“Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9 CSB
I love what the original Greek means for sympathetic, “having a fellow-feeling”. Also interesting, this is the only place philadelphos is found in the New Testament. It is the original Greek for “another” and means “only in the strictly Christian sense of loving each other as Christian brothers.” What this boils down to is we’re to have fellow-feeling for our Christian brothers and sisters. It is only talking about other followers of Christ in this particular verse.
Church is full of broken and hurt people. People who are sinners, who are struggling with sin, who are trying to overcome sin. If you haven’t been hurt by someone in church, odds are you will be eventually. Because they are people, imperfect people who Christ died for on the cross. We expect more out of people that are sitting in church on Sunday’s, listening to sermons, attending Bible studies, talking the talk than we do those who don’t attend church. As my mother used to always say, “They should know better.” But the truth is, they may not.
“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” Donald Miller A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
Here is the key to being like-minded and sympathetic: stop expecting people to be perfect. Whether they are in church or not, no one is perfect. But if Christ followers become known for their love of others, for their ability to be sympathetic and compassionate, wouldn’t that make everyone want to follow Him? Jesus didn’t expect me to be perfect. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect. Before He ever got on the cross, He knew He was dying for imperfect people. If Jesus didn’t expect people to be perfect, than why should we?
Stop expecting people to be perfect and like them for who God made them to be. It will help you be like-minded and sympathetic to those who are journeying with you on this path of life. It will help us create unity in the body of Christ. It will help us to love better, both God and others. It will help us release the hurt.