Sympathy: Entering In And Sharing The Pain Of Others

“As holy people ... be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient.” (Colossians 3:12 GWT)

In real fellowship, people experience sympathy. Sympathy is not giving advice or offering quick, cosmetic help; sympathy is entering in and sharing the pain of others.

Sympathy says, “I understand what you’re going through, and what you feel is neither strange nor crazy.” Today, some call this “empathy,” but the biblical word is “sympathy.” It says, “As holy people ... be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient” (Colossians 3:12 GWT).

Sympathy meets two fundamental human needs: the need to be understood and the need to have your feelings validated.

Every time you understand and affirm someone’s feelings, you build fellowship. The problem is that we’re often in such a hurry to fix things that we don’t have time to sympathize with people. Or, sometimes, we’re preoccupied with our own hurts. Self-pity dries up sympathy for others.

There are different levels of fellowship, and each is appropriate at different times:

  • The simplest levels of fellowship are the fellowship of sharing and the fellowship of studying God’s Word together.
  • A deeper level is the fellowship of serving, as when we minister together on mission trips or mercy projects.
  • The deepest, most intense level is the fellowship of suffering (Philippians 3:10; Hebrews 10:33-34). This is where we enter into each other’s pain and grief and carry each other’s burdens. The Christians who understand this level best are those around the world who are being persecuted, despised, and often martyred for their faith.

The Bible teaches us to “share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NLT).

It is in the times of deep crisis, grief, and doubt that we need each other most. When circumstances crush us to the point that our faith falters, that’s when we need believing friends the most.

We need a small group of friends to have faith in God for us and to pull us through. In a small group, the Body of Christ is real and tangible even when God seems distant.

This is what Job desperately needed during his suffering. He cried out, “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14 NIV).

Talk About It

  • To share in someone's grief and pain and offer sympathy, you must be able to listen well. How would you rate yourself as a listener? What makes a good listener?
  • How well does your small group fellowship at each of the three levels?

 

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


Give hope, prayer, and encouragement below. Post a comment & talk about it.


SIGN UP FOR PASTOR RICK’S FREE DAILY HOPE DEVOTIONAL

SIGN UP FOR DAILY HOPE DEVOTIONAL

Special Offer

godsdesignforyourlife-gift-bottom-left

Everything is Possible with God Study Kit
with Bonus Worship CD: The Sound of Hope

Just like exercise builds your physical muscles, God has a workout program for you to strengthen your faith. And in the Everything Is Possible with God Study Kit, Rick Warren shows you God’s divine training routine to help you strengthen your faith and develop your character.

REQUEST YOUR COPY

On the Radio

godsdesignforyourlife-currentseries-bottom-right

God's Dream For Your Life, Complete Audio Series

The Bible says in Matthew 9:29, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” That’s the key to the great adventure of following Jesus Christ. God says, “You get to choose how much I bless your life. You believe, and I’ll do it. You believe, and I’ll bless.” Join Pastor Rick for this series on how to believe in and be faithful to God’s dream for your life.

Purchase this seriesListen to this series