What a feast for soccer fans the recent World Cup was; night after night of exciting high-quality international football.
Even nil all draws were full of skill, flair and passion.
The world game was on display with all its drama and intrigue.
One headline caught my eye when the German team, one of the cup favourites, were beaten and embarrassingly returned home much earlier than anyone had expected.
Splashed across the front page of a British tabloid was the word “Schadenfreude”. It is rare that a German word to headline in an English newspaper.
Translated the word means joy because of someone else’s sorrow or loss.
The newspaper was reflecting the sentiment that many English supporters and perhaps others around the world were pleased if not delighted that the much-fancied German team had lost.
It made me think that it is not just football fans who feel schadenfreude.
It can happen when someone who has opposed our views and beliefs falls into scandal or displays some weakness or hypocrisy.
Rather than feeling a bit sorry for them, we rub our hands together in joy and believe that they had it coming to them. After all, they were wrong and we were right.
The ancient book of Proverbs, with its practical wisdom, warns us “Do not gloat when your enemy falls” (Proverbs 24: 7).
To be jealous of another’s success or delighted by another’s failure is not a life-giving, people loving way to live.
When Jesus looked over the city that would reject and despise him, he prophesied its downfall.
His words had no trace of schadenfreude; rather the text tells us such was his sorrow that he had to wipe the tears from his eyes. (Luke 19).
I was sad we didn’t win the World Cup and good on the French, in the end, they were the best team.
My hope is that in sport and in life I will learn to “love my enemy” (Matthew 5: 44) even when they win and especially when they lose.
Rev Steve Francis