Proverbs 24:17-18 (NASB)
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Or the LORD will see it and be displeased and turn His anger away from him?
Do you feel a bit of satisfaction when something bad happens to someone you don’t like? When the obnoxious co-worker gets reprimanded or loses their job? When the proud person at church gets humbled? When the politician on the other side of the aisle gets caught in a scandal? You may feel better, but with your delight comes the Lord’s displeasure.
Jesus took this Proverb a lot further in the Sermon on the Mount when He commanded his followers to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you maybe sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” The bible clearly calls us to a very different kind of life than the world does…or the devil…or our flesh.
God calls us to a life in pursuit of peace rather than retribution (Ps. 34:14). He calls on us to focus our thoughts on noble and beautiful things rather than dwelling on getting even or indulging some skewed sense of justice (Phil. 4:8). And when the final day of Judgment comes to the earth, no follower of Christ is going to be cheering or delighting in the fact that some of their friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even family members will not be ushered into Heaven…but rather, will be condemned to Hell.
There is an old saying I turn to when my heart turns towards delighting in the suffering of my so-called enemies…when the people on the other side of the aisle stumble and fall…when the rich and famous come crashing down…
“Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die.”
A bitter heart always serves up a plate of delight when something bad happens to someone we don’t like or someone we envy. With each additional bite our hearts grow harder…and colder. Instead of loving our enemies with the care and concern of Christ we cast them aside with the carelessness and callousness of Satan himself. Is it any wonder that he Lord is displeased with us?