Romans 12:9-21 in my Bible is titled: Marks of a True Christian.
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another […]
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
I blogged after Christmas about my miscarriages and some of what God had taught me through that. Additionally, with the first miscarriage, God taught me how to “weep with those who weep.” (I’m not going to discuss it on this post, but for a good resource on mourning with hurting people, see here.)
This time around, God has been teaching me how to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” I’m ashamed to admit this, but it didn’t come naturally for me to get excited for those who are happily pregnant, who automatically assume their pregnancy will result in a baby when my average is that it will not.
But I didn’t want to be this way. Not just because envy is sin against God, but because I didn’t want to be the person who people are afraid to tell their good news to. I want to bear the marks of the true Christian in Romans 12, and be like my sister-in-law, who when TSH and I got engaged, was really excited and gave me a “welcome to the family” gift bag. It included, among things I forget, yellow socks (wearing them now–though they are pretty worn), peanut brittle (family joke), and a sweet card. She was twelve years older than TSH and still single at the time, but she didn’t let that stop her from truly rejoicing with us.
Here is how I set out to become a rejoicer:
The first 3 points dealt with the root sin.
1. Confess my envy.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5)
14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3)
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1)
To be honest, I don’t even like saying the word “envy,” but just as with the ABCs of salvation, admitting the sin is the first step.
2. Memorize Romans 12:9-18.
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4)
13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (I Thessalonians 2)
3. Pray for God to change my heart.
4 As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you! (Psalm 41)
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4)
The next three points take C.S. Lewis’s advice in Mere Christianity:
“Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.”
4. Pray for the friends I envy.
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints […] (Ephesians 6)
As you pray for your friends, you will rejoice to see God answer those prayers.
5. Send a card.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (I Thessalonians 5)
2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15)
No matter how broke you are, you are still able to write a note rejoicing with a friend. If you’re really, really broke, send an email.
6. Make a gift. Give a gift.
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12)
13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12)
Lately I’ve been making reusable cloth nursing pads for pregnant people (patterns here and here), but gift bags of yellow socks and peanut brittle work too. Or in the baby situation, you could go with mobiles or the more traditional baby clothes :). Making something for someone else takes more time, but it does make me really look forward to them using it.
7. Look for and be thankful for gifts God gives me.
6 I will sing unto the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13)
19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. (Psalm 68, KJV)
Look for God’s gifts in your own life, and you will find them, and you will feel blessed. Here’s a resource. (I have not read this book yet, so I cannot vouch for it, but it has good reviews.)
I’m not going to claim that I won’t struggle with envy from here on out, but it’s definitely been easier, and I am looking forward to celebrating more and more blessings God bestows on my friends and family. Seriously, I want to rejoice with you! Please send me an email or call me if you have good news to share!
Let me know if these ideas help you or if you have other ideas!
(P. S. Most of the Bible verses are from the ESV, unless otherwise noted.)