Rejoicing – I am happy when something good happens to my friends.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice” Romans 12:15

The instilling and building of character in our children (and even in ourselves) isn’t for the times when everything goes our way but rather for those times when things don’t go our way! One of my favorite reminders of the important role that character plays in our life comes from the prayer book Valley of Vision:

may my character and not my circumstances define me.”

Think about the last time someone you knew approached you with good news. Maybe they just found out they were expecting a baby, receiving a promotion at work (which meant a hefty boost in pay), or they were finally getting that big house they’ve been dreaming of.  Was your immediate reaction one of rejoicing? Maybe and maybe not – it might depend on the person and the circumstance, right?

Rejoicing, as defined in the Webster Dictionary, is the act of expressing joy and gladness. In Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice” is found under the section Behave Like a Christian and verses 9 – 21 are filled with similar short and sweet imperatives.

So what prevents us from rejoicing with those who rejoice? This is where sin silently sneaks into the heart and the ugliness of jealousy keeps us from behaving like a Christian. Proverbs 14:30 says “a heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”


How can we teach our children to rejoice when others are rejoicing?

Model Rejoicing. Children learn primarily by seeing actions carried out. What are the ways you celebrate someone else’s blessings? Cards, words of affirmation, gifts, hugs? Or maybe these lessons take place on the field or court – shaking an opponent’s hand and telling them “great job!” can be a wonderful way to teach children to rejoice with others.

Put an End to Envy. Learn to recognize when your child is being envious. Are they being mean or speaking rudely to a friend or sibling? Take the time to encourage them in circumstances that tend to provoke jealousy. Don’t let envy take root in the heart of your child.

If you actively work on instilling a spirit of rejoicing within your family, you will set your children on a path in which their character, not their circumstance, will define them.


Tracy LaBreche