Call of Character - Sensitivity
Sensitivity can be defined as perceiving the true thoughts, feelings and needs of others and responding appropriately. Sensitivity is a great virtue for it brings about harmony, peace and wellness to others. Insensitivity on the other hand, is often the cause of conflict, pain and division in relationships, in family, in workplace, in the nation and sadly in the church.
Some people think that sensitivity is all about temperament, the way you’ve been made. Others think that it’s to do with family background or life experiences. But really, it goes much deeper than all that, it has to do with a person’s inner spirit, a matter of the heart.
To be sensitive is to be tenderhearted.The Greek word for “compassionate” (eusplagchnos) is also translated “tenderhearted”; it means a heart of affection, kindness and sympathy, these are the qualities of sensitivity.
To be sensitive is to be tenderhearted; on the other hand, to be insensitive is to be hardhearted. When we harden our hearts, we lose the capacity to understand and empathize, we don’t listen to people well, we are quick to judge, to criticize; we become harsh, uncaring, indifferent or even cruel.
We are called to be like Jesus, to be sensitive and tenderhearted to others. Jesus is the most sensitive person in all history. No one ever cared about people like He did. He had compassion for the multitudes and He met their needs- spiritual, emotional as well as physical needs. Jesus was sensitive towards individuals. In the midst of huge crowds; He stopped and ministered to individuals. He spoke to a blind man, Bartimaeus and healed him. He called out a woman with bleeding problem, healed her and affirmed her faith.
Jesus was sensitive towards adults as well as children. Throughout the Gospel record, we see the Lord Jesus relating to different people in different ways. He was always sensitive to their different needs and problems. And He responded to them individually with empathy and genuine care.
Being sensitive doesn’t necessarily mean meek and mild. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and teachers of the Law in front of the multitudes calling them hypocrites, sons of hell, blind guides, blind fools, and other names. At the Temple, He drove out the traders and overturned the money changers’ tables. Was He being insensitive to them too? In reality, it’s not Jesus who was insensitive, those people were insensitive to God and Jesus wanted to awaken them to their sins and blindness, so that they would change. Sometimes, the most sensitive and appropriate thing to do for someone is to confront and rebuke them in love.
Cultivating Sensitivity - Seeing with Jesus’ eyes
Firstly, sensitivity begins with seeing people as Jesus sees them.
Do you see them as objects, objects that either help you or hinder you? Or do you see them as human beings with a desire to be loved, understood and accepted?
When did you last look someone in the eyes and really see them, hear them, understand them?
When you see others, do you tend to see them through critical, skeptical or prejudiced eyes?
Jesus sees every individual as a special wonderful handiwork of God, a masterpiece of the Lord Almighty. No one is a nobody in God’s sight; they are all treasures to Him. Jesus shed His blood for them; His Spirit is seeking them out day and night to bring them into a right relationship with God.
Feeling with Jesus’ heart
Secondly, we need to empathize with others; feel what others are feeling.
If you are hardhearted, ask God to help you change inwardly. Enter into the feelings of others and ask God to give you a heart of flesh that beats with loving concern for others.
Jesus can empathize with our every feeling because He came to live like one of us; He endured the struggles and temptations, the pain and loss of man. Therefore if we keep in tune with His Spirit, we can feel for others with His heart and compassion.
Treating people as Jesus treats us
Going beyond feelings, we need to express those feelings in concrete ways. We need to treat others like Jesus treats us. Jesus loves us and He shows it. He doesn’t want us wondering whether or not we are loved.
We should also express our love and affection regularly to others so that they know how we feel about them. We begin by listening to them with our hearts as well as our heads. We speak words that build them up, and we avoid hurtful words and actions that tear them down.
When we sin, when we blow it, Jesus forgives us if we confess it. He continues to love us and encourage us. We should treat others in the same manner.
In conclusion, to grow in sensitivity is to grow in intimacy with Jesus. When our spirit is close to His Spirit, we will be able to see with His eyes, feel with His heart and respond to the needs of others appropriately.