We are a congregation. We are all together. What happens to all of us happens to each of us, and what happens to some of us happens to all of us. This does not mean that it all happens in the same way—of course not—but we are all affected. One of the things we must meditate on is how that all works.
If someone next to you gets cancer that did not just happen to that person. The cancer affects everyone, but to varying degrees. When someone next to you inherits a million dollars that also happened to everyone around. “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26).
But we must be careful. We must guard our hearts. We must guard our own hearts. When a hard providence hits our neighbor, like cancer, we know where the grace of God is needed, and we are usually gratified to see God supply that grace—frequently in abundance. We pray earnestly for it to happen, and are glad when it does. But when a good providence hits our neighbor, we think we know where the grace of God is needed—in his undeserving little heart—and we wonder why that grace is not being given.
This happens because we are trying to apply ointments to the wrong wounds. When extraordinary good fortune strikes, the ones most in need of grace are the also rans. The also rans believe the one most in need of grace is that guy over there who is oblivious to my situation.
All of this is just another way of saying that love binds a community together, and envy tears it apart. “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: But envy the rottenness of the bones.” (Prov. 14:30). Love is the road we must walk. Envy is a swamp that is never that far away from the road. When people walk in love, they are blessed by God. When people are blessed by God, it is easy to get “worried” on their behalf. It is easy to get off the road.
I enjoyed reading this. A pastor I know spoke about this guy that did a good thing, that’s a member of the church, and since he’s a member of our own family, we can take credit for his great achievement, because it is our achievement too! Yay!….. Unfortunately, if he goes off the rails…. we’re going to have to take credit for that too. It made me laugh. The body of Christ really is supposed to operate like a family.