I’m sure we’ve all gone through that time when people make unfair judgment about us. You, know, you’ve been months without a job and people assume you’re just lazy, or you make a mistake and people assume it was intentional… it hurts. You wish people understood you. But are we any different from them? We put people through the same thing every day. We make snap judgments and assumptions, we stereotype people even when we know nothing about what’s going on in their lives.
We so often reduce people to a handful of characteristics. We label them without consideration for their circumstances. You see, there is enough pain and bitterness for every heart. The distress of the conscience and the anguish of mind can only be known by the person going through it. And this is why the Bible tells us in Proverbs 14:10 that only the heart can know its own bitterness and no stranger can share its joy.
You know, we can say that we understand because we’ve probable seen someone in a similar situation or we ourselves have been there, but people are as unique as snowflakes. It takes a lot of sympathy and open-mindedness to fully appreciate the depth of the pain and the height of the joy in the heart of another person. Our sorrows and joys are in their entirety beyond the insight of strangers. There is no one in so intimate a relationship with us that they can perfectly put themselves in our shoes to feel what we feel. It’s only Jesus, who put himself up to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows has that capacity.
And so what does this mean for us as brethren, as people yoked together to Christ? How then do we deal with the ultimate solitude of each other’s souls? You see, we need to develop a great deal of sensitivity and tolerance towards each other because there is always more than meets the eye. Hearts are breaking right in front of us. Someone is crumbling down in the midst of that brotherly after-church hug. But are we close enough to feel it. Are we close enough to each other that they can share their burdens with us without fearing that we’ll judge them? Have we ourselves established a relationship intimate enough with our brethren that we know we have someone to lean on? Someone we can share both the joys and the pains in our hearts? Has anyone gained your confidence enough that you have the desire and the courage to share your heart even to the very depths of it?
Yes, we may never fully grasp the burden of another’s heart, but we must keep our hearts and arms open for them. We must practice sympathetic empathy with each other. We must learn to slow down and look deeper, to listen better, to care more about what’s going on in the lives of our brethren. We must learn to open our hearts to the love of others. To reciprocate with love and trust when it is offered to us. May we strive to never censure the grief of others when we have not made any attempts to understand the heaviness of their blows.
We have a responsibility towards each other as parts of the same body. The Bible tells us in Galatians to carry each other’s burdens, and in this way we will fulfill the law of Christ. The word of God obliges us to mutual forbearance and compassion towards each other. This is the law of love. It is the law of brotherhood. May we be one in our griefs as in our joys. May we reach out with open arms and open hearts. With trust, with tolerance, and without judgment in Jesus’ mighty name.
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Pastor Lucy Paynter Daily Insights