Category Archives: sympathy

Conscious Compassion

Conscious Compassion

The engine is fact (God and His Word) and the fuel car is our faith. We should place our trust (the fuel) in God and His Word (the engine). The passenger car is feeling. It would be foolish to place our trust (fuel) in our feelings (the passenger car) … the train will not run! In the same way, we should not depend on feelings or emotions.

The bible teaches in Luke 6:31: as you would others do to you, do you even so to them:

The difference between sympathy and empathy is significant to the Christian walk.

SYMPATHY says in words: “Boy, I’d really hate to be in that man’s shoes.”

EMPATHY says; “I have imagined what it must be like in that man’s shoes, and what I’d want someone to do for me if I were in that condition, I will do now for that man.”

Empathy places itself in another person’s shoes, and from that perspective realizes both the feelings and the need, then says: “I’m responding.”

Jesus words: “Do unto others as you would they do to you,” covers every aspect of life. In Matthew 25:32-46 Jesus said: Freed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Take in the stranger, (homeless). The hungry, naked, and homeless need not only food, clothing and shelter. They need some one to help them learn a skill, get a Job and become responsible. If they are a Drug addict or alcoholic, help them find an agency the deals with deliverance from whatever pathology they have. Care for another human being as if they were your parent or sibling. Have that conscious compassion.

Empathy must also place itself in the shoes of the infirmed. They are lonely and need visits. Helpless and need a hand accomplishing things. They may need other support and help to go to agencies and fill out forms to acquire aid.

ANYONE can repent of past conduct, and begin a new life, and be trusted as if they never did any wrong.

What are we as Christians going to do that have to answer to the lord for each act and word toward the hungry, naked, homeless, sick, and prisoners. When Jesus said: when you done it unto them, you have done it unto me, ENTER INTO KINGDOM OF GOD.
We must think Jesus, who is God, was mistaken when he said: When you failed to do it unto the least of these my brethren, you did it not me. BE CAST INTO EVERLASTING FIRE!

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. If it was the love of God that led us to repentance. Do not allow your love to grow cold.

Empathy will open up and earn the right to confront an individual.

Psychologists call it empathy, the rare capacity to put ourselves into the shoes of our partner and accurately see life from his or her perspective.

Empathy combines two important capacities: to analyze and to sympathize, to use our heads and to use our hearts. Our analytical capacities involve collecting facts and observing conditions. We look at a problem, we break it down into its causes, and we propose solutions. That’s analyzing. Sympathizing is feeling for another person. It is feeling the pain of someone who is suffering or feeling the anger of a person in rage. Analyzing and sympathizing are the twin engines of empathy. One without the other is fine, but their true power is found in combination. We need to love with both our head and our heart to empathize.

While the word “empathy” is never used in the Bible, it is, in a sense, what the whole Gospel message is about. The apostle Paul encouraged empathy in Hebrews when he said: “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3). He also said, “We who are not strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1).

Sympathy focuses on sharing (experiencing) a person’s bad news or feelings, feeling sorry for the person suffering the bad news/feelings, and whether the sympathizer agrees with any of the person’s beliefs, opinions, or goals whereas empathy focuses on sharing (experiencing) a person’s bad and good news or feelings and understanding the bad or good news/feelings rather than feeling sorry for the person’s bad news/feelings or agreeing or disagreeing with the person’s beliefs, opinions, or goals.

Sympathy emphasizes sharing distressing feelings whereas empathy does not emphasize any particular type of feeling. The listener using empathy shares (experiences) whatever feelings the talker is expressing at the moment, regardless of whether the feelings are distressing (grief, for example) or pleasant (love, for example).

Sympathy may also involve agreeing with some aspects of the other person’s feelings, beliefs, etc. whereas empathy emphasizes understanding all of them with no interest in either agreeing or disagreeing.

The person using empathy tunes into the entire inner world of the other person whereas the person using sympathy typically tune

s into only those aspects with which he agrees.

The listener using empathy usually responds more comprehensively to the talker as compared with the listener using sympathy.

At this point you may be thinking: So far you have discussed sympathizing and empathizing with a person’s feelings or beliefs. What about other aspects of a person such as values or goals? I will answer this question by introducing the concept of a person’s inner psychological world, which I will divide into two parts–“the heart part” and “the head part.”

The heart part consists of feelings.

The head part consists of beliefs, thoughts, attitudes, opinions, values, memories, wishes, goals, etc. I have grouped all of the head part components under the label of “beliefs” in order to simplify my comparison.

