Summary: I’m convinced that one of the most difficult things that the Scripture asks us to do is found in Romans 12:15. That verse says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (PowerPoints available - #184)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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ILL. It’s Thanksgiving Day & the aroma of roast turkey fills Charlie Brown’s house. Snoopy, outside, lying on top of his doghouse, smells that aroma, & he is thinking, “It’s Thanksgiving Day. Everybody eats turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” So he lies there, watching the back door, eagerly awaiting his Thanksgiving dinner.
Finally, the door opens & here comes Charlie Brown with a bowl of dog food, & he puts the bowl on the ground. Snoopy stares at the dog food with a forlorn look on his face. And he thinks, “Just because I’m a dog, I have to eat dog food on Thanksgiving Day.”
Then the next square shows him looking at the dog food more intently, & he is thinking, “It could be worse. I could be the turkey.”
A. The Thanksgiving season fills us with all kinds of emotions. It’s a time when we count our blessings, & bow our heads in prayer. For many, it is a time of family & friends & food & football.
It’s also a time of sharing, of realizing that there are many in this world who are persecuted, destitute, starving, helpless in the hands of cruel & uncaring tyranny.
That’s one reason why groups such as IDES (International Disaster Emergency Services), are so essential in reaching out to those who are desperately in need of help. And in a smaller way, we here at Ridge Chapel also reach out to help some of those around us who are in need.
And I imagine that most of us, at Thanksgiving time, think about those who are less fortunate than we are. Then we count our blessings & we pray, “God, we have so much, & we’re thankful for everything You have given us.”
B. But this morning I’d like to turn things around & ask you to think about those who have more than we have, & instead of envying them, to challenge us to rejoice.
You see, I’m convinced that one of the most difficult things that Scripture asks us to do is found in Romans 12:15. That verse says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
Now the mourning part is not so hard. If there are those who are having a difficult time in life, going through trials & tribulations, we can usually muster up enough sympathy & empathy to hold their hand & provide a shoulder for them to cry on, maybe even to cry with them, & to pray for them during their difficulties.
But to “rejoice with those who rejoice” may be harder.
Now, it is pretty easy to rejoice at the wedding of a friend if you’re happily married. But if you’re single, & you’d like to be married; if you’re lonely & feel rejected, then an invitation to someone else’s wedding may be a pretty difficult thing to handle.
You drive an old car that’s showing its age, & then your neighbor buys a brand new SUV. Someone else gets a promotion & a raise, & you don’t. It is kind of hard sometimes, isn’t it, to “rejoice with those who rejoice” ?
C. You see, one of the difficulties is that when something good happens to others, we often compare ourselves to them. “Well, I’m smarter than they are.” Or, “I work harder than they do.” Or, “They’re just lucky. They get all the breaks, & I don’t.”
ILL. The story is told of two writers who were very jealous of each other, & their animosity was apparent. Then one of them wrote a book that was quite success-ful. In fact, it was a best seller, & he was widely acclaimed.
The two came face to face at a party, & the second man said, “I bought your book the other day. It’s a good book. Who wrote it for you?”
Angered a bit by this insult, the first man nevertheless thanked him for the compliment about his book, & then asked, “Who read it to you?”
It’s not always easy to rejoice with those who rejoice. But that’s what I want to talk about this morning because when we start comparing ourselves with others, that can lead to discontent & envy, grumbling & broken relationships.
ILL. We see it happen in the sports world. Here is a player who is making millions of dollars – has 5 cars, 2 houses, & the list goes on. He has it made. He’s happy & contented, isn’t he?
Then he discovers that someone else who plays the same kind of position he does is making more money than he makes. What’s the result? - Discontent, envy, grumbling, & broken relationships.