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Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice

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The apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 Romans 12:15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
American King James Version×
). Paul may have meant the first part of verse 16—“Be of the same mind toward one another”—as the same subject. For example, when a companion has a mind to rejoice, try to have that same mind.

Romans 12:15 Romans 12:15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
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is not a mere suggestion. 

Of those two commands, which of them is generally more natural to do? Before I thought much about this question, I assumed the rejoicing would be easier. But typically not so. For many people, sympathizing with the sorrowful is more natural and automatic. Keep in mind that Paul is not referring to our own joys and sorrows. The issue is this: How do you react to another person’s joys and sorrows?

What initially changed my thinking? It was reading the following in one of my Bible commentaries: “Of the two [commands], however, it is more easy to sympathize with another’s sorrows than his joys, because in the one case he needs us; in the other not” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown). 

Because of human nature, we could think of other possible factors. Because of selfishness, we can lack the interest and patience to listen another’s good news. Because of jealousy, we might even feel self-pity rather than joy when hearing of another person’s good fortune.

Of course, true Christians are called to replace selfish human nature with “love your neighbor as yourself.” In 1 Corinthians 12, the members of the Church are compared with the interdependent “members” of the human body to illustrate our critical need for a team mindset and mutual support for one another. Verse 26 says “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

You not only encourage a person when you rejoice with him, you actually increase his joy, so it is an act of love! Trying to celebrate alone is never much of a celebration. This is one reason why Sabbaths and Holy Days and other opportunities for church fellowship and group worship are so important! We can better celebrate God and His blessing when we are together! Many scriptures tell us to gather together and “rejoice before the Lord” and “rejoice in the Lord!”

God dearly loves us and sets the example—He rejoices over us! Zephaniah wrote, God “will rejoice over you with gladness . . . He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17 Zephaniah 3:17The LORD your God in the middle of you is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over you with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over you with singing.
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).

In return, we must continually express our gratitude and joy to God for His countless blessings. Jesus told His disciples their greatest reason to rejoice: “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20 Luke 10:20Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
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). 

To rejoice means to express joy!

The word “joy” is in the New King James Bible 158 times and the word “rejoice” is there 199 times! Thus God has made it clear that having joy and expressing our joy (rejoicing) are super important! That’s partly because joy is contagious. Happy people are uplifting and edifying—they influence others to be positive and happy. Daily news is largely depressing. We need to cheer one another up.

Joy greatly depends on gratitude. A contented and joyful person is one who focuses on what he has rather than what he does not have. He has a positive attitude of looking at a glass as half-full rather than half-empty. A joyful person gives other people a lot of credit for his blessings and he especially gives God the primary credit. Remember that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights!” (James 1:17 James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss, neither shadow of turning.
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). Paul wrote, “Rejoice always . . . give thanks in all circumstances” (Romans 5:16 Romans 5:16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses to justification.
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, 18, English Standard Version).

Sadly, some people even neglect to express joy and gratitude for their own blessings. On the other hand, many not only celebrate their special occasions, like a wedding or baptism, but also invite others to join them in those celebrations. These are delightful experiences!

God clearly wants His people to genuinely rejoice over the blessings of other people, especially our families, fellow church members and friends (see Galatians 6:9-10 Galatians 6:9-10 [9] And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. [10] As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.
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). Be supportive! Be glad! Enjoy what they are enjoying! Don’t “rain on their parades.” Applaud and promote their parades! Be a cheerleader!

And, parents, be sure to teach your children all about these principles and practices! Be sure to be joyful role models and establish happy family traditions. Some stories and songs are helpful for children. Some examples: If You’re Happy (“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!”), When You’re Smiling (“When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.) or Don’t Worry—Be Happy.

Actions are more important than feelings

God’s Word makes it clear that actions are more important than feelings and emotions. Love is to be expressed with action, and joy is to be expressed with action. Rejoicing and celebrating can include conversing, reminiscing, singing, playing or listening to music, praying, clapping, laughing, dancing, decorating, etc.!

In fact, consider looking up all the scriptures that have the word “rejoice” or similar words. It is fascinating how often they suggest literal actions! “Shout joyfully to the Lord . . . break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises . . . with the harp . . . with trumpets and the sound of a horn” (Psalms 98:4-6 Psalms 98:4-6 [4] Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. [5] Sing to the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. [6] With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
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). “Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!” (Psalms 150:4 Psalms 150:4Praise him with the tambourine and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
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).

