My friend looked fantastic; I was so proud of her. She was in transformation mode and was well over halfway to her weight loss goal. This lifestyle change was her first real success at weight loss as an adult, and it was a really big deal. She was working hard, making great choices, and it was finally undeniable to others that she was looking good.
I got a text from her one day that said she’d overheard a co-worker talking about her weight loss and how she knew my friend would gain it all back. It felt like a knife to her heart, and she was asking me to say a prayer so she could keep the right attitude.
Why do humans act like that? Why is it so difficult to be happy when good things happen to those around us? And why do some people feel the need to gloat when things go badly for others? Jealousy and meanness are prickly emotions, and they steal so many things from relationships. It’s almost as if we need to be reminded that we don’t have to push someone else back to go forward ourselves. It is possible to walk side by side and help each other on the way.
I’ve never really thought of Taylor Swift as a truth-teller, but sometimes her lyrics hit the nail on the head. These lines are from her song Mean: “You, with your words like knives and swords and weapons that you use against me. You have knocked me off my feet again; got me feeling like I’m nothing… You, pickin’ on the weaker man… Why you gotta be so mean?”
Here’s another truth-teller. Romans 12:15-16 says, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” (NLT) Don’t be known as one of those people who are known for being mean. What can it hurt to encourage or lift up someone instead? It’s human nature to feel jealous and to one-up others. And that’s why we need God’s help: to overcome our human nature.
As God-followers, we choose to take on God’s nature instead. In 1968, a then-Catholic priest wrote a hymn called, “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love,” inspired by John 13:35. That verse says, “Your love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Being right doesn’t prove anything to anybody. And being mean is just plain wrong. Nope, responding in love is the right answer every time, no matter what.