How do you be happy for someone when they get what you want?
It's a question all of us ask yet none of us voice.
How does the lonely single woman rejoice in another friend's engagement?
How does the infertile wife rejoice in her friend's fourth pregnancy?
How does the struggling employee rejoice in his friend's rapid career advancement?
We don't voice these questions because we see the terrible selfishness in them. We know it. We recognize it. Yet we still ask these questions, because it's hard to be happy when someone else gets what you want.
Jesus' Radical Command
Jesus said a lot of radical things. His words didn't make you feel coddled or complacent. But on one occasion he said something so radical, we're told that he silenced the crowds and "no one dared to ask him any more questions."
It happened when a scribe asked Jesus what the most important commandment is. Jesus replied:
“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’" — Mark 12:29-30
But then Jesus followed up with an extra command, some bonus wisdom thrown in for this scribe.
"The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” — Mark 12:31
Jesus connects loving God to loving others. But these are not any kind of ordinary loves. These are costly, consuming, risky, radical loves.
We are called to love God with everything we have, every bit of passion and devotion in every area of our lives.
But we are called to love others with another kind of costly love: we're to love them like we love ourselves.
That is astonishing! The love we have for ourselves is deep and powerful, motivating every action, driving every decision, protecting us, caring for us, constantly looking out for our good as the ultimate goal. We love ourselves desperately and profoundly.
Loving Others Like That
What if we loved others like that?
If we celebrated their wins like they were ours? If we grieved over their suffering like it was ours? If we showed up for people when it didn't benefit us at all? If we were as fiercely protective of others as we are of ourselves? If we took care of others the way we take care of ourselves? If we prayed for others as much as we pray for ourselves?
If we thought about others as much as we think about ourselves?
What would life be like?
Jesus knew that life would be better — for everyone! It'd be better for you (pro tip: covetousness, jealousy, and discontentment really don't make you feel that great), and it'd be better for the people you owe love and respect to.
Holiness is hard, but it's what ultimately leads to happiness. In fact, holiness is true happiness. Matthew Henry wrote, “Those only are happy, truly happy, that are holy, truly holy. Goodness and holiness are not only the way to happiness but happiness itself.”
If we loved others like we love ourselves, life would be a lot better — for everyone.
So my question to you is... will you try to love others like that? Will you fight jealousy with joy and discontentment with selflessness? Will you work hard to love others with the risky, costly love Jesus commands you to?
If you do, you will find happiness beyond what you ever dreamed. And you will be able to celebrate that happiness when others get what you want.