Sympathy Starts With Listening

“Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down.” (Romans 12:15a MSG)

In order for us to love our neighbors, we must sympathize with their pain. The Bible says, “When [the Samaritan] saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him” (Luke 10:33a MSG).

If sensitivity begins with your eyes, as we discussed yesterday, then sympathy begins with your ears. Learning to listen is the secret of genuine sympathy. The better listener you become, the more sympathetic you become.

The Bible says, “Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down” (Romans 12:15a MSG). In other words, we’re to enter into their emotions and feel what they feel. 

How do we do that?

Start by listening. I don’t mean giving advice and trying to offer solutions. I mean just listen. Sympathetic listening meets two of our basic needs: the need to be understood and the need to have our feelings validated.

The Bible says it like this: “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NLT). What is the law of Christ? It’s called the Great Commandment: “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Do you like sympathy? Of course you do. Do you like people to sympathize with you when you’re hurting emotionally or physically?  Of course you do.

Jesus says do the same to others.

Watch a short video sample from Pastor Rick on the importance of love -- Saddleback Resources offers 40 Days of Love, a six-week, video-based study for small groups or individuals that searches the Scripture for what love is, the characteristics of love, and how our relationships can be transformed by love.

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 Best Seller 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 founder of, a global Internet community for pastors. © Copyright 2011 Rick Warren. 

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