Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Have Consideration For the Feelings of Others

the following info and illustrations on (pgs 151-155 of Come Be My Follower) really ties in nicely with the theme of today's text discussion

“Moved With Pity”

[footnote] -The Greek word rendered “moved with pity” has been called one of the strongest words in Greek for the feeling of compassion. One reference work notes that this word indicates “not only a pained feeling at [the] sight of suffering, but in addition a strong desire to relieve and to remove the suffering.” The Greek adjective rendered “fellow feeling” literally means “suffering with.”

Two blind men are sitting beside the road, just outside Jericho. They come there each day, find a place where crowds are likely to pass, and publicly ask for charity. This day, however, they are about to experience something that will dramatically change their life.
Suddenly, the beggars hear a commotion. Unable to see what is going on, one of them asks what the excitement is about, and he is told: “Jesus the Nazarene is passing by!” Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the last time. But he is not alone; large crowds are following him. Upon hearing who is passing by, the beggars cause something of an uproar by shouting: “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” Annoyed, the crowds tell the beggars to be quiet, but the men are desperate. They will not be silenced.

Jesus hears their shouting above the din of the crowd. What will he do? There is much weighing on his mind and heart. He is about to enter the final week of his earthly life. He knows that suffering and a cruel death await him at Jerusalem. Still, he does not ignore the insistent cries. He stops and asks that the ones doing the shouting be brought to him. “Lord, let our eyes be opened,” they plead. “Moved with pity,” Jesus touches their eyes, and they recover sight. Without delay, they begin to follow Jesus.—Luke 18:35-43; Matthew 20:29-34.

This was no isolated case. On many occasions and under many different circumstances, Jesus was deeply moved to show compassion. Bible prophecy foretold that he would “feel sorry for the lowly one.” (Psalm 72:13) True to those words, Jesus was sensitive to the feelings of others. He took the initiative to help people. His compassion was a motivating force in his preaching. Let us see how the Gospels reveal the tender compassion behind Jesus’ words and actions and consider how we can show similar compassion.

Consideration for the Feelings of Others
Jesus was a man of deep empathy. He identified with and shared in the feelings of those who were suffering. Even though he did not share all their circumstances, he truly felt their pain in his heart. (Hebrews 4:15) When healing a woman who had suffered from a flow of blood for 12 years, he described her ailment as a “grievous sickness,” thus acknowledging that it had caused her great distress and suffering. (Mark 5:25-34) When he saw Mary and those with her weeping over the death of Lazarus, he was so deeply touched by their sorrow that he became inwardly agitated. Although he knew that he was about to resurrect Lazarus, Jesus was so moved that his eyes brimmed with tears.—John 11:33, 35.

On another occasion, a leper approached Jesus and pleaded: “If you just want to, you can make me clean.” How did Jesus, a perfect man who had never been sick, respond? His heart went out to the leper. Indeed, “he was moved with pity.” (Mark 1:40-42) He then did something extraordinary. He well knew that lepers were unclean under the Law and were not to mingle with others. (Leviticus 13:45, 46) Jesus was certainly capable of healing this man without any physical contact. (Matthew 8:5-13) Yet, he chose to reach out and touch the leper, saying: “I want to. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy vanished. What tender empathy Jesus expressed!

As Christians, we are called on to imitate Jesus in showing empathy. The Bible urges us to show “fellow feeling.” (1 Peter 3:8) It may not be easy to grasp the feelings of those suffering from chronic illness or depression—especially if we have not gone through such pain ourselves. Remember, though, that empathy does not depend on shared circumstances. Jesus empathized with the sick even though he himself had never been sick. How, then, can we cultivate empathy? By patiently listening as suffering ones open up their hearts and share their feelings. We might ask ourselves, ‘If I were in their situation, how would I feel?’ (1 Corinthians 12:26) If we sharpen our sensitivity to the feelings of others, we will be better able to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) At times, empathy may be expressed not only with words but also with tears. “Weep with people who weep,” says Romans 12:15.
Jesus was considerate of others, and he acted in ways that spared their feelings. Recall the time when a man who was deaf and hardly able to speak was brought to Jesus. Evidently sensing some uneasiness in this man, Jesus did something that he did not ordinarily do when healing others: “He took [the man] away from the crowd.” In private and free from the stares of the crowd, he healed the man.—Mark 7:31-35.

Jesus acted with similar consideration when people brought him a blind man and asked that he be healed. Jesus “took the blind man by the hand” and “brought him outside the village.” He then healed the man in stages. This perhaps allowed the man’s brain and eyes to adjust gradually to the dazzling sights and complexities of the sunlit world around him. (Mark 8:22-26) What consideration Jesus showed!

Being followers of Jesus calls on us to show consideration for the feelings of others. We are thus mindful of our speech, remembering that thoughtless use of the tongue can hurt the feelings of others. (Proverbs 12:18; 18:21) Harsh words, disparaging remarks, and biting sarcasm have no place among Christians, who are sensitive to the feelings of other people. (Ephesians 4:31) Elders, how can you show consideration for the feelings of others? When giving counsel, cushion your words with kindness, allowing the listener to keep his dignity. (Galatians 6:1) Parents, how can you be considerate of your children’s feelings? When administering discipline, endeavor to do so in ways that spare your children needless embarrassment.—Colossians 3:21.