A neglected command? Rejoice with those who rejoice.

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[This is a slightly edited re-blog from Dec 2011.]

Romans 12:15 instructs us to: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  As Christians, we should have an empathetic love for others, and be able to enter into their joys and sorrows.

Certain types of hardship can make others uncomfortable, and people may avoid the suffering person – but I personally find that to be more of an exception. I think most people are good at mourning with those who mourn. I’ve seen people come out of the woodwork to assist someone going through a difficult time. Many seem willing to step forward and come along side the suffering person.

But are we as good at rejoicing with those who rejoice?

My answer would be no!

Sadly, I think we can be prone to envy, jealousy, anger or self-pity when we see things going well for others. Our feelings may be overt, or subtle and a bit suppressed beneath the surface. We may start to avoid the person.

I’ve heard several successful people talk about the loneliness of success. And these successful people were definitely not haughty, but down-to-earth, despite all they had going for them. Yet, many of their friends had drifted away.

I think we sometimes see “successful” people in an unfair light. We assume they must be strong, secure, confident, and in need of nothing. But success can bring heavy responsibilities, pressures, and doubts. Successful people can struggle with insecurity just like the rest of us.

Successful people can end up in one-way relationships, always giving of themselves or ministering to others, but never being on the receiving end.

Success can be a two-edged sword.

Even someone successful needs friendship. Even someone with life going their way needs a word of encouragement or a helping hand from time to time.

While we definitely shouldn’t forget those who are suffering, we shouldn’t forget the successful either! Enter into the sorrows and joys of those around you.