For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Romans 7:19
Schadenfreude. Schadenfreude is a good German word. Roughly, it means taking pleasure over someone else's misfortune. A good example of schadenfreude would be when you are passed by a speeding driver and, four miles down the road, you see him pulled over by a cop and getting a ticket. What you feel is schadenfreude.
I should also say schadenfreude is not an especially Christian virtue.
Just a short time ago, the Minneapolis Star Tribune carried an article that showed me for the nasty-hearted villain I am.
The story came out of Lebanon, Indiana. It was there, in Lebanon's Oak Hill Cemetery, that 36-year-old Katherine Gunther sort of stuck herself.
Normally a person sticking herself would make me feel bad, but there is a rest of the story.
Katherine is a witch, a follower of Wicca. She, with her coven, was in the cemetery after hours. Using candles, incense, and a sword they were performing a ceremony to give thanks for a recent run of good luck.
When they reached a certain spot in the service, Katherine was supposed to stick the sword into the ground. She missed the ground and stuck the sword into her foot. This, I imagine, immediately ended the service of thanksgiving for good luck.
When I read that story, I laughed. If I had been there, I would have been concerned and sympathetic, but I wasn't there. And before I could help myself, I laughed.
Schadenfreude. Now please, don't write to me and say, "Pastor, that was wrong. You shouldn't have laughed." I know that. It was improper, and it was unchristian. I was improper and inappropriate, and I feel sorrow for what I did.
All of this goes to show that Paul wasn't unique when he talked about not doing the good that he should and continuing to do the bad that he shouldn't. The truth is, if my heart can laugh at someone who stabs themselves in the foot with a sword, I am in need of a Savior. Every day I sin much and every day I am in need of the forgiveness that comes only through the Savior's sacrifice and resurrection.
Understand, I wouldn't have told you all of this, if I didn't think you were almost as bad as I am. You may not have laughed at the sword-in-the-foot incident, but each of us have our moments, our sinful moments, moments when we need a Savior.
Thank the Lord we have the Savior in the person of Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, why You should bother about a sinner such as me is a great mystery. I do not understand, but I shall praise You for the great grace I have received through the Savior's substitution. For forgiveness and today, I thank You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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