Summary: This message focuses on Romans 12:15-16.
A Living Sacrifice To God
Scriptures: Romans 12:15-16
This message is the conclusion of my series “A Living Sacrifice To God.” In this message we will look at verses fifteen and sixteen.
Some of you know that I like the cartoon “Calvin and Hobbes” by Bill Watterson. If you have ever read the stories of Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes then you know that he is not a typical child. Calvin is an only child and with his imagination, his stuffed tiger Hobbes is truly alive. I remember one of the stories I read where Calvin was standing at the bus stop in a very foul mood. He was not having a good morning and it showed on his face. As he waited for the bus, his friend Susie walks up all cheery and happy and speaks to Calvin. Calvin, being in his foul mood, angrily snaps at Susie. Susie cannot understand why Calvin snaps at her so she snaps back. Now both of them are standing at the bus stop in a really foul mood. In the last scene of the script you see Calvin standing there smiling as he thinks “nothing helps a bad mood like sharing it!” Calvin felt better after making someone else feel as bad as he was feeling. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever done this? If you have ever done this then this morning you will discover that your actions are the opposite of what Paul says in verse fifteen of Roman’s chapter twelve. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
In the first half of verse fifteen Paul writes, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice...” It means something when you can share with others something good that happens in your life. I mean, to be able to share something with someone who will rejoice with you is important. This person could be a family member or friend but they understand why you are rejoicing and they choose to rejoice with you. This is not the person who would be negative when you are rejoicing. This is not the person who would “rain on your parade” as you excitedly share the good news which has you excited. No, this person would be excited with you and help you rejoice. They may even think of other people for you to call to join in the rejoicing. This is what Paul was talking about as it relates to how we interact with others when they are experiencing both good and bad times. He was talking about empathy. Empathy is “the ability to identify with and understand somebody else's feelings or difficulties.” You can show empathy both when you rejoice with someone and when you are hurting with someone. Empathy is about understanding what someone else is feeling and joining in with them so they do not have to go through the experience alone.
This verse tells us that when someone shares good news with us about something happening within their life we should not respond with a lack of enthusiasm. We should be excited for them. I have been excited before and shared my excitement with someone who was not excited for me. Not only were they not excited for me, they were not happy that I was being blessed. Have you been there? While these feeling are sometimes associated with jealousy they are also often associated with what is happening in the individual’s life. Sadly, I have been on both sides and I can tell you that raining on someone’s parade or having them rain on our parade feels good. It is a truth that it is sometimes difficult to be excited for someone else when you’re not in a good place in your own life? What Paul is telling us is that regardless of what is going on in my life I need to get my focus off me and rejoice with them that do rejoice. This is an important emotional response that Christians should have for others. This response demonstrates maturity in spiritual growth as we acknowledge the experiences of someone else. So if someone comes to us and are rejoicing about something wonderful happening in their life, we must set aside our own personal feelings about what we are dealing with to be able to join in with them in their rejoicing. This is not something that can be faked. We have to do this sincerely from our hearts.
The word “rejoice” is from the Greek word chairo and it means “to be glad, to be full of joy, or to be elated.” Now understand this, the word “rejoice” is a command, not a suggestion! Have you ever notice how people read some things in the Bible as suggestions or recommendations versus as a command? If it is something they agree with and is easy to do then it could be interpreted as a command. However, if it is something that is difficult to do or something that goes against what they want to do, then it’s viewed as more of a suggestion or recommendation. What we are reading here is a command. So when Paul says we should rejoice “with” them that rejoice, he was commanding us to join the person(s) in their rejoicing. Now what does this rejoicing look like?