Romans 12:15

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).

When a city’s football team wins the Super Bowl in the United States, there is typically a tremendous outpouring of collective joy on the part of those who live in the winner’s city. Impromptu parties often break out in the street. Men and women around the town will shout “We won!” even though they are not players on the team. At the same time, we do not usually see the fans of the losing team celebrating the victory of their opponents. Some of them will mope for days afterward even though the loss can in no way be viewed as a national tragedy. 

There is something in our fallen human nature that makes it extremely difficult to be glad when other people succeed, especially if their success seems to come at our expense. How many of us are truly happy when a co-worker receives the promotion we were hoping for? Is it not far easier to envy friends who are experiencing prosperity than it is to rejoice with them in their abundance?

Yet our Lord calls us to be joyful even in these circumstances. In fact, as we read in today’s passage, we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom. 12:15). Christians must be able to enter into the joy of others. We must empathize with those who rejoice.

Such empathy was a mark of Jesus’ life. The New Testament tells us He wept at the tomb of Lazarus, not because He feared He would never see His friend again, but because the faithless despair of those around Him saddened and outraged Him (John 11:28–35). He already said Lazarus would be raised, which would lead to great rejoicing (v. 11). Still, He felt the sorrow of Mary and Martha and shed tears because they were acting as if they had no hope.

Jesus’ ability to mourn with those who mourn indicates He is able to feel the joy of those around Him and rejoice as well (see also Zeph. 3:17). He is able to take His eyes off Himself and devote Himself to others. We can therefore look to Him to encourage us to put other people ahead of ourselves, forsaking our pride and accepting a place of service in the interest of others’ needs (Phil. 2:3). If we rejoice in the joy of others, we will surely live out Christ’s selfless joy each day.

Coram Deo

Many have used JOY as an acrostic to define our priorities. J is for Jesus, who comes first, then others (O), and finally, yourself (Y). If we put ourselves first, we will become selfish people, isolated and with little reason to rejoice. But if we put Jesus first and imitate Him in looking after the needs of others, we will find ourselves experiencing selfless joy more regularly. Take joy today in another’s success, even if you were unable to attain the goal he achieved.

For Further Study