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Superior Sympathy

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.

Every Old Testament high priest had to minister to people who were "ignorant and ... going astray" (v. 2). God made no provision but judgment for the high-handed sins of rebellion. But He did make provision when people sinned through ignorance or weakness. An Old Testament priest could identify with the sinners since he himself was a sinner. In fact, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest had to offer a sacrifice for himself before he could offer one for the nation (Lev. 16; Heb. 9:7)!

We would think that one sinner would have compassion for another sinner, but this is not always the case. Sin makes people selfish. Sin can blind us to the hurts of others. Sin can harden our hearts and make us judgmental instead of sympathetic. Remember how heartbroken Hannah, who was praying for a son, was accused by High Priest Eli of being drunk (1 Sam. 1:9-18)? And when King David was confronted with a story of a rich man's sin, he had no sympathy for him, even though David himself was a worse sinner (2 Sam. 12).

No, it is the spiritually minded person with a clean heart who sympathizes with sinners and seeks to help them. Because we are so sinful, we have a hard time helping other sinners; but because Jesus is perfect, He is able to meet our needs after we sin (Heb. 4:15-16).

Applying God's Truth:

  1. On a scale of 1 (least) to 10 (most), what would you say is your average level of compassion shown toward the sinful people with whom you come into contact?

  2. What can you learn from Jesus' example of "reverent submission"? Be specific.

  3. Is your status as "child of God" something you have begun to take for granted or, like Jesus, do you strive to continue to learn obedience from your sufferings?

Devotions for Confidence and Integrity ©2005 by Dr. Warren Wiersbe. Used by permission of David C Cook. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

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