If you asked me to share one verse that sums up how to live the "Christian life" when it comes to relationships, I would point to Romans 12:15 every time. Let me tell you from experience, most of the problems we have with other people (whether spoken or unspoken) come from not obeying this simple truth.
Rejoice with those who rejoice...
This sounds easier than it is. I mean, who doesn't enjoy having others celebrate with them over a new job promotion? Or a new house? Or a new baby? We tend to forget this verse when it's our turn to rejoice for someone else. Especially if the rejoicing comes when we are struggling to get a job, or buy a house or have a baby.
Envy creeps in and we begin to look at that person's joy as a killer of ours. Oh, how many times this has happened to me.
I specifically remember the feeling I used to get every time a friend announced they were pregnant... when we had been trying for over a year. It was a dagger in my heart. And I spent many nights crying over someone else's joy.
I was wrong. I was hurting. But, I was still wrong. It wasn't the other person's fault and I should have been rejoicing over their blessing. Of course, it's easier for me to say now that I'm on the other side. But that's the thing - we could all find ourselves on the other side one day, wishing others to rejoice with us.
... and weep with those who weep.
Pain and suffering scare people. And when our greatest fears turn into a close friend's reality, we often shy away. Afraid of what may come out of our mouths or in some cases, what may not. We live at a close distance, offering our condolences and the "here if you need me" statements, when... of course, they need you.
They need you to be the friend you always have been.
This struggle is hardest for me when I am experiencing joy in an area where someone else may be suffering. Because sometimes, in order to genuinely weep with them, I need to squelch my joy. It's caring enough to understand that it's not about my happiness in that moment, but about their pain.
A living sacrifice.
Our lives are like a pendulum swaying back and forth between these two emotions. And often times we find it easier to rejoice when we are rejoicing and weep when we are weeping. Like the saying, "misery loves company" we tend to be blinded by our own circumstances and forget to love others in spite of them.
What makes this verse even more important is the context in which it is placed.
It is found in Romans 12, which is titled in my bible (and maybe yours too!) as the chapter devoted to being a "A Living Sacrifice." Everything leading up to this verse is focused on being the opposite of what our sinful, fleshly nature desires. And I don't find it ironic (because nothing in Scripture for me is coincidence) that the verse right before it says to, "Bless those who persecute you." A command that is so easy to gloss over on a page, and so very hard to put into practice.
None of this is easy for us to do on our own strength. It is an act of worship. We worship the Lord by giving our bodies to Him as a sacrifice. We worship the Lord by loving those who say mean things about us. We worship the Lord by working enthusiastically at all we do. We worship the Lord by hating what is evil. We worship the Lord by genuinely loving people. We worship the Lord by rejoicing and weeping with others whenever they need it.
I just want to challenge you today, friends, with something I have been striving to live out in my own life. Take notice of those who are rejoicing and rejoice with them! Take notice of those who are weeping and weep with them. Let this be your act of worship. It will blow your mind how much this changes your relationships with people. And even better, how much you feel the Holy Spirit at work in your life.