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Yes, You Can Be Happy For Others!

By Laura J. Bagby Producer - It's a familiar scenario: Your best friend from college has just announced her engagement, your co-worker just got a promotion, and your next-door neighbor just bought a new, fully loaded SUV.

Is your first reaction a pang of jealousy? Is it that self-pitying, why-not-me response? How about this one: It's not fair that someone I know just got what I wanted.

Now, obviously, these are not the appropriate Christian responses to the success of someone you know. The correct response is to sincerely congratulate that blessed individual. But there are times that we just don't want to be happy for others. In fact, we may even feel justified in withholding our blessing because we think we haven't been blessed enough.

For years I was threatened by the success of others, erroneously believing that someone else's success would somehow undermine my success, especially if that person had similar goals to mine. It grated on my nerves that my peers were getting high-paying jobs in their field of study right out of graduate school without much effort. It grated on my nerves that someone I knew got chosen to sing a solo in church instead of me. It grated on my nerves that people I considered unprepared and unworthy for marriage got blessed with a new mate. I wanted to stand up on my soap box and shout, "Hey, you just stole my dream!"

I no longer wanted to hang around these people, because it reminded me of how unsuccessful I thought I was. In my overly competitive mind, I reasoned that I was a failure, because the other person was a success. And so these wonderful, achieving individuals became my enemies. I avoided them at all costs to soothe my self-esteem. Talk about insecure! I was so bound by my jealousy that I couldn't be happy for anyone.

But over the span of thirty long years -- it's embarrassing to admit it has taken me this long -- I have learned that just because someone else gets a blessing doesn't mean my blessing will get forfeited. Another's success doesn't cancel out my success.

That's because God does not play favorites when it comes to blessing His children. In Psalm 5:12 it says, "For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield." Though the timing may not be what we expect, nor the blessing be what we think, He nonetheless blesses us. Do you believe that? It's true.

In fact, I can say without a doubt that God has already blessed you. Seem audacious? If you have a home, a car, money for groceries, and some close friends, you are blessed.

And even if you don't have these things, if you are following the Lord, you are still blessed, because the Bible says you are a child of God (1 John 3:1), you are redeemed (Psalm 71:23), you are chosen (Ephesians 1:11). According to Ephesians 2:10, "[You] are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [you] to do." He who began a good work in you will carry it out until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). With that said, you and I are free to bestow blessings on others, knowing that our blessings from God are assured.

To be happy for another is not just a choice, it's a good choice. And more than that, it's a God choice, for the Bible commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Bible mentions this principle often (see Leviticus 19:18, Romans 13:9, and James 2:8). As it says in Galatians 5:14, the whole law can be summed up by this one command. That's powerful stuff!

Blessing others is such a simple principle, you would think it would be easy to implement. However, there are times when being truly happy for another is challenging. That is because we are required to die to ourselves. Death to our own nature is painful, but having God resurrect in us His character and His ways is true life indeed! Expect when you decide to bless others that it may not feel natural at first. You might want to take back your blessing when, after praying for others, they actually succeed in their endeavors. Jealousy may try to take a foothold. But don't give up. Repent of any ill feelings, and then continue to bless and allow God to work on your bad attitude. He will change it as you obey Him.

The interesting thing about this blessing business is that when we practice it consistently, we end up getting blessed. When our best friend succeeds in his or her career, we can genuinely share in that excitement. It is not just our friend's victory; it is our victory. When we pray for our neighbor to receive a financial blessing and God answers those prayers, we can smile, feeling that deep down joy of being in sync with the Lord's purposes for that individual.

When we give what God requires of us, we always get something in return. This is the principle of reciprocity. Scripture says, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." You can read about it in Luke 6:38.

So don't worry. Be happy…for others and watch what God will do for you!

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