The third biblical step toward restoring a relationship is to sympathize with the other person’s feelings.
If you’re going to restore broken relations, you need to use your ears more than your mouth. Before attempting to solve any disagreement you must first listen to the other’s feelings. Paul advised, “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.” (Philippians 2:4 TEV)
The phrase “look out for” is the Greek word skopos, from which we form our words telescope and microscope. It means pay close attention! Focus on their feelings, not the facts. Begin with sympathy, not solutions.
Don’t try to talk people out of how they feel at first. Just listen and let them unload emotionally without being defensive. Nod that you understand even when you don’t agree. Feelings are not always true or logical. In fact, resentment makes us act and think in foolish ways. David admitted, “When my thoughts were bitter and my feelings were hurt, I was as stupid as an animal.” (Psalm 73:21-22 TEV) We all act beastly when hurt.
In contrast, the Bible says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 NIV) Listening says, “I value your opinion, I care about our relationship, and you matter to me.” The clich_ is true: People don’t care what we know until they know we care.
—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional
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