Both sympathy and empathy involve “tuning in” to (“entering”) the other person’s inner world. After tuning in, the person using empathy temporarily becomes that person in a limited way (“identifies with”), for example, the grieving and loving son; this does not usually happen for the person using sympathy.

Empathy is closely related to the concept of sympathy. We cannot examine empathy without examining sympathy because their meanings are similar and their usage overlaps somewhat. The concept of empathy is a fairly new one, while the idea of sympathy has been around much longer. Empathy has evolved over the past century from its first usage as necessary to aesthetic experience to the idea that it is a fundamental part of human nature and necessary for psychological well-being. This essay will elaborate on how the concept of empathy evolved from the concept of sympathy to include understanding of a person or object, and how the modern usage of empathy is important in our understanding of the human condition.

In psychotherapy, the writings of such theorists as Rogers and Kelly have led to a widespread acceptance among therapists generally of a view of understanding as ’empathy’. Rogers in particular stresses the therapeutic importance of the therapist’s understanding the patient from the patient’s perspective. In order to grasp the meaning for him of the patient’s experience, the therapist has to put himself in the patient’s shoes, to try his level best to see the world from where the patient sees it. Rather than the patient having to learn the therapist’s language and theoretical system, the therapist has to learn the patient’s. In this, he has to attend not so much to the patient’s words, as to their meaning for the patient.

Feelings, Empathy & Decision Making

What is an emotion? Emotion is usually considered to be a feeling about or reaction to certain important events or thoughts. Feelings can be either pleasant or unpleasant.

Many of us are familiar with the train diagram (in the “Four Spiritual Laws” booklet) to illustrate the principle “Do not depend on feelings.”

The engine is fact (God and His Word) and the fuel car is our faith. We should place our trust (the fuel) in God and His Word (the engine). The passenger car is feeling. It would be foolish to place our trust (fuel) in our feelings (the passenger car) … the train will not run! In the same way, we should not depend on feelings or emotions.

Moreover, feelings are undependable. The same event may generate different feelings in different people; how then should we interpret the event and the feelings that follow? Even the same feelings can mean different things to different people.

Some have misunderstood “do not depend on feelings” to mean “deny your feelings.” There is nothing wrong with feelings per se. Emotions filled the Psalms. Jesus wept (John 11:35-36). Eph. 4:26 acknowledges anger as a valid emotion; it doesn’t say, “Don’t be angry because anger is a sin.” The issue is what you do when you are angry. When an argument between my boys gets heated up, I told them, “I understand that you are angry but you cannot show your anger by hitting or name-calling.” We can be human and Christian at the same time.

I’m a Christian, I’m a man, a man with feelings,
Yet sometimes I’m afraid to own my feelings.

Then God said to me:
I’ve made man so be free to be human
be free to own your feelings
but do not deny me.

The above is an excerpt of “A Conversation with God” which I wrote in 1978.

In Matt. 26:38-39, Jesus gave us an excellent example of acknowledging His feelings when He said, “Remove this cup from Me.” This was Jesus’ honest request not to go through with the crucifixion. Jesus knew that He was facing not only the agony of crucifixion but also the trauma of taking on the sins of the world (upon His sinless self) and being separated from the Father. At the same time, Jesus did not deny the Father. He said, “Thy will be done …” (Matt. 26:42).

John R.W. Stott wrote on page 120 of The Contemporary Christian,

“I learned to my astonishment that God, whose ‘impassibility’ I thought meant that he was incapable of emotion, speaks (though in human terms) of his burning anger and vulnerable love.

I discovered too that Jesus of Nazareth, the perfect human being, was no tight-lipped, unemotional ascetic. On the contrary, I read that he turned on hypocrites with anger, looked on a rich young ruler and loved him, could both rejoice in spirit and sweat drops of blood in spiritual agony, was constantly moved with compassion, and even burst into tears twice in public.

From all this evidence it is plain that our emotions are not to be suppressed, since they have an essential place in our humanness and therefore in our Christian discipleship.”

People are sometimes not fully aware of their own emotions. To acknowledge their feelings and control their behavior?

  1. Teach them “feeling words” (e.g., happy, sad, bored, angry, hurting, frustrated).

    A good way to verbalize feelings is to say “I feel _______ (emotion) because _______ (reason).”

    An individual who is in touch with his own emotions and struggles can better take the other perspective to empathize with others (c.f. Heb. 4:15-16). Developing emphatic reactions to other people’s feelings contributes to morality in that when a person feels someone’s joys and pain, he winds up feeling good when he makes them feel good and feeling bad when he hurts them.

