The apostle Paul changed his travel plans in order to spare the Corinthian Christians a great deal of pain. “For if I grieve you,” he writes, “who is left to make me glad?” Paul says he didn’t want to be distressed by the very people who are supposed to make him rejoice (2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4).
Paul really loved these people.
Despite their problems and spiritual immaturity, Paul really had a deep affection for this group. And he didn’t want to hurt them. Not only that, he wanted to do everything he could to please them. He was willing and eager to inconvenience himself for their sake.
He longed to “work with them for their joy” because his own joy was so tightly wound up in theirs. Paul understood that, in the Body of Christ, the joy of one is the joy of the other. Their happiness made Paul happy. Their gladness led directly to Paul’s rejoicing. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
When we were planning a bi-lingual worship assembly a couple of years ago, I was confronted by a well-meaning brother who couldn’t comprehend how singing songs in Spanish would be an encouragement to us Anglos. If our worship time is to be a time of edification, he reasoned, how is singing some of our songs in Spanish going to edify the English speakers? How does that lift me up? My response went this way: Do you think that hearing 900 white brothers and sisters in Christ sing a song of praise and encouragement in their native language will give a lift to the 40 or so Spanish-speakers in our assembly that day? Will it make them feel good? Will it make them feel valued and appreciated? Will they experience acceptance in our efforts to sing in their language? Will they feel joy?
If the answer is ‘yes’ — and it is — then doesn’t that give you great joy, too? Doesn’t it make your heart happy to know that a group of your brothers and sisters is encouraged and gladened by something you did? Does that not edify you at all? Of course it does. In the Body of Christ, the joy of one is the joy of the other.
Yes, we are called to sacrifice for others. Yes, we are commanded to put the needs of others ahead of our own. Absolutely, we are directed by Scripture and the way of our Lord to serve our brothers and sisters. But that never means one of the things we have to sacrifice is our own happiness. Our joy is never compromised just because we’re taking care of somebody else. In Christ, our mature understanding is that our happiness results from making others happy. Our greatest needs are truly met, more deeply met, when we work to meet the needs of others.
Peja and Terry got their looks in Game One. Dirk got the ball on the blocks. And J. J. penetrated the lane as always. It’s just that the shots didn’t fall. The threes were too strong off the back of the rim. Dirk seemed like he was rushing things. And Barea’s little running teardrops didn’t…well…drop. I hate to think that it was unfamiliarity with the Eastern Conference arena they only visit once a year. I hate to imagine it was a matter of not being comfortable with the Heat’s gym. That just sounds weak.
But that’s really the only hope we have, right?
Hopefully it’s just as simple as the Mavs’ shots didn’t fall. It was an off shooting night. Everybody regains their touch tonight. It has to be that way. Because if it’s something more than that — LeBron’s defense, Chandler’s shaky confidence, Jet choking in another big series, Dirk’s finger, a soft Mavs’ interior, Miami’s fresher and faster legs — Big D is in big trouble.