- It's a familiar scenario: Your best friend from college
has just announced her engagement, your co-worker just got
a promotion, and your next-door neighbor just bought a new,
fully loaded SUV.
Is your first reaction a pang of jealousy? Is it that self-pitying,
why-not-me response? How about this one: It's not fair that someone
I know just got what I wanted.
Now, obviously, these are not the appropriate Christian responses
to the success of someone you know. The correct response is to sincerely
congratulate that blessed individual. But there are times that we
just don't want to be happy for others. In fact, we may even feel
justified in withholding our blessing because we think we haven't
been blessed enough.
For years I was threatened by the success of others, erroneously
believing that someone else's success would somehow undermine my success,
especially if that person had similar goals to mine. It grated on
my nerves that my peers were getting high-paying jobs in their field
of study right out of graduate school without much effort. It grated
on my nerves that someone I knew got chosen to sing a solo in church
instead of me. It grated on my nerves that people I considered unprepared
and unworthy for marriage got blessed with a new mate. I wanted to
stand up on my soap box and shout, "Hey, you just stole my dream!"
I no longer wanted to hang around these people, because it reminded
me of how unsuccessful I thought I was. In my overly competitive mind,
I reasoned that I was a failure, because the other person was a success.
And so these wonderful, achieving individuals became my enemies. I
avoided them at all costs to soothe my self-esteem. Talk about insecure!
I was so bound by my jealousy that I couldn't be happy for anyone.
But over the span of thirty long years -- it's embarrassing to admit
it has taken me this long -- I have learned that just because someone
else gets a blessing doesn't mean my blessing will get forfeited.
Another's success doesn't cancel out my success.
That's because God does not play favorites when it comes to blessing
His children. In Psalm 5:12 it says, "For surely, O Lord, you bless
the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield."
Though the timing may not be what we expect, nor the blessing be what
we think, He nonetheless blesses us. Do you believe that? It's true.
In fact, I can say without a doubt that God has already blessed you.
Seem audacious? If you have a home, a car, money for groceries, and
some close friends, you are blessed.
And even if you don't have these things, if you are following the
Lord, you are still blessed, because the Bible says you are a child
of God (1 John 3:1), you are redeemed (Psalm 71:23), you are chosen
(Ephesians 1:11). According to Ephesians 2:10, "[You] are God's workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance
for [you] to do." He who began a good work in you will carry
it out until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). With that
said, you and I are free to bestow blessings on others, knowing that
our blessings from God are assured.
To be happy for another is not just a choice, it's a good choice.
And more than that, it's a God choice, for the Bible commands us to
love our neighbor as ourselves. The Bible mentions this principle
often (see Leviticus 19:18, Romans 13:9, and James 2:8). As it says
in Galatians 5:14, the whole law can be summed up by this one command.
That's powerful stuff!
Blessing others is such a simple principle, you would think it would
be easy to implement. However, there are times when being truly happy
for another is challenging. That is because we are required to
die to ourselves. Death to our own nature is painful, but having God
resurrect in us His character and His ways is true life indeed! Expect
when you decide to bless others that it may not feel natural at first.
You might want to take back your blessing when, after praying for
others, they actually succeed in their endeavors. Jealousy may try
to take a foothold. But don't give up. Repent of any ill feelings,
and then continue to bless and allow God to work on your bad attitude.
He will change it as you obey Him.
The interesting thing about this blessing business is that when we
practice it consistently, we end up getting blessed. When our best
friend succeeds in his or her career, we can genuinely share in that
excitement. It is not just our friend's victory; it is our victory.
When we pray for our neighbor to receive a financial blessing and
God answers those prayers, we can smile, feeling that deep down joy
of being in sync with the Lord's purposes for that individual.
When we give what God requires of us, we always get something in
return. This is the principle of reciprocity. Scripture says, "Give,
and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken
together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with
the measure you use, it will be measured to you." You can read about
it in Luke 6:38.
So don't worry. Be happy…for others and watch what God will
do for you!