Trading Rejoicing and Weeping for Boasting and Complaining

Lake Superior - ShelliBourque

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. [Romans 12:15 HCSB]

This verse is easier to understand than it is to obey. There is much that can be said about our ability to rejoice and weep with others, and I will address it in future writing; but for now, I want to focus on the latter part of each clause—“with those who rejoice” and “with those who weep.”

Life is full of highs and lows, triumphs and failures, moments of joy and despair. What a wonderful privilege it is to have a God who understands our joys and our sorrows. He who became flesh rejoiced and mourned, and in doing so, experienced the full range of human emotion. Our faith does not call us to a stoic life, but invites us to delight and rejoice in the good, the beautiful, and the godly, as well as mourn over sin and loss.

This verse also reveals that rejoicing and weeping are not meant to be experienced alone. We are free to express our most jubilant rejoicing and our most sorrowful weeping in the company of others who are called to join us in joyous celebration or compassionate burden bearing.

Emotions are much sweeter, purer, and grander when shared with others, wouldn’t you agree?

Yet, we believe a lie when instead of sharing our joys and sorrows and asking others to experience the emotion with us, we turn the spotlight on ourselves and expect others to experience joy and sorrow for us.

We trade rejoicing and weeping for boasting and complaining.

Instead of rejoicing with thanksgiving in our heart before the Lord, we seek attention and accolades. We boast in our achievements, our possessions and even about our children. Whether obvious or subtle, we are saying in our boasting, “Look at me! I need your praise. Be glad in all I have done.”

Instead of weeping over sin or loss in humble submission to the Lord, we seek attention and sympathy. We complain about petty inconveniences, we exaggerate difficulties, we call attention to ourselves instead of to that which grieves us. We are saying, “Look at me! I need you to feel sorry for me. Cry for all I am suffering.”

Don’t believe me? Look at your Facebook feed. I dare you to scroll back 24 hours. You’ll see them both – boasting and complaining. Again and again.

I don’t have insight into the full issue, but I think social media has provided a platform that nurtures growth of these sinful habits. The sin is our own, but it is amplified, celebrated and imitated via social media.

Instead of calling a close friend or two to share our gladness, we headline it to hundreds of “friends” and the more who respond the happier we can be. Instead of telling our children face-to-face that we are proud of them, we tell them in front of the world so everyone will be proud of us for having such wonderful children.

Got a new job after a year of unemployment? By all means, rejoice and be glad and share it with others. Is a serious illness threatening to overtake a loved one? Of course, it’s appropriate to share with as many people as will bring you comfort and pray for you.

Yet, while there is no hard and fast line that can be drawn, it’s usually obvious when the line has been crossed. Are you announcing your fourth exotic vacation this year? Or praising your all A student for yet another A? Or grumbling that your favorite coffee shop has closed and now you might die for lack of caffeine? If so, examine your heart and ask yourself whether you are wanting others to rejoice or weep with you or for you.

But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Galatians 6:14a HCSB]

I won’t dare boast in my success in boasting in Christ alone, but it is certainly my earnest desire to do so. In my own social media musings, I have borrowed from the adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all,” to say to myself, “If you are boasting or complaining, don’t say anything at all.” This has caused me to cancel many drafted status updates and kept me silent instead.

Have you noticed the same trend in your social media feeds? 

Are you guilty of boasting and complaining?

Why do you think we are trading the blessing of emotion for the lie of ego stroking? 


About Shelli Bourque

An ordinary girl living by the grace of life in Christ. Adoring wife and mom. Lover of quiet places and uncluttered spaces. Beauty seeker and image maker.