Whatever Happened to Sympathy?

Whatever Happened to Sympathy? March 29, 2019

Have you noticed the disappearance of sympathy and how it’s been replaced with judgment?


Sympathy has been described as having pity or sorrow over someone else’s loss or misfortune, but sympathy can be encouraging to the one who needs it, giving them the support they need at the time they need it. Not that long ago, a lady was nearly in tears and told our Bible study group that while she was doing dishes, her wedding ring fell down the drain. I thought, “Oh no,” but before I could speak to offer her my sympathy, someone coldly said, “Well, you shouldn’t have put in near the sink! That wasn’t smart.” Another said, “Why’d you take it off in the first place?” Finally, I said what should have been said to begin with: “I am so sorry to hear that. That’s terrible. Were you able to get it out?” By then, the lady was shaken and just shook her head no. Instead of giving this woman a little sympathy when she needed it, they all seemed to blame her. They basically said it was her fault. Whether it was her fault or not is beside the point. No one cared to offer her sympathy. Instead, they criticized her “carelessness.” It’s not surprising that this lady eventually left the church. It wasn’t just that, but you could see that there was just no sympathy for her, but plenty of blame. Why? Maybe it’s just our nature to criticize and to blame people for what happens to them. That’s sad, because someday, we might need a little sympathy from someone, and the last thing we’d need is criticism.


One man who is a pastor of a prison church was troubling a lot of the church members. It was on account of his language. Not only that, even those who were not in the church complained about his foul mouth. I heard one complaint after another, but he always tried to justify his actions to everyone by saying he was raised around it. His father spoke that way all the time. He said that’s the reason he just can’t seem to stop. The problem with that thinking is he was trying to play on the people’s sympathy about the way he was raised to excuse his ongoing language. This is just an excuse they said, and slowly, members of this church are starting to leave. He ignored the fact that believers are new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), with new dispositions, being led by the Spirit (Gal 5:18). All believers are to “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:29). Swear words from a pastor are not befitting to the call, no matter what excuses there are. I heard it all the time when I worked in a machine shop, but I never brought it home. Our words either “give grace to those who hear,” or they see us talking just like the world, being no different from the world. No wonder they don’t want “that.” I cannot give my sympathy to someone who is supposed to be a pastor and tells me and others that “I just can’t stop cursing.” I can understand a slip up once in a while, but this pastor swears every day and all day. Believers ought to guard their mouth from “filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place” (Eph 5:4), and it’s especially true for a pastor or church leader. Really, it should be true of all believers.

Criminals as the Victims

Today it seems that criminals have become the victims, and the victims are sometimes criticized for placing themselves in certain situations. That may be true. Maybe they used bad judgment, but they’re still the victim, but sometimes, instead of the criminal being in the wrong, it’s almost as if the victim was at fault. Why have we suddenly begun to blame the victims at times, and not the criminals themselves? Does it seem that criminals are now playing on our sympathies and that they’re actually the “victim” in all this? Not in all cases. Many admit their guilt and confess their crimes, but it does seem that some criminals try to play on a jury or judge’s sympathies. At least their lawyers do. The criminal did what they did because of their bad childhood or their father hated them or beat them, or whatever they say. It may or may not be true, but as an adult, to try and use their backgrounds to try and justify their “poor choices,” means that they are not accepting responsibility for their actions. From my many years in the prison ministry, I’ve seen the fact that criminals who own their crimes are better off in the long run than those who don’t accept responsibility for their actions. Admission and confession is a giant step to rehabilitation.

Stand Alone

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”

For the criminal that blames their past for their present behavior, remember, their father was not there with them when they broke and entered, stole the car, or shot someone, so to try and blame him (or whoever or whatever they blame) for their crime, will not work in a court of law. The judge won’t drag the criminal’s father into court and sentence both. No, it is just as it says in the Bible, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:10). By saying “each one,” Paul means we will all be judged one at a time. We will be judged for what we have done, but also for what we haven’t done (Matt 25:41; 1 John 3:17). Believers won’t be judged as to whether they’ll enter the kingdom or not, but judged for what they did and didn’t do while here on earth (1 Cor 3:15), but in a court of law, the judge convicts the criminal, not those who are supposed to be responsible for the criminal’s actions. Of course, some are accessories to the crime, but that’s a different matter, but to excuse behavior strictly on the basis of a person’s past is to take no responsibility for their actions.


It’s not really hard to do. The next time someone suffers from a loss or some accident or similar event, try to be sympathetic. Even if they made a mistake, who doesn’t!? We all fall short, so if we are to expect sympathy from others, let us show it to others first. Remember our Lord. It is He “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:4). When the Apostle Paul was at a very low point in his ministry, God sent His comfort through the person of Titus, writing that “God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Cor 7:6). Finally, the Apostle Peter writes to me and to “all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Pet 3:8). When someone suffers a loss of some kind, don’t criticize…sympathize, so “if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,” and “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil 2:1, 3).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Christian Crier or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • Matthew 22:37

    I could forgive that cussing pastor. He is a work in progress just like every other Christian.

