by Jeannette Haley
“Never sympathize with the thing that is stabbing God all the time.
God has to hurt the thing that must go.”
― Oswald Chambers
Do you ever find yourself asking yourself, “What is wrong with people these days?” Besides the obvious traits such as self-indulgence, willful ignorance, repudiation of the truth (and reality), stubbornness, and sheer stupidity, there lies a dangerous undercurrent of dissatisfaction fed by streams of “toxic sympathy.”
In mankind’s incessant push to change God into the likeness of a golden calf that he can fashion at will, and worship on impulse, he has managed to tip the scales of social conscience in favor of paganism. Of course, this modern-day paganism is a “one size fits all” mentality that ranges from the lowest rung of demonic expression all the way up this ungodly “ladder” to the highest and most advanced scientific accomplishments. This is ecumenism at best, and Satanism at worst. Anyone who is not grounded in the Word of God, rooted in the Rock of Ages, truly born again, walking in the Spirit, watchful and diligent, will most likely be swept to destruction by its insidious undertow.
What makes this powerful, all encompassing end-times deception so alluring and desirable? Why will people gamble with their soul in order to pursue after their own ideas, conclusions, desires, and take on a matter when it is plainly contrary to God and His Word? The answer is, as always, found in Scripture. People choose darkness, because they love it. Darkness covers their evil deeds. (See John 3: 19.) Add to that what 1 John 2:15, 16 plainly states, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
The natural tendency of most people (unless they are very young children) is to question what God says, His motivation for saying it, and His intentions toward them. Even Eve, when she was yet innocent and without sin, allowed herself to be convinced by Satan that God had withheld something from her, thus putting doubt in her mind as to the verity of God’s Word, His character, and His intentions toward her and Adam. She was tempted, as was Adam who was “with her,” in all three points of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, and chose to go with their own desires and conclusions. Perhaps Eve even felt a twinge of self-pity that justified her decision. What we do know is that she was thoroughly beguiled. Surely all of her emotions had been stirred up by the subtlety of Satan, causing confusion and doubt.
In considering the many polluted streams that feed the darkness of deception, misdirected sympathy has to be one of the most subtle, and dangerous. Well-meaning people, both saved and unsaved, find themselves at points of confusion when it comes to the difference between sympathy and godly compassion. As they say, “hindsight is better than foresight,” and this is so true in my own life. As I look back at most of the major mistakes and wrong decisions I made from which I suffered horrible consequences, it was from the point of sympathy. Compassion is solid ground when it is based on Spirit and truth, but sympathy is an emotional slippery slope that blurs common sense, clouds good judgment, and will always sweep you off your feet and fling you into a quagmire of quicksand. Without the grace and mercy of God, and His intervention, there is no hope of recovering oneself out of such a dilemma.
Sympathy is the favorite “warhorse” multitudes ride whose lifeblood is causes, agendas, ideas, and philosophies. It is the fuel for the fire of socialism, humanism, Marxism, and Communism, and, tragically, for the social gospel that has permeated traditional Christianity. Misdirected sympathy has replaced the truth of “it is written,” as breathed by the Holy Spirit of God, with the idolatrous golden calf of man’s vain, worldly philosophies. The darkness engulfing the world today is a deadly mixture of every unimaginable evil, borne on the siren song of misdirected sympathy, which calls good evil, and evil good. This “golden calf” is, of course, all “politically correct” you know.
Cain is an example of a man who had a great deal of self-pity, or sympathy for himself, but none for his brother whom he slew. Rather than repent and seek reconciliation with God, he went out from the presence of the LORD. Self-pity, if it is entertained long enough, can open the door to a spirit of self pity, just as unforgiveness and anger can open a door to tormenting spirits.
We also see misdirected sympathy in the case of King Saul when he disobeyed God and spared certain of the flock of the Amalekites and their king, Agag. The excuse he gave Samuel was that he feared the people. The question is, did he truly fear the people more than he feared the LORD? Or, was he an ancient version of a modern-day “socialist” whose misdirected sympathies were in direct contradiction to God and His ways?
Socialists today are redefining the very Person and work of Jesus Christ, making him out to be a socialist through their propagandizing words and actions. Because the preaching of the Gospel has been overshadowed, weakened, and diminished by humanism within the church world, many people are buying into this lie, hook, line, and sinker. After all, the “father” of the socialism lie is none other than Satan himself. He is a master at manipulating humans through misdirected sympathy for all the wrong reasons and causes, motivating them to trample underfoot the truth of God’s Word while they march on to call good evil, evil good, and recreate the world that they worship into a one-world “utopia.”
A careful study of John 12:1-11 reveals that Judas Iscariot, not Jesus, was the “socialist” through and through. After Mary took “a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair,” Judas demonstrated, first in word, then in deed, the heart of a bona fide socialist. Consider what he said, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” We read in verse 6, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”
Judas’ statement reveals much about his character. If he was truly concerned that Mary’s actions were selfish and unsympathetic to the poor, if he was a godly man, he would have kept it to himself until a more private and appropriate time to speak to Jesus about it. Instead, he exalted himself while at the same time throwing doubt on Jesus—doubt on who He was, why He came, and why He was receiving that which could have helped the poor. Judas’ public question challenged Jesus’ teachings concerning the poor, and belittled Mary’s sacrifice at the same time. Like one of Satan’s well-aimed darts, his sharp tongue confused others (see Mark 14:4) as well as exposed his own unbelief in Jesus’ teachings of His crucifixion and resurrection. Judas revealed his disdain for the sacredness of this holy moment of sacrifice and worship. To him, Jesus wasn’t worth “wasting” precious ointment on. Judas and his attitude towards the beauty of holiness and preciousness of Christ, along with his cruel, deceptive tongue, wicked selfishness, deceptive ways, unbelief, and his platform of “sympathy for the poor” would catapult him to the head of the Socialist Party, USA today. If they could only find a way to retrieve him out of hell to lead their cause, I have no doubt but that they would do it in a heartbeat.
Notice that Jesus defended Mary’s actions, putting Judas in his place. He said, “Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this” John 12:7. In Mark 14:6-9, we read, “Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” Can you imagine the chagrin of this prideful traitor being rebuked in front of the people by Jesus, and a woman being exalted for her ministry to Him? At this point, Judas had an opportunity to fall on his face and repent; however, he further hardened his heart and went out to the chief priests and betrayed Jesus. (See Matthew 26:14.)
Amazingly, there are many people who feel sorry for Judas. One large church that we know of, in their annual Easter play, emphasizes this misdirected sympathy throughout the production. What an affront to God! Jesus said of Judas, “…woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born” Matthew 26: 24. If you want an accurate and prophetic description of Judas Iscariot, study Psalm 109. Unlike the “politically correct” socialists, God has no sympathy for Satan, or his followers.
Many years ago in a conversation with a certain Christian leader, I was flabbergasted when he mournfully stated that he was going to really feel “sorry for Satan” when God casts him into the lake of fire. This is a prime example of how screwed up our thinking can get when we shun the great commandment of Jesus; namely, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” Matthew 22:37-40. Logically, we can conclude that if we love the Lord accordingly, then we will be in agreement with His Word, His ways, His precepts, His commandments, His works, His judgments, and everything that has anything to do with the Lord whether we, in our finite minds, understand it or not. If God says it, then it is right, and that is that! Otherwise, we end up being judges of God, demoting Him to our level, and exalting ourselves over Him in our worldly “wisdom”. This is fertile ground for gross deception and delusion, such as the social gospel that emphasizes the “goodness” of “poor” mankind, and puts forth a perverted view of the “love of God.” