Sympathy Starts with Listening

November 21, 2011

“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.

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Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods: 40 Days in the Word Special Edition: Twelve Ways You Can Unlock God’s Word
Publisher: Zondervan | ISBN: 978-0310495932