I’m convinced that one of the most difficult things that the Scripture asks us to do is found in Romans 12:15. That verse says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
Now the mourning part is not so hard. If there are those who are having a difficult time in life, going through trials and tribulations, we can usually muster up enough sympathy and empathy to hold their hand and provide a shoulder for them to cry on, maybe even to cry with them,and to pray for them during their difficulties.
But to “rejoice with those who rejoice” may be harder.
"It is, indeed, more difficult to congratulate another on his success, especially if his success involves disappointment to us, than it is to sympathize with his sorrow and his loss. It is only when self is dead that we can take as much joy in the success of others as in our own" (Barclay, p. 182). "
Now, it is pretty easy to rejoice at the wedding of a friend if you’re happily married. But if you’re single, and you’d like to be married; if you’re lonely and feel rejected, then an invitation to someone else’s wedding may be a pretty difficult thing to handle.
You drive an old car that’s showing its age, and then your neighbor buys a brand new SUV.
Your sister’s kids are all star athletes and honor students and yours act like juvenile delinquents.
Someone else at the office gets a promotion and a raise, and you don’t, even though you have seniority. It is kind of hard sometimes, isn’t it, to “rejoice with those who rejoice” ?
You see, one of the difficulties is that when something good happens to others, we often compare ourselves to them. “Well, I’m smarter than they are.” Or, “I work harder than they do.” Or, “They’re just lucky. They get all the breaks, and I don’t.”
Imagine that you are at an NFL game with a friend. You were given two free tickets to the Redskins game and so you invited him to go with you. These are the best seats you have ever had! You can’t believe your good fortune. It turns out to be a great game and they are winning big against the Cowboys and you have a great view of it all. With every big play , you and your friend jump up and rejoice together, high-fiving and cheering for the home team. You rejoice with those who rejoice. But then, between the third and fourth, a voice comes over the P.A. and announces that someone in the stadium is going to win a new house, a new car, a dream vacation. He announces the level, the section, the row. It is someone in your row! But when he reads the seat number you see that your friend is sitting in that seat. He has won. You have not. They were your tickets. You invited him. You just happened to sit the wrong seat. Technically, both are your seats. But he got the big prize package – you didn’t! Now how easy is it to rejoice with those who rejoice? Suddenly you are overwhelmed with feelings of anger, envy, discontentment. You pretend to be happy, but inside you mutter and complain. You hate your friend and want what he has been given.
To rejoice with others when they are rejoicing is a hard thing to ask. Especially when things aren't going as well with you. God is asking you to be as happy for others as you would be if the good thing was happening to you.
Are you able to do that?
If you can, it is an indication that God's sincere love is at work in you. If not, there is some work to be done.