Joy For Others: Devotion #9
We live in a competitive world. It comes with the assumption that you should push to the top no matter what. This attitude of success leads to a shift in perspective. Instead of viewing others as friends or colleagues, it is easy to begin to view them as the competition or even the enemy. This can lead to a “scarcity of resources” viewpoint where every accomplishment of another means less for you. Having this attitude makes it very difficult to have joy for others.
When Mary comes to spend time with Elizabeth, both Elizabeth and John react with joy. On the surface this would appear to be a very natural reaction to have when greeting your cousin for the first time after finding out that each of you is pregnant, but look at this more closely from Elizabeth’s perspective.
Elizabeth has been faithfully following God for years and until recently has been barren. Her cousin Mary isn’t even married yet and is with child. Not only that, but God chose Mary even though Elizabeth had walked through the pain of childlessness for many years while still remaining dedicated to God. It would have been easy for Elizabeth to feel like Mary hadn’t earned the right to bear God’s son and to even feel jealous, but she doesn’t. She has the opposite reaction. When Elizabeth hear’s Mary’s voice, John stirs within her and Elizabeth says, “When the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44). How does Elizabeth even know that the baby in her womb “leaped for joy” rather than it simply being the normal movement of a child in the womb? Could it be that she recognizes that joy because she herself is so filled with it at that moment?
Instead of being jealous, Elizabeth rejoices for Mary and recognizes that while God chose Mary bring His Son Jesus into the world, that gift of God is for all people. She rejoices both for Mary and with Mary. She also prays, blessing both Mary and Jesus.
Elizabeth was able to step back and see the fact that God was accomplishing great things during her time, and she could rejoice that she was able to witness it. When we can look at other’s successes and gifts as something we get to witness and be a part of rather than something to compete with, there is an abundance of joy that God has provided for us to participate in.
Think of someone you know who has recently had something positive happen. It could be a promotion, an award, a pregnancy, etc. Spend a minute praying and thanking God for the blessing He brought about for them. Practice rejoicing for that person. Consider sending a note or e-mail offering congratulations. After this practice, do you feel more joyful or less?