When my children were young I loved taking them fishing. I would bait their hooks and I would take the fish off their hooks. When they got their line tangled in the bushes or in the branch of a tree, I would untangle it for them. They caught most of the fish because I was so busy attending to them that I hardly had time to put my own line in the water. And yet, I enjoyed every minute of it. I experienced more joy in watching them catch fish, than in catching fish myself. I received more joy in watching them eat their catch (which I had cleaned), than in eating it myself. I suppose in fishing with my children, I experienced some vicarious moments.
What gives us joy? When a co-worker gets a promotion are we truly happy for her or are we envious that we didn't get what she received? When a friend finds his dream job, are we truly thrilled for him or are we jealous that our dream employment has never come to fruition? When we find out that our next door neighbors will become grandparents for the first time, do we truly celebrate with them, or are we depressed that we have yet to become grandparents? When the church down the street starts a wonderful new ministry that brings new folks into the kingdom, do we truly rejoice thanking God for his work in their midst, or do we feel a sense of competition because our church has no such ministry?
What gives us joy? I dare say that is a good test of our character. Do we truly rejoice in the good fortunes of others or are we jealous, envying what they have that we don't?
Jesus says that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than in ninety-nine righteous folk who need no repentance. If that repentant sinner is found among the Baptists, should we Methodists be angry? If that repentant sinner comes to the altar in the Presbyterian Church, should the Pentecostals be unhappy?
What gives you joy? What is your character?