It is easy to belittle the overweight man when you eat all you want and never gain a pound.
It is easy to ridicule the chronically ill when you haven’t been sick a day in your life.
It is easy to be exasperated with the parents of a special needs child when you don’t have a special needs child.
It is easy to say, “They just need to spank that kid more” when it isn’t your child.
It is easy to say abuse never happens when it never happens to you.
It is easy to say that sexual assault isn’t that bad, when it didn’t happen to you.
It is easy to say, “I know that guy. He is such a wonderful man. He could never do something like that” if you aren’t the one he has preyed upon.
It is easy to say there is no such thing as a wolf when you refuse to see the sheep’s clothing.
It is easy to rail against welfare and food stamps if you have never been hungry.
It is easy to scoff and mock the one who struggles with same-sex attraction when all of your sexual sins are vanilla and hetero.
It is easy to tell a woman that she has to return to her husband when you have never been in physical or emotional danger.
It is easy to tell a person with anxiety or depression to “get over it” when you don’t have anxiety or depression.
It is easy to say, “Words can’t hurt you” when you have never been subjected to the repeated and regular assault of vicious and contemptuous words.
It is easy to tell another parent how to raise their child.
It is easy to tell your unbelieving neighbor that all they need is Jesus when they are bleeding from wounds you can’t see and couldn’t understand.
It is easy to tell someone that racism doesn’t exist anymore – especially if you are white and middle-class.
What is hard is to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
What is hard is to bear one another’s burdens.
What is hard is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
What is hard is to “esteem the other better than yourself, in lowliness of mind.”
To do what is hard takes patience. To do what is hard means to give of yourself and be quick to hear. It takes sacrifice and love and empathy and kindness.
To do what is hard means we have to put aside our pride and understand that we are not the measure of a man, and our experiences are not the infallible, inerrant final word. To do what is hard means that we must put on Christ,
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Phi 2:6-8)
But in order to do that, we must put to death the old man. It is the old man that is the expert on everyone else’s life. It is the old man that is the busybody and talebearer. The wicked are characterized by scoffing, not the righteous.
The new man is different. He is being conformed to the image of Christ, who never ridiculed, never mocked, never belittled. When the poor and the lame and the blind and the deaf came to him, he healed them. He listened. He fed them. He commanded us to do the same.
Paul said that the only one capable of helping someone with a fault is the “spiritual one” (Galatians 6:1). The spiritual one is the one led by the spirit, filled with the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, patience…”
The spiritual one is the one who has learned how to listen, to walk alongside the wounded. She is the one with patience and longsuffering. He speaks words of kindness and edification, not mocking and ridicule.
It takes the new birth to be a spiritual one.
Until you have learned to listen, study to be silent. You don’t know everything. Until then, pray for wisdom. Be diligent to listen. Quit being afraid of people different than you and don’t fear the reproach of men for doing what Christ commanded.
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. (Phi 4:5)