    Why everyone thinks a pastor can’t suffer from a spiritual problem I don’t know.

    Bad company does destroy good character in a person but the Fruit of the Spirit are supernatural attributes and could take time to manifest in a person’s life.

    I would never abandon someone fully dedicated to God for a little hiccup in his walk like that.

    Forgiveness is a supernatural virtue.

    Jesus said to forgive 7 times 70.

    Pastors seem to suffer from the sin of not being able to forgive themselves and from overly judgmental Christians.

    You can work on eradicating a sin by steady perseverance without crucifying yourself all over again about it.

    Just resolve never to give up til you break the habit. Bad habits are broken by steady perseverance all the time.

    Those Christians abandoning the pastor could have prayed for him. Are brothers suppose to abandon brothers in a fight with sin?

  • Matthew 22:37

    I never followed Jimmy Swaggart but I know a lot of people hate on him and his wiki bio says he fell into sin while being a preacher.

    Well I cannot read Swaggart’s heart only God can but what if Swaggart was tempted and fell then listened to God got back up again and persevered.

    God can make a way for fallen man. He has been doing it a long time now.

    Here is Swaggart singing. Let Me Thank You!

    And no I am not a follower of Swaggart. I know almost nothing about him or his ministry. I just stumbled on this video of him singing to God. I just know a lot of people get critical of him but how many people know his story or know him like God does.

    • Matthew 22:37

      The Foolish to Shame the Wise
      25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

      26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

      The above passage from 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, King James Version.

      God likes to use the weak to display His glory.

      • pud

        So your invisible undetectable “god” uses people eh? Tell me crazy person, why would an all powerful, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, timeless, immaterial, eternal “god” …

        #1 “NEED” anything

        #2 “USE” anyone

        • Matthew 22:37

          Get a copy of Strongman’s His Name What’s His Game by the Robesons and try exorcising that sin and devil in you once and for all.

          You are lawless and antichrist in your actions.

          Denying the resurrection makes you an antichrist. Along with all the other groups denying it. See 1 John 4 on it.

          I am not correcting you antichrist any more.

          You didn’t even have the courage to defy the devil.

          You are so weak you let sin rule you without a fight.

      • pud

        “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise”

        But your “BOOK” also says that “god” is not the author of confusion

        What kind of an asshole “god” would tinker with people in such a manner?

        Why would any “god” have need of such trite puppeteering

        See how ridiculous it and you are yet?

  • CruisingTroll

    Sympathy and judgement are not exclusive. Sympathy without judgement turns all too easily into enabling. Judgement without sympathy too often turns toxic. Ask the Holy Spirit for help in the right timing and mix of both for every situation.

    • Matthew 22:37

      Great advice. Sin is disabling. It is like leaven. Jesus is the cure to the leaven of sin taking over one’s thoughtlife.

      A good read on why Jesus said sin is leaven and the Old Testament compared it to leprosy is linked below.

      People have to be taught to resist sin and the devil.

      One has to be obedient to God’s training and learn how to putmon the whole armor of God to be able to beat the devil and stop sinning.

      Spiritual comprehension comes from obediently doing God’s will as expressed in His Word.

      The world likes to distract and destroy people’s focus on Jesus so they fail to be doers of God’s Word.

      1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? (ASV)

      Luke 12:1b-3 … he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing covered up, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. Wherefore whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light; and what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. (ASV)

      The explanation of the verses here:

      Lesson: A Little Leaven

    • pud

      Demonstrate the existence of this “holy spirit”

      • CruisingTroll

        I, Cruising Troll, need not demonstrate anything for your amusement, pud-troll.

        Grace and peace.

        • pud

          That’s right…you “need not” but if you were an intelligent rational person you “should” and “would” be able and willing to back up your claims…otherwise you’re just a “clanging gong”

          • CruisingTroll

            Mwahahahahahahahaahahahhhhhaaaaa…… stop, stop…

        • Jack Wellman

          Great point about the “mix of both” judgment and sympathy. Thank you.

  • Bria Lapoint

    this is one of the bigger reasons im not chirstian anymore. they have no compassion for other people. even comments like wait until judgement day come off as ignorant and cruel, you dont know what another person has been through or believes until you walk a mile in their shoes anyways.

    • pud

      Oh no…you forget! You’re created SICK and commanded to be well or else!! Your only hope is to admit how sick you are and then purchase some magical cure from a magical book …but only if your buy it from the correct store.

    • Jack Wellman

      Your decision to trust in Christ should not be based upon the behavior of believers, good or bad. That’s the wrong reason to reject Christ.

      • Brianna LaPoint

        Id rather trust in my own experiences than your misguided ill informed and ignorant but well meaning advice. also since youre a male i really dont want to take advice from you. because male christians are all about domination and subjugation. Oh and blocked because i was a christian and you disgust me.