Let’s Be Sympathetic

Credit for photo to Beaba.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  1 Peter 3:8

Here’s the “definite point or goal” you’ve set out for.  That’s what “finally” signifies here.  We, as believers, have a point that was aimed at as our limit or the conclusion of our purpose here in life.  It’s not just Peter coming to a conclusion.  This is for us.  This is for me.  This is my aim as I identify as a believer in Jesus Christ,  “…all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”

This is not just for slaves.  This is not just for wives.  This is not just for husbands.  Those were just some of the relations in life we have trouble knowing how to handle.  But this is to all believers, including slaves, wives, and husbands.  Actually, Peter is telling us that the relationship between believers goes oh so deeper than even that of a husband and wife, should the husband or wife be yoked to a non-believing spouse.  Why?  Because there is a oneness in Christ that pulls us all together here, a deepness in unity, that isn’t attainable outside of Christ. 

I’m not saying that a married couple can’t have the deepness and oneness of being “soulmates,” so to speak.  You can be like one even if both of you are non-believers.  But you can’t be like one if one is a believer and the other not.  Because believers have a unity of mind and spirit with Christ.   How could I be unified with You Lord, and learning to think like You and love the things You love the way You do, and be unified with loving the world and the things of it as a non-believer thinks?  It doesn’t happen that way.  There’s a lonely gap in the middle.  There’s a distance.  There’s misunderstanding.  There’s a hole.

But where there is a relationship in Christ, there is unity not only with Christ, but with other believers, no matter who they are.  So in a world where there are slaves and not slaves, or anything like that, we are not looking at people that way.  We see each other through the mind and eyes of Christ.  In Philippians 5, Paul goes more deeply into this.  Are you encouraged in Christ?  Are you comforted from His love?  Do you get to participate with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit?  Do you receive affection and sympathy from His?  If you have put your trust in Him, then the answer is, “YES!”  Well, then don’t just basque in it for yourself!  Spread it to others!  “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  So I must ask myself, “Are you unified with Christ?  If so, would I give like Jesus for the sake of others?  How does my humility look?  Do I draw a line on my humility?  Do I say, ‘God, You can ask this of me, but not that.  I won’t go that far.  That’s just too much.’?  Or, would I truly love You enough to empty myself in the same mind and humble myself in the same mind and become obedient even to the point of death if You so required?

“But we have the mind of Christ.”  That’s what Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:16.  But it’s not for the purpose of instructing God, that’s for sure.  We don’t become little God’s knowing everything He knows.  But we are blessed to be able to see God and others through the eyes of Christ, to have His understanding through unity with the Holy Spirit who brings us to know His will, to have His heart, to share His love. 

Therefore, everyone who is a true believer, ought to be unified in thought, in compassion to one another, fond of each other as brothers and sisters love each other, sympathetic and tenderhearted to one another, and courteous or kind to one another.  That ought to be a no-brainer, right?  But is this what my life looks like for real?  That’s what Paul and Peter and most importantly, Jesus, want me to ask myself.

I mean, let’s just look at being sympathetic.  Have you ever heard of a story where a husband winds up having pregnancy symptoms along with his wife?  It’s an actual syndrome because it happens occasionally.  It’s called Couvade syndrome or sympathetic pregnancy.  The partner experiences some of the things the expectant mother is experiencing.  Really.  Sometimes the husband experiences some weight gain, altered hormone levels, morning sickness, and trouble sleeping.  That’s quite a level of understanding, isn’t it?

Noah Webster defines sympathy as “Having common feeling with another; susceptible of being affected by feelings like those of another…”  He also defines sympathy as “Fellow feeling.”  But here’s the thing.  Our deepest sympathy should be with Christ.  If my deepest sympathy is with another person, I could be affected by their affections, which could lead us both where we don’t want to go.  But, if we are living in the mind of Christ, in that unity, we will be living in the deepest sympathy of Christ together, which is always for us, and not against us; which is always compelling us toward that unity in Him which brings us all into unity.

May Peters words remind me to look to Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Let me “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that [I] may not grow weary or fainthearted.”  Let me remember, that You have given me Your mind, this same mindset toward others and especially toward God.  Now let me live in it.