When NOT to be joyful

Proverbs 24:17 is a tough verse for me. After sifting through so many verses talking about when and how to realize joy, this one seems a stark contrast. And it’s for that reason that I think it’s so important.

You see, Proverbs 24:17 challenges us, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles” (NASB).

And I will confess here and now that, when someone that doesn’t like me stumbles and/or falls, I have a natural inclination to jump up and down for joy. At the very least, I will take a moment of satisfaction that, finally, they got what was coming to them.

Oh, what a wretch I am!

Solomon’s warning is exactly what I need to hear all too often!

Because what I should be doing is loving my enemy, as Jesus loved me when I was His enemy. Loving them so that I actually mourn their hardship. Reach out my hand to help them. Sacrifice even myself to meet their needs.

So if there is one time that I should NOT be joyful, it’s when my enemy is being stricken. But as I contemplate this revelation, I am compelled to recognize that it’s not even that simple. I mean, how often have I lashed out at my enemies with words or actions? How often have I been the stumbling block that tripped them up?

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, there need to be consequences for actions. If someone steals or kills or <fill in the blank>, there are ramifications which need to happen. But I should never take pleasure in those consequences. I should never turn them over to the authorities flippantly, much less jubilantly!

Yes, I need to work on this!


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