15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
The church being one, there should be common empathy in both sad and joyful experiences of her members. In 1 Corinthians 12:26, Paul said, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” Likewise, in Philippians 2:4, Paul exhorts, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” We must show friendly concern in the good and ill that happens to other persons. Our mutual interest in members’ happiness and sorrow would enhance the bond of fellowship in the church. Two aspects are involved here.
Firstly, we are exhorted to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice”. We must truly rejoice at the well-being of fellow brethren. We should not frown at the heartfelt and godly rejoicing of those who have been endowed with good providence. Disapproving or condemning such divinely favoured joy is not befitting of a Christian. We should appreciate their happiness and share in their joy with appropriate words and actions. It is the Christians’ duty to spread happiness and God-given enjoyments everywhere.
Here are some biblical examples of “Rejoice with them that do rejoice”. In Luke 1:57-58, we read, “Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.” Jesus also spoke of a woman who found her lost silver coin and then “calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost” (Luke 15:9). It must be our joy to participate in others’ rejoicing, and also to welcome others to participate in our joys.
Secondly, we are exhorted to “weep with them that weep”. Sympathising with those who are afflicted and grieving is a solemn act of true Christian charity. Inability to grieve for another’s misfortune is both unfeeling and unchristian. A strong warning is further given against gloating over others’ misfortune in Proverbs 17:5, “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.”
Be that as it may, this exhortation to mutual encouragement does not sanction Christians’ participation in sinful mirth or inconsolable mourning; it pertains only to just and reasonable joy and sorrow of fellow believers.