PHBC March 29, 1998
Series: First Peter, Ser. #45
UNITY PROMOTED THROUGH COMPASSION OR SYMPATHY TOWARD ONE ANOTHER
TEXT: 1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.
INTRO: Our English word sympathy comes from a Greek word sumpatheis [sumpaqei"]. It means to "suffer or feel pain together; to suffer evils (troubles, persecutions) in the like manner with another." Our word sympathize is a transliteration of the word and means to commiserate, to suffer together as though suffering the same thing individually, to empathize. We use the saying, "I know how you feel" to express the meaning intended here.
I. THE SYMPATHY OF CHRIST FOR HIS PEOPLE
A. He was afflicted in our afflictions. Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
1. This refers to the nation of Israel as well as the saved today and it dates back to Old Testament times.
2. It does not merely refer to the cross where he was bruised for our transgressions. Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
B. The sympathy of Christ is such that he actually identified with his people when they were suffering persecution at the hands of Paul. Acts 9:4-5 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
C. The person who touches one of the Lord's people touches the apple of his eye. Zechariah 2:8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.
D. When Israel was being persecuted in Egypt, the Lord identified with them in their sorrows. Exodus 3:7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows.
1. He saw their affliction.
2. He heard their cry.
3. He knew their sorrows; he was intimately acquainted with our sorrows. He hath born our griefs, and carried our sorrows.
E. On more than one occasion, when Jesus saw the multitudes he was moved with compassion. Matthew 9:36-38 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. Matthew 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
F. One of the gracious characteristics of the Lord is that he is full of compassion or sympathy. Psalm 145:8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
G. The great compassion and sympathy of Christ was one cause of his incarnation. Hebrews 2:14-17 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
1. Because we were flesh and blood he would take part in the same to identify himself with us.
2. It behooved him to be made like his brethren in all things so that he would have the capacity to fulfill his high priestly work for us.
H. Because of his identification with us he can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
I. Jesus' sympathy, his identification with us, is again revealed in his being made poor that we might be made rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
II. THE GRACE OF COMPASSION ILLUSTRATED
A. Peter uses the expression "having compassion one of another."
B. Jesus gives the account of a certain Samaritan who manifested this sympathy about which Peter is speaking. Luke 10:30-35 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
C. It was sympathy that caused the princess of Egypt to take Moses as her own child. Exodus 2:6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.
D. Sympathy, or compassion, is an aspect of God's nature that is not often mentioned in books on his attributes except possibly under another name but, it is mentioned often in Scripture. God does sympathize with his people.
1. Moses writes of it as a companion of mercy. Deuteronomy 13:17 And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers.
a. Mercy moves God to not deal with us with the severity our sins deserve and to deliver us from the penalty because it has been paid by Christ.
b. Sympathy moves him to feel with us in our suffering. Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
2. Sympathy was promised to Israel when they repented of sin and returned to obedience to God. Deuteronomy 30:1-3 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, 2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
III. SINCE GOD AND CHRIST ARE SYMPATHETIC WITH US IN OUR TRIALS, OUR TRIBULATIONS, OUR INFIRMITIES AND TRAGEDIES, SHOULD NOT WE BE IN SYMPATHY WITH ONE ANOTHER IN OUR TROUBLES, WHATEVER THEY MAY BE IF THEY ARE GENUINE. 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
A. We should rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
B. Sympathy is doubtless what Paul had in mind when he admonished that Christians bear one another's burdens. Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
C. Paul admonished the Hebrews to so sympathize with those in bondage as though they themselves were in bondage. Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
1. I like the rendering that the New Century translation gives to this verse. Hebrews 13:3 Remember those who are in prison as if you were in prison with them. Remember those who are suffering as if you were suffering with them.
2. Consider also this from the New Living Translation. Hebrews 13:3 Don’t forget about those in prison. Suffer with them as though you were there yourself. Share the sorrow of those being mistreated, as though you feel their pain in your own bodies.
D. Paul commended the brethren whom he addressed in his epistle to the Hebrews for their sympathy with him in his imprisonment. Hebrews 10:34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
E. Paul commended another for his sympathy toward him. 2 Timothy 1:16-18 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: 17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. 18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.
F. Nehemiah exhibited this sympathy toward many of his brethren who were suffering terrible afflictions in their bondage while he was cupbearer to the king. Nehemiah 1:3-4 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.
CONC: I pray that God may give us the grace to be sympathetic with one another as Peter admonished. We appreciate others identifying with us in our suffering, whatever it may be. Let us identify with others as though we are suffering with them. When we have this kind of sympathy for one another, the bond of unity will grow and prosper.
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