TO GLOAT is “contemplate or dwell on one’s own success or another’s misfortune with smugness or malignant pleasure.” It’s never a good thing to do, yet nowadays many people often fall precisely into that.
They flaunt their achievements, they strut their stuff, they even show off the nice places they have been to and the good food they have taken. And when others fail or suffer a misfortune or even get their just desserts for their bad acts, many people leap for joy. They feel they have strong reason to feel and act that way.
Gloating usually takes place in the field of politics. Politicians, public officials, candidates and other wannabes try to outdo each other in terms of their accomplishments and status while quick to find fault in others and are happy to see others fail or weak in something.
Of course, in that field of politics, the temptation to gloat is strong and constant for that is how politicians market themselves to the people. But just the same such circumstances and conditions do not make gloating right.
It is the same in the other fields like in business, academics, sports, entertainment, etc. It is not even right to take delight that somebody is being justly punished for a misdeed or a crime he has committed.
If we are truly Christian, it is not the right thing to do. Christ did not take delight in the mistakes of others. He was always quick to forgive, ever understanding and compassionate with the weaknesses of men. If ever he got angry, it was only for a moment.
These days we have to be very guarded against the general tendency to gloat, since it has become kind of normal everywhere and is seen and done everywhere. It is in the newspapers, on TV, in social media. Yes, it has leaped from the level of private gossips to that of social networks and general culture.
To gloat is never right because in the first place whatever good we have and accomplishments we make are always due to God’s grace. Our efforts play only a secondary and instrumental role at best. So we do not have reason to be so proud as to gloat.
As St. Paul said: “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor 4,7)
In other words, we are all equal in the eyes of God our creator. The differences and distinctions we have among ourselves are meant to work for the common good, and not for one’s glory but for God’s glory.
Neither is it right to gloat over the misfortunes in others, in whatever forms these misfortunes come. And the simple reason again is that in the end we are all brothers and sisters meant to love one another.
The mistakes we commit among ourselves and the just consequences they produce do not give us a reason to gloat. Instead, like Christ, we always have to show mercy and compassion. These should be the last word to take effect even if just penalties will have to be imposed for any wrongdoing.
Of course, for us to avoid gloating, we need to be strongly identified with Christ. Without him, there is no way we can avoid it. Our wounded humanity will have no alternative.
That is why, we have to pray and follow Christ in his example of extreme humility and abundant patience, compassion, mercy and magnanimity.