September 26, 2013
"Restoring Relationships: Sympathize"
“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19: 11 NIV
The third biblical step towards restoring relationships is to sympathize with the other person’s feelings.
God gave you two ears and one mouth. He wants you to do twice as much listening as talking. Before attempting to solve any disagreement you must first listen to the other person’s feelings.
Paul advised, “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own” (Philippians 2:4 TEV). The phrase “look out for” is the Greek word "skopos." Our words telescope and microscope come from that root. It means pay close attention.
Focus on feelings, rather than facts. It’s easy to misunderstand the facts but the misunderstood feelings are what cause the anger. Begin with sympathy, not solutions.
Don’t try to talk people out of how they feel. Listen and let them unload emotionally without being defensive. That’s the hard part, isn’t it? Nod that you understand even if you don’t agree. Feelings are not always true or logical. In fact, resentment makes us act and think in foolish ways.
David admitted, “When my thoughts were bitter and my feelings were hurt, I was as stupid as an animal.” (Psalm 23: 21 – 22 TEV) We all act beastly when we are hurt.
How can you do such a thing? Jesus says patience comes from wisdom and wisdom comes from hearing the perspective of others. Listening says to people, I value your opinion; I care about our relationship because you matter to me.
The cliché is really true: people don’t care what we know until they know we care. To restore fellowship “we must bear the burden ‘of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others rather than focus on ourselves.’”
It is a sacrifice to patiently absorb the anger of others, especially if it is unfounded. We turn to Jesus to help us do it. After all He knows what it feels like. He did it for us.
Peace in the Lord,
P.S.: Sorry for the delay. I thought this was set up to go out this morning, but discovered it was not when I was setting up Friday's devotion.
Posted on Fri, September 27, 2013
by Marie Blair