You can find out a good deal about a person simply by observing what they celebrate. To celebrate is to “observe or commemorate with ceremonies or festivities.” There are certainly times where celebration is in order. But it seems that our self-centered world is rejoicing in many things that are not worthy of celebration.
We should not celebrate when we perform ordinary responsibilities. Twice this year an NFL defensive player has injured himself and perhaps ended his career for celebrating the execution of a tackle. Stephen Tulloch and Lamarr Houston both tore their ACL’s because they tried to jump and make a dance move after they sacked the quarterback. They are supposed to sack the quarterback. They should have gone back to the huddle and prepared for the next play. God made us in such a way that we can’t kick ourselves our pat ourselves on the back. We should understand that doing our job is the least we can do.
“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ” – Luke 17:10
We should not celebrate when people suffer. We justify such feelings if the one suffering has been unkind to us or hurt us. We tend to enjoy watching the defeat of any person who is or has made themselves our rival. Perhaps we may even go so far as wishing for bad things to happen to certain people for reasons that seem fair to us. And yet God never rejoices over the loss of a soul, no matter the reason. And love never rejoices when sin abounds or when wounds are inflicted.
“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ – Ezekiel 33:11
We should not celebrate when the game hasn’t ended. “The Music City Miracle,” “The Bluegrass Miracle,” and “The Play to Beat the Band,” should all remind us that the game isn’t over until the last second has come off the clock. Many people misunderstand salvation by believing it happens in a baptistery. In reality it begins with grace that comes from God alone, it is realized in obedience, and that same obedience that gave birth to forgiveness is required until our physical death. We can live in grace and at the same time understand that in stewards it is required that one be found faithful.
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” – Mark 13:13
We should not celebrate a victory that comes at too high a cost. One Sunday morning an elder met a Christian baseball coach in a restaurant at lunchtime. The baseball team had just come from the field having won a tournament, and the elder had come from worship. A stressful greeting was met with the coach making this comment, “I am sorry we missed the assembly, but at least we won the game.” Unfortunately the coach was mistaken. There were no winners on that field on that particular Sunday. Every person who forsook the assembly lost. In spiritual matters Jesus taught that we can only win by losing. When we let God be first-place in all things, everyone wins. If a choice we are making cannot be celebrated in eternity, it cannot be celebrated now.
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Matthew 16:26
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