When Love is Real - How do we respond when someone else succeeds (and we don't?)
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15)
Sometimes I read a devotional and think, “Ouch - that really hits home!” I have a daughter who is almost seven, and a son who is three and a half. Both kids are in a phase when suddenly everything is “not fair!” Just this morning I was dropping my daughter off at school - she was carrying her Valentine’s cards in one plastic shopping bag, her snow clothes in another, and as usual had her backpack on. As she exited the minivan and I began to pull away, I suddenly heard a whine from the backseat, “Daddy, that’s not fair! Sissy gets 2 bags - that’s not fair!” I couldn’t help but chuckle and told my son, “AJ, you really have no idea buddy!”
As most of us have figured out by now, life isn’t fair. Often others succeed or seem to get ahead when we don’t. Others are rewarded for their efforts when ours are overlooked. Someone else gets recognition while we feel left out. Try as we might to pretend otherwise, this reality can really sting, and to make matters worse, sometimes the one getting the benefits while we feel left out can be a close friend or family member, which makes the sting even more intense.
Romans 12 is probably my favorite chapter in the whole Bible; verse 15 says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." The latter is not so hard for me to do; the former - particularly when I feel as though I’ve been slighted or overlooked - can be very difficult. I see in my kids the same struggles I had at their age and wonder if it is in some way the “sins of the father” passed along to the next generation, simply the general influence of original sin, or a combination of the both.
Earlier in Romans 12:12 Paul says, “Let love be genuine.” Situations like this really put that to the test, don’t they! Max Lucado talks about this in his devotional titled “When Love is Real” - he shares the story from his youth of making a new friend in his neighborhood and encouraging him to try out for the football team - only to have him take his spot on the team. He shares that he tried to be happy for him, but found it very difficult. I would find it difficult as well. Max then shared the key verse from Romans 12:15, and finished with these 2 questions: You want to plumb the depths of your love for someone? How do you feel when that person succeeds?
Like I said, “Ouch!” I don’t know about you, but I want to grow in love! I know the only way I can do it is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and let his love enable my own feeble love to become genuine and true.