If I really want to do God’s will and follow His Word, then I must become happy with those who are happy. But how do I do this when I often find that I feel the opposite?
The Bible tells us how we should live our lives. For example, Romans 12:15 (NLT) tells us to “be happy with those who are happy”. For those of us who really want to do God’s will, this is an easy-to-understand command. But what do we do when we find ourselves in a situation where being happy for others is not as simple as it sounds?
Sometimes, when something good happens to my friend, I can find a lot of resistance in myself even though I know that I should be happy for them. I may suddenly feel like what I had before is no longer enough, even though I was perfectly satisfied with it before. Or I might feel that someone else is getting all the praise that I deserve in a certain situation. Maybe a person’s success, which I thought I truly wanted for them before, suddenly makes me feel like they are better than me.
In these moments, I find that I am tempted to be jealous, bitter, angry, etc. Things can seem so unfair, and sometimes even unrighteous. I might feel like I just want to go and share all my frustrations with someone. But how can I be happy when it’s like this - when I really don’t feel like being happy at all?
I don’t need to give in
First of all, it is perfectly normal to be tempted and to feel jealousy or unthankfulness come up inside us. But, just because we are tempted does not mean we have to agree with it or give in to those feelings! We can overcome jealousy, unthankfulness, complaining, and all such things.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT).
If I want to do the good, in spite of what I am feeling, I need to be honest and admit to what I’m being tempted to, and go to God for help as we are told to do in Hebrews 4:16. I can cry out to God, “Help me overcome this sin that I am tempted to. Give me the strength I need to fight against it. I really want to be happy with those who are happy, as Your Word says. I need your help now to do this.”
Then, with confidence, I can say, “Get behind me Satan, for it is written that we should be happy with those who are happy!” And the devil has to run away when he meets the Word of God.
I cannot expect my feelings to change overnight, but I can start taking action. I do not let those temptations develop into bitterness and self-pity. Being happy is an action and a choice. No matter how I feel, I can choose to give a good word and be along in celebrating others’ success. I must make the choice to be happy from the very start. God is for me, and He will help me overcome in any temptation, no matter how difficult it may seem.
It's a process that takes time. When we practice being thankful, good, loving, etc. we will find that these virtues will become a part of us. When, step by step, we overcome for example the jealousy that we are tempted to, we make room for love to take its place. Or when unthankfulness is overcome each time we are tempted, we make room for joy and peace to fill us.
And it doesn’t stop there. Being filled with these “fruits of the Spirit”, as Paul calls them in Galatians 5, is so much better than allowing bitterness and jealousy to grow in our hearts. We can become completely free, no longer bound by our feelings. Then we can truly be happy with those who are happy, from a heart that is full of joy.