Laughing at and enjoying other people’s misfortunes is in our DNA. Renaissance-era puppeteers invented the “Punch and Judy” routines where one puppet with a stick beats another on the head. People always laughed, and then they told their friends to catch the next show. The audience was back for more the next year. Slapstick comedians know why people laugh when they put a banana peel on the ground near where their victim will walk.
The Germans call this Schadenfreude, that is, “delight in (others’) troubles.” The Bible calls it sin. One of the mandatory hallmarks of ideal Christian behavior is kindness toward all, even your enemies, especially your enemies. “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove” (Proverbs 24:17,18). It takes no special Christian grace to be glad when a friend of yours succeeds. It’s much harder, and better, to offer help to an enemy.
If you catch yourself smirking when someone you don’t like is getting chewed out by the boss, give yourself a kick. If someone in your class you really can’t stand just got a bad grade, take no pleasure.
Remember that the Bible tells us that Christ died for us while we were still awful sinners.
Mercy melts hearts, you know.