As a parent, there are certain things that I am less desirous of doing than others, such as going to Costco as a family. Don’t get me wrong; I love being with my family and I love spending time with them. But Costco is usually busy, and when you have three young children, it’s just not that easy. I always tell my wife, Alyssa, that it is like trying to herd cats.
There have been successful trips to Costco and that is when we are all moving together with the same goal. We get in, have fun, and get the items we came for. Plus, the kids get to eat all the free samples!
In the same way, the church is made up of more than individual Christians; we are a body of believers that is called a family. We can easily start going our own way and doing our own thing. That is why Paul urges the church to be unified. He writes to the Philippian church, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:1–2 esv).
We are encouraged in the Bible to not only grow in our own faith, but also in how we interact with one another. This Christian life was never meant to be lived alone, but amongst people. There are different marks of a Christian that show that we are unified with other believers. We will look at one of those marks: rejoicing with one another.
In Romans 12, Paul tells us that one of the ways Christian unity is shown is by how we rejoice with those who rejoice (see Romans 12:15).
It is interesting that Paul said to rejoice with and not rejoice for. There are reasons we can rejoice for others. We can rejoice for the spouse, child, and friends God gave you. We can rejoice for the gifts and blessings from God you’ve received. But Paul said “rejoice with.” It implies a shared duty, to come alongside another. It means we are so actively involved with one another that when someone rejoices, we rejoice with them because it affects us too.
Where does rejoicing with others come from?
Rejoicing with others stems from the gospel.
The Good News of what Jesus Christ did for us, saving sinners, is what unites believers. We are those who have repented and have been forgiven and have been adopted into the family of God and we are called sons and daughters of God.
Knowing that a person went from death to life causes us to rejoice. Knowing that a person went from darkness into Christ’s marvelous light causes us to rejoice. Knowing that a person went from an enemy of God to a child of God causes us to rejoice!
This change is not just an earthly change; it changes one’s eternal destination. We rejoice in the fact that a person’s name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Rejoicing with others grows from thinking less of yourself.
Earlier in chapter 12 of Romans, Paul urges the believer to not think of himself more highly than he ought. Another way of saying this is, “Think of yourself less.”
When we are thinking of the interests of others and not only our own interests (Philippians 2:4), we are able to rejoice with others because we care.
As we think less of ourselves, we can care more and when we care more for others, we think less of ourselves. Do you want to grow in rejoicing with others? Think less of yourself and more about what the Lord is doing in the lives of His saints.
Rejoicing with others is not forced but genuine.
Genuine changes in a believer stem from a heart that has been changed by Jesus, and we actually do love others because we have been greatly loved.
The genuine, unconditional love that has been shown to you has also been given for you to have towards others. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7 esv).
When you have a genuine love for others, you are genuine in how you rejoice with them.
Rejoicing with others happens when we pray together.
What strengthens believers in unity? Well, one way is not only when you pray for others, but when you pray with each other. Praying with others unites our hearts on the same page with what God wants. This unity is greater than having the same favorite sports team or common interests. This unity is stronger than what will last in our earthly lifetime; this unity is forever.
Are you praying with others? Do you get to rejoice with others in what God is doing in them and through them? Let us rejoice with others!