There are many ways to congratulate someone. Say “Congratulations,” or shake hands. Give a thumbs up, a pat on the back or a high-five. Consider sending your friend a congratulations card or a congratulatory email.

In some circumstances, you can offer to help a companion celebrate by suggesting you go out to eat together. You might offer to pay for the meal. For special occasions, you and others might arrange a party to celebrate in a big way.

How do our attitudes compare with those in Luke 15?

Luke 15 is a very inspiring chapter about God’s amazing grace and forgiveness. 

In verses 1-10, Jesus tells two important parables to emphasize how much God wants to forgive and save every single person. “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10 Luke 15:10Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
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). 

The two parables are logical and excellent illustrations, but, very sadly, they seem quite unrealistic in this 21st century. The two stories portray people as having close relationships with their neighbors and as having confidence that their neighbors will have enthusiastic interest in their successes and blessings. But today’s society is different in many ways. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3 that that “in the last days . . . men will be lovers of themselves . . . unthankful . . . unloving, unforgiving . . . brutal . . . haughty . . . ” (verses 1-4). 

First, compare Luke 15:3-7 Luke 15:3-7 [3] And he spoke this parable to them, saying, [4] What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? [5] And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. [6] And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. [7] I say to you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
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with how a sheep rancher with the wrong mindset might react if one sheep strayed away. “That really irritates me that that sheep wandered off! Well, I still have 99 sheep so I can afford to lose one once in a while. I’m not going to waste my time searching all over it! And if I did find it, I would still be in a bad mood. And if I found it, I wouldn’t tell my neighbors about it because they wouldn’t care about what happens to my sheep. And I wouldn’t even bother to tell my friends because they would regard my contacting them about this as uninteresting and wasting their time.”

Regarding the second parable in Luke 15:8-10 Luke 15:8-10 [8] Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, does not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? [9] And when she has found it, she calls her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. [10] Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
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about a woman searching for and finding a lost coin, we can easily imagine a very different mindset today that what Jesus described.

What is the main point of analyzing these two parables? The more selfish, self-centered and self-pitying we are, the less likely we are to sincerely rejoice with those who rejoice. As this world strays farther and farther from God, people’s attitudes and reactions are less and less like those that Jesus described.

So as God’s people, we must continually resist the constant bad influences surrounding us and stay close to God! I have to examine myself. Would I look diligently for the lost sheep and do it with a patient, caring and compassionate attitude? Do I strive to have a close relationship with my friends and neighbors? If my neighbor found a lost sheep, would I want to hear about it and rejoice with him?

Consider the instructive parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 Luke 15:11-32 [11] And he said, A certain man had two sons: [12] And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. And he divided to them his living. [13] And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. [14] And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. [15] And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. [16] And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave to him. [17] And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you, [19] And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants. [20] And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. [21] And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son. [22] But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: [23] And bring here the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: [24] For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. [25] Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. [26] And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. [27] And he said to him, Your brother is come; and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound. [28] And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. [29] And he answering said to his father, See, these many years do I serve you, neither transgressed I at any time your commandment: and yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: [30] But as soon as this your son was come, which has devoured your living with harlots, you have killed for him the fatted calf. [31] And he said to him, Son, you are ever with me, and all that I have is yours. [32] It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this your brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
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. If I had a wild and wasteful brother who finally came home, would I wholeheartedly rejoice and want to celebrate? Or would I be like the brother in the parable who was unforgiving, jealous and self-pitying? We can apply these lessons to many different situations today. We also have to be on guard against being self-satisfied and self-righteous because we are making the mistake of judging ourselves by how we compare with others instead of God’s perfect standards (see Luke 18:9-14 Luke 18:9-14 [9] And he spoke this parable to certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: [10] Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. [11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. [12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. [13] And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.
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and 2 Corinthians 10:12 2 Corinthians 10:12For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
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). 

In summary, what a monumental blessing that God’s Word teaches us to love—and how to love! Jesus teaches us to be God-centered and other-centered instead of self-centered. And if we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will rejoice with them when they are rejoicing! 

This is the second in a two-part series covering Romans 12:15 Romans 12:15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
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— "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” The first article, Weep With Those Who Week, can be found here: ucg.org/members/united-news/weep-with-those-who-weep.

 

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