I’ve been around church(es) for a long time now, so I’ve heard my fair share of references and reflections on Romans 12:15.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
The vast majority, if not all, of the references/reflections/sermons I’ve heard on this verse have to do with the second part, the mourning part.
Usually when something bad happens we like to say this as a reminder of our duty.
Mourning with people is extremely important.
Mourning with people exemplifies empathy, sympathy, and emotional intelligence, not to mention spiritual maturity and the sacrificial love of Jesus.
But, why haven’t I heard as many (if any) references/reflections/sermons on “rejoice with those who rejoice?”
And what does it even mean to rejoice with someone? Does that mean giving them a high-five, or a pat on the back when they are pumped about something good in their life? Or is it something deeper than that?
I think it is easier for us to mourn with those mourn.
Positively, pain binds us all together, so I think it can be easier to access those emotions and connect with someone experiencing pain.
Negatively, I think we get a sort of “hit” from coming alongside someone and walking with them through their pain. This is not necessarily bad, but I think mourning with someone puts us in a helping role, and we tend to feel good about ourselves when we help someone.
Sharing someone’s joy doesn’t give us quite the same sort of ego hit that mourning does.
I’ve found rejoicing with others to be really hard to do personally, and I’ve felt its absence, in my own experiences, in some pretty profound ways.
In a competitive world it can be hard when someone else achieves something, or reaches a new stage of life, or is just simply celebrating a level of success that we haven’t reached yet. Seeing someone else succeed might make us insecure about our state of life, or disappointed in what we haven’t accomplished.
In other words, rejoicing with others seems like a bigger test of character than mourning.
Rejoicing with others requires a true sense of humility. To truly share in someone else’s joy means that we are totally focused on the other. So focused that their joy becomes our joy.
And that’s hard to do.
But, this is one of my new life goals. To revel in their success and fun and excitement as much as I would my own.
I want to be great at rejoicing with those who rejoice.