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Cheering for Another’s Failure

Cheering for Another’s Failure

But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune . . . Obadiah 1:12

I go to a gym where competition is an inherent part of the experience. One doesn’t need to compete to be there, but my buddies and I enjoy trying to outdo one another. Unfortunately, my friends are bigger and stronger than me, so I win less often than I’d like.

This competition can take different forms. I can truly enjoy the sport, cheering for my friends’ success. We are after all, on the same side and are there for the same purpose: to live fitter, healthier lives. Or, I can resent my friends’ accomplishments. When I come up short (which is often), if I’m honest, there is a little part of me that is irritated. I want to be the best.

If I’m not careful and if I don’t deny this natural instinct, I can become bitter and resentful. I could even begin to cheat. Once my pride takes over and elevation of self becomes my goal, I abandon right behavior. In this condition, my buddies become rivals and I become wrong.

This is the situation described in today’s passage after Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians. During this time, the Edomites – descendants of Esau and kin to the Israelites – turned on them. The Edomites sided with the Babylonians, even occupying the homes of their conquered brothers. Though they were related, the inherent competition between the descendants of Jacob and Esau led to enmity. They were supposed to be on the same side, but instead the Edomites allowed their rivalry to become hatred.

If I’m not careful, my pride similarly twists my behavior. It may be amusing at the gym, but when I cheer for the failure of a Christian brother because I disagree with him, it’s far less funny. Addicted to pride and elevation of myself, I become wrong, embracing evil.

If we want to avoid the misery of bitterness and envy, then we must abandon that pride that says, I need to be elevated above others. We must choose not to cheer for another’s failure but rather, like at the gym, we must be the kind of people who make those around us better.

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