QUESTION 7-How can we rejoice with those who rejoice? How can we weep with those who weep? (v.15)
Although this translation can be taken to mean a literal rejoicing and weeping, it can also be interpreted figurative as in when a believer is sincere or genuine in his expression of joy or sorrow for another's situation.
Case in point, I remember applying for a position that I knew I was well qualified to fill, but I was not considered. Another co-worker was promoted instead to the position. I remember the total letdown that came over me when I heard our supervisor make the promotion announcement afterwards. I am sure that my face said it all. I was truly not rejoicing for my co-worker. In fact, when I congratulated her on her promotion, I was not sincere in my words. It was so fake! Well, the Holy Spirit troubled my spirit so badly for the rest of the afternoon afterwards that I could not concentrate on my work. Honestly, I had to take five and get myself back together. I did this by first repenting to God for my poor attitude and for forgetting to remember that it was a blessing to even have a job in the first place. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 weighed on my heart: "Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the Ruler of all mankind; your hand controls power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength" [TLB].
Now, being the student of God's Word that I am, I know that I was to have also gone to my co-worker afterwards and 'fessed up to my insincerity and asked for her forgiveness. That I have not done yet, but it is coming.
Christians suffer losses just as those who have never named Christ do. When believers are grieving, we are to "weep with those who weep." This includes not only the death of a loved one, but also such things as a layoff or serious illness.
Because believers are a body, when one part hurts, everyone feels the pain; when one is joyful, everyone can rejoice. Christians cannot be indifferent to the suffering or joy of their fellow believers (see 1 Corinthians 12:25, 26).
QUESTION 8-How can we live at peace with those who do not want to be at peace with us? (v.18)
This question addresses my particular work situation in the Introduction. All of us suffer because of those who do evil in our world-and because of those who are evil in our world. While the temptation to retaliate can be strong, this is not God's will.
The believer's aim should be to live peaceably with all people. But sometimes peace is not within our control; this is why Paul limits the command in verse 18. We are to strive to be at peace with everyone. If someone wants to argue or fight, we cannot prevent him from doing so, but we do not need to lower ourselves to act as he does (see Proverbs 20:3, 22).