Monday, November 9, 2009

The Successes of Others

I really do love to see other people succeed. Sometimes it can be as wonderful to be a supporter in the crowd as it is to be the person being cheered on. Just as a whole city will celebrate when its team wins a big game, sometimes someone else's success can seem like a broader victory for lots of people. Loving people means wanting good things for them, so I feel joy when I see the people I love being blessed.

Of course, the kind of joy I feel over others' good fortune is a pure kind of feeling, and it can sometimes be sullied by the darker side of my personality. When pride and jealousy kick in, I can start thinking about whether I deserve success or recognition more than someone else. I may feel bitter, questioning why the people I love struggle so much when some other people seem to find so much more success. I may even despair, feeling that I am trapped in an unfair and random world where I just have to watch some people succeed with no power to bring good things to myself or others. All of these feelings are comparative, however, and by setting myself up in opposition to other people who are enjoying success, I am missing a big truth: good gifts are meant to be shared.

When I feel joy because someone else has been blessed with good fortune, I'm being blessed too. Likewise, when I am joyful or at peace, I can pass those gifts on to the loved ones in my life. After all, we don't usually celebrate our successes all alone. We gather together our family and loved ones and celebrate together, spreading our joy to others and sharing some of our good fortune with them. I don't want to let my sinful, selfish nature stop me from receiving a share of the joy. I want to receive it and then continue passing it on to others.

The Bible speaks of Christians as one body. What is good for one of us benefits all of us in some way. This idea can really be expanded to all of humanity. God made all of us and calls us all his children, so we are all related in a special way. We are sharing this world together, and so the health of each person contributes to the health of the entire populace. We are surrounded by all kinds of different connections with the people around us, and each of those connections are conduits through which we can share blessings and joy. When peace comes to some far off corner of the world, we can all celebrate because we live in a more peaceful world. When my friends have success, I will be glad because their joy will make our relationship richer and more beautiful. When others come to Christ, I will rejoice gladly because they will make the body of Christ to which I belong stronger and more diverse.

When God promised Israel that He would bless them, He also promised to make them a blessing to all the nations. That is the wonderful thing about God's gifts—they benefit more than the direct recipient. So I wish each of you great joy and success, and I hope that you're able to share your good fortune with many, many people. When I hear about good things happening in your life, I'll be rejoicing for you and for the world that will share in  your happiness.

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