The Berean Expositor
Volume 17 - Page 71 of 144
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Christ, as Lord, and ourselves as servants for Jesus' sake, and finally, let us be neither
downcast nor elated by comparing ourselves with ourselves, but leaving all judgment
until "that day" (I Cor. 4: 4, 5), let us seek closer conformity to the only standard that
matters, the will and word of God.
pp. 156, 157
We have looked at the subject of sympathy as exhibited to others. Shall we just look
at the way in which a truly sympathetic nature must be developed. If we have grasped
the meaning of the word we shall know that no amount of reading or study can give us
this priceless Christ-like thing, for it means "suffering together".
Have we not felt at times how impossible it has been for a big healthy man, tanned by
sun and wind, with never an ache or a pain, to have real sympathy with the delicate
invalid, the sufferer from chronic headache, the one whose nerves are all on end, whose
digestion makes life a burden. He may give kindly words, but however well intended we
can sense the one fact that renders them of little value--he has never suffered. When we
reach out to Christ for sympathy as we fall into this or that trial along the way, we know
that His words will not be of the unfeeling variety, but that when we tell Him our griefs
He knows. Well then, this has a bearing upon ourselves. If we seek a life all sunshine, all
roses, with no clouds, no thorns, we are but seeking a life of self. We are avoiding the
opportunity of helping our fellow-members in their time of trouble. Paul gives full
expression to this secret process in II Cor. 1: 3-5:--
"Blessed by God . . . . . Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able
to comfort them which are in any trouble, BY THE COMFORT wherewith we ourselves
are comforted OF GOD. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation
also aboundeth by Christ."
Paul had been taught many things by revelation, but it was necessary that he should
himself be in tribulation, and have an abounding share of the sufferings of Christ, before
he could be the channel of the comfort of God. Paul could not minister comfort by
passing on a mere recipe; the only comfort he found available was "The comfort
wherewith he himself had been comforted of God". In the midst, therefore, of your tears,
let this rainbow be seen. You stand by the sick bed or the open grave; you lie prostate,
and despair even of life, you know the bitterness of no employment. You may let these
things embitter you, make you murmur and complain, or permit them to mellow you, and
send you on the Christ-like ministry of soothing others with the balm you yourself
received from God. Christ Himself has suffered being tempted, and because of this He
can succour and sympathize.  May we all therefore be blessedly exercised by our
experiences, and reckon that we have been "graciously given on the behalf of Christ, not
only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake".