We live in a very covetous society.  Unfortunately, that attitude has become prevalent in the church.

We are told to rejoice with those who rejoice.  This is very easy, provided that others are not rejoicing over something we desire, yet have not obtained.

Perhaps the secretarial job at church has an opening.  You have secretly desired this job for several years.  You apply for the job and go through an interview, only to discover someone else got the job.  Can you rejoice with the lady who got the job you coveted?

Another scenario might be in coordinating a large function at church.  While you may not be the head of the committee, you have used a lot of your time and your talents to help this endeavor be successful.  When the leadership presents flowers and a generous gift to the lady who headed up the committee, can you rejoice with her as she is honored?  Or do you suddenly go green with envy?

How do you feel when the class you teach has a lower attendance than the mid-week women’s study?  Do you get jealous because the other class seems to thrive?  Do you feel bitterness because you feel others do not see any value in your class?

You may think, “Oh, what does she know?  She has never been in this situation!”  Oh, but I have!  I have taught Sunday school for several years.  For a short period of time, I was also teaching on Wednesday nights.

When the Wednesday night classes began to thrive under the leadership of another lady, it would have been easy for me to become jealous when her classes began to draw two to three times as many women as my class did.  I could have been bombarded with questions that threatened my sense of self-worth.  Instead, I was able to rejoice in her success.  What made the difference?

1. I know who I am in Christ, and it is not dependent upon how many people attend my classes.
2. Whether I succeed or fail has nothing to do with success of the other class.
3. I know God has gifted us differently.  While we both teach, her approach is much different than mine, and I enjoy sitting under her teaching.
4. My passion is for people to attend classes at church, whether it is my class or someone else’s.
5. By joyfully submitting myself to someone else’s teaching, I keep a teachable spirit.
6. By rejoicing in the success of her class, I have been able to embrace women who do not attend my class, and enjoy getting to know them.
7. By rejoicing in how God is using her, I can affirm and encourage her.

It boils down to what attitudes we choose.  King Saul chose to be jealous of David.  He refused to rejoice when the crowds praised David.  Instead, he became filled with bitter jealousy that led him to try and murder David.

It is no different for us.  If I refused to rejoice in the success of the other class, I would not have enjoyed the class, nor would I have the blessing of making some new friends.  I would have “murdered” what God wanted to do in me through the teachings there.  If I had become bitter, it would have “murdered” my ability to effectively teach my own class.

If I allowed envy to fill my heart, even if I did not speak critical things to her face, I likely would have spoken negative things against her teaching behind her back, “murdering” her character before other people.  Instead, by choosing to rejoice, my blessings are too numerous to count!

The choice is ours – we can choose to have a murderous attitude, like King Saul.  Or, we can do what the Word tells us – rejoice with those who rejoice. (Romans 12:15)
© 2007, Stacy R. Miller


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