The Lord says in Matthew 25:21 and later in Matthew 25:23 He repeats it, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Joy…rejoicing…from the same Greek root. Heaven is a place of joy; heaven is a place of rejoicing!
That is not to imply that there is no rejoicing now. There is so much rejoicing that goes on now! In fact, Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them that weep.” In my judgment—feel free to disagree—we are pretty good about weeping with others, but we are not as good with the rejoicing. Sometimes, in fact, we may be a little aggravated or angry because somebody is rejoicing because they enjoyed some good thing happening in their life and we don’t have any of that. We are a little bit jealous perhaps. And so we make sure that we don’t scoot on over there and rejoice with them when we are wrong in doing so.
Let me put it this way—the greatest day of rejoicing for me was Sunday night, February 24, 1974, when I put Jesus on in baptism. The second greatest time of rejoicing for me in this life was Saturday, June 17, 1989 when Shayna and I were married. And the third time is a combination—the three dates that I had the privilege of baptizing our three daughters into Christ. I’ve had a lot of times of rejoicing, and I hope to have a lot more. But those stand out for me, and they always will.
I want to rejoice now. I want to weep when I need to, and I want to rejoice when I have the opportunity to. Let’s not get bitter and angry and jealous, and let’s not avoid someone’s happy time. Let’s join in with them in their moment of joy.
I told this quick story in a funeral that I conducted a while back for the wife of one of our former elders. Not long after Shayna and I moved to Birmingham in 1999, we were taking care of the church lawn as well. I was using a weed eater; Shayna was on the riding lawnmower. We were right up against the church building. Shayna picked up a rock with the riding lawn mower on rough ground and broke out a glass door at the church building. We were brand new there and, you know, we wanted to make a good impression. Here we are, we hadn’t been there very long at all and the preacher’s wife is already tearing the building apart! I heard the glass break, and Shayna shuts down [the lawnmower] while I shut off the weed eater. Shayna and I are pow-wowing there. I called the elders; they said to call this deacon who told me to call another fellow that got glass in there. Shayna was a little upset about it.
Again, we were new there and she was still pretty young. Later she tells this elder’s wife this story—Sister Sally Jones, who died just about six weeks or so ago (some of you may have known Sister Sally—a very positive, happy, rejoicing woman). Shayna said, “Why do these things always seem to happen to me?” They talked a bit, and Sally said, “Things happen to you because you are doing things. You are working; you are busy. Things don’t happen good or bad to people that aren’t out here doing anything.” You don’t have to worry about breaking a window or door out if you are at home sitting on your hands or twirling your thumbs or whatever. When you are out working physically or spiritually, things happen that are negative. And this was something little. Then Sister Sally said, “You know what, I’m glad you knocked the glass out of those doors. It was a frosted glass you couldn’t see out of.” She said, “I never did like that. When I’m in church, I like to look out.” You know, I thought, well, maybe we should knock some more [glass] out! I’ll get the wife on the lawnmower; I’ll throw the rocks out in front of her! Oh, me!
Oh, brethren and friends, things happen in this life—good things and bad things! When bad things happen and people are weeping, weep with them! When they are rejoicing, rejoice with them! Join in, but remember, ultimately, our rejoicing is in heaven (Matthew 25:21 and 23).