffering. We reach out via fundraisers when a fire destroys a home. Meals are provided and sympathies are expressed when there’s a death in a family. Facebook and CaringBridge posts are shared when someone needs a miracle. We support, provide, pray, and weep.
But let me ask you, why is it so hard for us to do the other part? You know, the “rejoicing with those who rejoice.”
Yeah, that part.
It’s looks a bit like this…Someone from your church just builds a gorgeous new house. The location and the design is absolutely amazing…meanwhile, you’re struggling to pay your monthly rent. “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
A co-worker—who also happens to be your friend—gets a raise from your boss, but you don’t. “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
You would desperately love to have a baby, and in spite of many tests, prayers and tears, that dream is just not coming true. Then you find out two of your friends are pregnant again (and they weren’t even trying!).“Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
Your acquaintance or friend shares about what God has been doing in their flourishing ministry and how it has been growing. Meanwhile your ministry is in a slump and you’re fighting discouragement—how do you respond? “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
How about that relationship you’d love to have? There just haven’t been many prospects in your life, yet your friends are all getting married while you wonder if this dream will ever become a reality. “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
Can you relate with any of these scenarios? How do you respond when these things happen?
There’s an all to familiar Pharisaical response that typically happens. Because we don’t have what they do, we become judgmental and critical of them. And this can be about someone else’s house, position, relationships, reputation, possessions, or even ministry opportunities. But then usually the attacking begins…My friend, at the root of this lies a small, four letter word. You wouldn’t think it could do much damage, but it can wreak havoc. It’s a deadly little word that slips under most of our radars. We don’t recognize how hazardous it really is.
There it is. Most times we don’t like to admit when we’re feeling it, yet, envy has destroyed too many relationships. We all have struggled with it at some point in our lives, and this makes it extremely difficult to rejoice with others.
I’ve definitely experienced envy at times. And I’ve been hurt by those who’ve attacked because of envy in their lives. Envy is from the enemy and it destroys relationships. When we envy someone, we begin comparing ourselves and what we have with who they are and what they have. We try to copy what they’re doing so we can have what they have, when we should be allowing God to work out these details in our lives. It may not be God’s perfect will for you to do or have what someone else has, yet many times doors are pushed open because of envy.
God has been teaching me how to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. You see, as Christians, we should be excited for our sister who is blessed with a gorgeous new house. We should eagerly rejoice with the family who is welcoming that new baby. We should bless the ministry opportunities that others have or the talents of others that exceed our own. But this only happens as we recognize what envy looks like and deal with it as sin.
Each of us have our own struggles in life. Why would we ever think someone else has a perfect life and has it all together?
As I’m typing this blog, I’m propped up on the bed in the back of our motorhome. It’s taking me twice as long to type because of the bumping and bouncing that’s going on, and because I struggle with motion sickness. I’m surrounded by loud engine noises and wet hanging clothes in our tiny bedroom turned laundry room. I’m drained from several very full days of ministry, but we’re on the way to minister at another church this evening. Yet, I remember the looks on the faces of several individuals as my husband dropped me off at the front door of a store the other day. My daughter and I had a few minutes to pick up necessity items, so we were in a hurry, but the looks on their faces expressed, “Wow! Look at that big rig! Wouldn’t that be nice? What a life!”
I told my daughter…”If only they knew what it’s really like.” We are grateful and fulfilled in what God has called us to do, but it’s in no way the easy and glamorous life that it may look like to others. (My weak area of envy is when I try to imagine what it would be like to be at home long enough to have a garden, having scheduled school times (while not moving!) and not missing out on so many family and church activities at home.)
The next time the enemy tempts you to become envious and covet the life, relationships, or possessions of others, remember it’s not always as it appears. You may not see the years of hard work that made that raise possible. Or the loss someone experienced to receive the inheritance money they received. Maybe the woman with the perfect body is struggling with a health issue that you can’t see. And the friend that looks like she has everything may be struggling in her marriage. Maybe you wouldn’t want that ministry opportunity that you’re coveting if you saw the amount of sacrifice it took to make it possible.
My friend, envy destroys.“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Prov. 14:30) Envy will also begin destroying your relationship with God. When you can’t rejoice with someone who is blessed, you’re ultimately telling God that what He’s given you is not enough.
Envy is at the root of why we compare ourselves with others. May God help each of us begin to recognize the sin of comparison and envy so we can freely rejoice when others are more blessed in specific areas than we are. This is a true sign of spiritual maturity.
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)