  2. Allow our individuals to express their feelings in acceptable ways.

    When a person is frustrated, it is natural to cry. To command him to stop crying is to deny his humanity. We can acknowledge the individuals feelings by saying, “I understand that you are _______ (emotion) because _______ (reason).” Depending on the nature of the problem, you may want to be supportive and encouraging or be firm to get the individual to change his behavior.

  3. How do I know another is emotionally mature? There are no firm standards of emotional maturity such as there are for physical development. “Balance” is a key word. If your child is able to take control of his feelings then he is doing fine. Emotional maturity comes with the passage of time and is based on experience in handling setbacks in life.
  4. Suggest what to do about the situation that has upset them.

    Individuals can be motivated by reason, also subject to passions, desires and other emotions that can motivate them strongly and sometimes in the opposite direction.

    In decision making, we must be able to distinguish between what is really good for us and what seems good for us. Making this distinction is a matter of clear, rational and biblical thinking that is able to weigh the alternatives. It is at this point that emotions may dominate and rational thoughts go out the window! Therefore, it is important to establish principles beforehand as to what to do when caught in that situation.

In His Grace Forever,
Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center


Wounded Heart of Shame

Wounded Heart of Shame

Shame Synonyms:
humiliate reject neglect
ridicule disrespect abandon
dishonor slight demean
insult taunt put down
beat abuse punish
hurt loss of face soul-murder
worthless prejudice racism
numb dead cold
hell joyless suffering
pride confidence dignity
self-esteem self-respect self-love
malama bood

Isa. 42:17,44:9-11- The 3 elements of shame: exposure, revelation and consequences involves the element of trust as well. Trust is giving up our soul to another with the hope we will not be harmfully used. This power we give to another is the power to determine whether or not we are acceptable and desirable which empowers another to determine whether I am acceptable or not.

This can be misconstrued and becomes idolatry which is placing our longings to another for which only God can provide, putting this longing in the hands of a creature rather than our Creator.

Shame or folly comes about when our false god fails to meet our needs and heal our wounds, then we begin to rely on our own strength rather than on God or anyone else. All of this represents illegitimate shame.

Legitimate shame is when we acknowledge God, God is the One who determines our acceptability. Thus, legitimate shame is facing our failure to trust in God. Trusting God means relying on Him to keep our body or our world intact and to maintain the intactness of our soul. Shame of the flesh tries to deflect sin through contempt and blame shifting as with Adam and Eve.

The enemy is ultimately the evil one, and the path to Satan’s vision is rebellion or autonomy, or in other words, sin. Self-contempt and other-centered contempt is a mean by which we maintain a
semblance of control over our lives that protects one from dependence on God, and this keeps one from dealing with the problem of sin and God is the only One Who can deal with sin, the flaw of our fallen nature.

Functions of Contempt
Ps. 1:1-3 -To deal with this problem requires more than behavioral change. The issue here is sin, salvation and sanctification. Contempt serves us in 4 ways:it diminishes our shame, it deadens our longings, it makes us feel in control, and it distorts the real problem. Self-contempt is satan’s counterfeit for conviction of sin. All abuse is a violation of the sanctity and wholeness of the human soul.

Prerequisites for Growth:
To move toward loving God we begin to alter the process of self-centered stagnation and decay.

John 12:24-25 -Trusting in God involves the loss of our agenda, so that we die to our inclination to live a lie. We forfeit our rigid, self-protective, God dishonoring ways of relating in order to live life as it is meant to be lived. In order to love God’s way, we must both honor the dignity and expose the depravity of the person with whom we are in relationship.

Heb. 2:10, 5:8-9 – Real life requires death. Death involves the experience of suffering. Suffering is required for growth. Christ’s sufferings was in bearing the disgrae and shame of the Cross. As we take up His cross, we can then really see what we are meant to be. The purpose of regaining memories is removal of denial, reclamation of the self, and a movement toward real change.

Ps. 139:23-24-Reclaiming the past is a lifelong endeavor.

Repentance is an about-face movement in the mind from denial, rebellion to truth, and surrender from death to life. Repentance is an internal shift in our perceived source of life, and it involves the response of humble hunger, bold movement, and wild celebration when faced with the reality of our fallen state and the grace of God. This leads us toward coming alive for the explicit purpose of having more to give to others for their well-being and to God for His glory.

In His Grace Forever,
Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center