Read 1 Samuel 18:5-16 to learn what happens when envy rules our lives.
Do you find it easier to rejoice with others’ blessings or to weep with their misfortune? Why? What needs to change in your perspective for you to genuinely want others to succeed?
A student was praising one of my colleagues, and I was glad to hear it. This student had been critical of the professor, so I was pleased that she now saw what I already knew. But when she said that the professor’s class was her favorite, I felt a twinge of sadness. Why not mine? I had cheered for my colleague when he was maligned, but now that his class was perceived as better, I felt sorry for myself. It was easy to “weep with those who weep,” but to “be happy with those who are happy” (Romans 12:15) would require an act of God.
I may be unusually depraved, but this is why I think I would be happier working in hospice or an unemployment office than as maître d’ in an upscale restaurant. In the first case, I would go home feeling comparatively better about myself. I would have troubles, but at least I’d have my health and a job. Conversely, I might become discouraged as I daily served those whose wealth provides opportunities that I will never experience. Why them and not me?
Paul tells me how to overcome my selfishness and rejoice with those who rejoice. First, I must give myself to God (Romans 12:1). I must run to Him for significance and security rather than to the accolades and opinions of others. When I allow God to satisfy me, I can be genuinely happy for others’ good fortune, for I don’t need what they have received.
Second, I must give myself to others. Paul commands, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them” (Romans 12:9). When I find my fulfillment in God, I am free to serve others. I no longer view them as competitors but as targets for the grace of God flowing through me. I want them to succeed. And I won’t be happy until they do.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 25:1-30
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