With those who rejoice

Sometimes, I am a most self-centered person. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. I expect that the whole world should revolve around me and share my perspective and my emotions on the subjects of life, the universe, and everything. Now, this is not all the time, but particularly when I’m down, disappointed, discouraged, disheartened, etc., I tend to focus on me. And expect everyone else to do the same. But in Romans 12:15, the apostle Paul took that attitude of mine to task with a seemingly simple statement: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”

Now, at first glance, this seems simple enough. I mean, even in my most selfish moments, I expect that someone else would rejoice when I rejoice and weep when I weep. Remember, the whole world revolves around me. So I embrace this command in such cases as others will share in whatever it is that I feel.

But that’s not what Paul was saying. And the rest of the world is not who Paul was talking to.

No, the apostle to the Gentiles was addressing me. Giving instruction to me. And that instruction was simple: I should rejoice with those who rejoice, and I should weep with those who weep. Even if I’m not in the mood to rejoice. And even if I really don’t want to weep.

In short, I should sympathize with the people around me, but it’s not just a matter of being a copycat and jumping on the bandwagon. Rather, it’s a matter of focus. See, this whole section of Romans 12 deals with how I should relate with other people: I should focus on them. And so the whole matter of rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep is a matter of valuing others the way Jesus did.

Indeed, did Jesus not weep when at Lazarus’ death even though He knew He was about to raise the man again from the grave?

I need to pay attention to the people around me, particularly their moods. I need to care what they’re feeling. And if they’re joyful, that should bring me joy. And if they’re sorrowful, I should be, too.

Indeed, humans were designed to be social, and Christian faith is maximized in fellowship. And the only way for that to really happen is if I pay attention and share with my brothers and sisters – and anyone else – in whatever it is that they’re feeling.

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