Schadenfreude. It’s a German word that means “damage joy” or experiencing joy when you hear about the troubles of others. It’s not just the kind of joy that you experience within yourself either. It is the kind of joy that shows on a person’s face. Yeah, like big-time joy…possibly with a laugh attached to it.
I will never forget one night I was sitting in church lamenting. I had forged ahead with something, thinking it would make others happy, only to penalize myself. I knew I had made a wrong decision. Then I heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit whisper this, “You’ve made many more good decisions in life, than poor ones.” Wow, that settled the issue. The sorrow, the self-pity, the sadness…GAME OVER.
But one of my “friends” didn’t quit the game that easily. Plagued with a poor self-esteem, whenever she heard someone was facing a challenge in life, I had personally watched as the news exhilarated her. One night I was at her house when we received word about a minister who stepped down from his pulpit to receive restoration in an area. I watched her talk about it endlessly with a gleeful look she could not conceal. I tried to change the subject several times to no avail. Schadenfreude.
Likewise, instead of being happy that I realized my error and was correcting it, she heaped truckloads of guilt and shame on me–much more than the situation warranted–and acted as though she had never made a poor decision in her life. I tried to tell her the truth, instead of the extremely false story she had in her mind, but she wouldn’t hear it. What she thought was true brought her too much joy.
At the end of a fruitless two hour conversation a Scripture popped into my spirit loud and strong: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
Who helps with the restoration? Who encourages a person to get back on track? Who listens to the truth and judges you based on your character? YOU WHO ARE SPIRITUAL. Spiritual in this passage means “one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God. People in Christ who walk to please God.”
So here is the real litmus test: if someone misses it, falls, errs in some way, and another is happy about it, they just bought an annual pass to miss it too. And, more
importantly their spirituality has been located–childlike at best. Read that Scripture again. It’s as plain as it gets.
Some people want you to fail. They may hear something about you that isn’t even true, but they want it to be true. Just the possibility that it has an element of truth delights them. They don’t want to find out the real story because it might negate the damage joy they are experiencing. And I mean, who wants to lose their joy, right?
If you’ve made a poor decision, and someone is delighting in it, let me encourage you with the same words the Holy Spirit encouraged me with, “You’ve made a lot more good decisions than bad ones.” After He spoke that to me, I actually started thinking of the poor decisions I had made throughout my life, and thankfully my list was not that long.
Don’t allow anyone to label you. Labels belong on clothing, not people. Instead, let me encourage you with Micah 7:8: “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me.”
Stand strong in Him. Stand firm on His Word. Grow in the knowledge of His grace and glory. And wear spiritual maturity like a sweet fragrance.