Rejoicing With the More Fortunate

“The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing – the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing – to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice…” (Frederick Buechner in The Magnificent Defeat, as quoted by Francis Chan in Crazy Love, p. 132)

The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing…”

Ouch! I must confess there have been times when I’ve heard of the success of another pastor and I have not rejoiced. Why couldn’t I celebrate the news that the Kingdom of God had advanced through another pastor? This is a terrible thing! An honest appraisal of my lack of rejoicing exposes the presence of envy, even jealousy. The apostle Paul encouraged his Roman readers to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15) I find it much easier to comply with the second half of that challenge than the first half! I can feel sorry for a pastor who’s struggling, but to be happy for a pastor who’s seeing success is often another matter.

Plotting my own perceived position among others who pastor can become the objective rather than advancing God’s kingdom through the people I pastor. We’re supposed to be in this together! How dark the soul! It’s a reminder of my constant need of the grace and mercy of the Christ I follow and proclaim.

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