Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep,” so says the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:15.
Paul’s words seem so simple. We might think that everyone would just naturally respond the way Paul described, but human nature proves otherwise.
The response that we have toward the circumstances of others reveals the nature of our own heart and mind. From the time of our youth, we grow up being very familiar with the concepts of both jealousy and sympathy. Two well known examples will do.
(Gen. 37:4) “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.”
(Mark 1:40-41) “Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’”
Joseph’s brothers hated him. They were jealous of what he had -- the loving favor of his father -- which they did not. They wished Joseph pain and ill will and eventually dished it out to him with their own hand. They did not rejoice with his good fortune. They did not sympathize when he was in pain. They were miserable and wanted him to share their misery.
All of us have feelings for our own pain. The concept of sympathy is to feel the pain of others. The response of Jesus toward the leper tells us about the Lord’s heart. He had tender feelings for this man’s trouble.
Jealous people have their internal responses backwards. Perhaps they feel unloved, unlucky, or left out. They may feel small and threatened by the success of others. Whatever the reason, being in pain themselves, they are pained by the good fortune of others. Sadly, they may actually rejoice at the pain and trouble of others. It is a very sad condition because when one finds joy in the suffering of others there is no happiness in anything in life.
There are also those who are happy when good things come to others. Likewise they are pained by the suffering of others. Compassion and sympathy bring a great blessing to those that possess them. Those who care about the well-being of others are themselves blessed with a peace and happiness that the jealous heart cannot even imagine.
- Tim Orbison