Demonstrating Sympathy in a Heartless World

“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

It may sound harsh to describe our world as heartless, so we need to qualify that a bit. The world is “heartless” compared to where it should be. But what about God’s children? Has the rough and tumble of life created an iron wall of callousness in us? Do we even have the desire to feel for the woes of others? Where can people turn for sympathy if not to God’s people? We could point them to God, and we should. But even Jesus, perfect in every way, looked for human companionship in His hour of need (Matthew 26:38-41).

What causes heartlessness?

I can say without hesitation that I have met believers who seem to demonstrate little or no compassion to the unfortunate, or those who have experienced misfortune. What causes this response? It could be that we remember too much of what has happened to us over a lifetime. But we need to forgive and not grow hard-hearted. Sometimes we rightly grow indignant when people paint themselves in a corner through foolish mistakes and even sins. But recall the times we have done the same (if you cannot remember any such times, ask God to soften your rather stony heart). We can detest what God detests without dismissing people who made mistakes but who still have needs.

How can I grow sympathetic to others?

1. Ask God for a heart of compassion.
God Himself sympathizes with those who hurt. We need to ask Him to “tenderize” our hearts to display sensitivity toward others in need. We need to also ask God to forgive us for growing heartless in out attitudes towards others.

2. Meditate on Bible verses that emphasize compassion.
Try, for example, the verse above, Colossians 3:12. Or you could commit to memory Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

3. Freely forgive others.
Many lack compassion because they view themselves “victims” of others’ bad behavior. But then that should make us “candidates of compassion” to others since we know what it’s like to experience cruelty and injustice.

4. Practice compassion.
Sometimes the “feeling” just doesn’t surface and we just do not “feel” compassionate. Our actions usually follow our hearts, but often our hearts follow our deeds, particularly good deeds. We may say, “Lord, I lack compassion, but following your teaching and example, I pledge myself to exercise compassion on others.” If we obey God’s command to forgive and demonstrate compassion, our hearts will soon follow.

5. Think godly thoughts.
Memorize Philippians 4:8, where God commands us to think Christ-honoring thoughts. Too often we soil our minds with the growing cynicism of a heartless world, and it’s not hard to become infected with this callous attitude. To combat this, meditate on and practice Godly thinking. Soon others will benefit from our compassionate attitude, and God will be honored.

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