Can We Genuinely Rejoice Over Another’s Success? Only if We Know Ourselves to be Loved…

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Psalm 20 – 4/7/17

“May [the Lord] grant you your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your plans.
May we shout for joy over your victory,
And in the name of our God set up our banners.
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.”

–Psalm 20:4-5

Devoted family.  True friends.  Genuine community.  In other words, people who really, really love you and want what’s best for you.  Those are the people I can imagine saying those words–and meaning them.

Because I feel in them a sincere desire for the well-being of the “you” who’s being spoken to here.  I sense a profound genuineness behind the prayer that God will grant that person’s deepest desire, that his or her plans will be fulfilled.  When the hope is expressed that “we” (those represented by the speaker) will “shout for joy over your victory,” the sense I get is that of an eager anticipation of that joy, an excited and almost impatient expectation of celebrating with that person, for her or his triumph….

What I’m not getting is any sense of jealousy, or resentment, or competition, or comparison….  I don’t get a sense of half-hearted joy, dampened by unspoken feelings of “Well, that’s great for her, but why didn’t I get my heart’s desire??”  It doesn’t feel like the “shout[ing] for joy over your victory” will have any undercurrents of “I deserved it more than she did!” or “Do you know what I heard he did to get that?” or “It’s nice that she got what she wanted, but it’s even nicer that he didn’t get it!”  There’s none of that.  This feels completely genuine.  It seems deeply sincere.  It strikes me as the kind of thing found among loving families, true friends, authentic community.

I’d like to think it’s the kind of thing that marks a group as being followers of Christ–people who can truly rejoice with you when there’s cause for rejoicing.  I’d like to think it’s the kind of thing that sets followers of Christ apart–not only the genuine rejoicing, but even, as in this case, truly hoping and praying that you will have cause for rejoicing, that you will get what you are hoping for in your heart of hearts!  And not necessarily because they’ve gotten all they’re hoping for, and they hope you do, too.  Not because there’s anything in it for them if your plans are fulfilled.  Not even because it’s the “right” thing to do or the “right” way to feel.  But simply because you are loved, truly and deeply.  And because they know themselves to be loved, truly and deeply.  That is what allows them to love without jealousy, without envy, without competition or comparison.  That is what allows them to love genuinely, sincerely, authentically.  That is what allows them to love, and love freely.

As he sent them out to minister, Jesus said to his disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give.” (cf. Matthew 10:8b).

Only when we have freely received God’s love can we freely give God’s love.  Only when we know ourselves to be truly and deeply loved can we truly and deeply love others.  Only when we truly and deeply love others can we sincerely pray, like David, for their profound well-being and the granting of their deepest desires; and only then can we genuinely rejoice at their victories!

God,  in the claiming of our identities as people walking in the path of Love-Above-All, as lived and taught by Jesus, open us to freely receive so that we might not only freely give but truly and deeply rejoice!
Amen.

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