Do You Rejoice in the Failure of Others?

Loving like Jesus implies moving from self-centeredness to other-centeredness.

Ty Gibson, Lightbearers
Do You Rejoice in the Failure of Others?

My best friend and I were trying to master a challenging skateboard maneuver. The goal was to dip down from the shallow end of an empty pool into the deep end, shoot up for a split second of air, grind along the top edge, and then dip back down the vertical wall. 

It was always difficult to detect who was better between the two of us. Our skill levels tended to track neck and neck. On this particular occasion, I was getting nervous because he was doing better than me—until he overcorrected, lost control, and came crashing down. At that moment, a sinister joy arose in me at his failure. His confidence was lost. I now had the edge and mastered the maneuver before he did.

Sick me.

Sick you, too.

The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther defined sin with the Latin phrase, incurvatus in se, which means “curved inward on oneself.” That’s the core of our problem. We’re all bent in the direction of self-centeredness rather than other-centeredness. Part of the twisted psychology of the sin problem is that we tend to gloat over others’ failures because then we can feel superior to them and avoid facing our own.

Once we have defined sin as a bent toward self and away from others, we can better understand what Jesus came to save us from, for Scripture testifies of Him, “He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21, NKJV). To be saved from sin (which is self-centeredness) is to be saved into God’s love (which is other-centeredness).

Paul tells us that one of the characteristics of love is that it “does not rejoice in iniquity” (1 Cor. 13:6, NKJV). This means that love is not happy when others fail.

In our current, highly charged political climate, we are witnessing humanity at its ugliest. Politicians, with no small amount of help from a self-serving media, specialize in pointing out and capitalizing upon the failures of anyone who’s not in their camp. 

As followers of Jesus, may I encourage us to intentionally refrain from partaking in the prevailing political climate that rejoices in the failures of others? Let us love like Jesus, who urged us to love even our enemies, which necessarily includes those on the opposite side of politics from ourselves.

The original version of this commentary was posted on the Lightbearers blog

Ty Gibson, Lightbearers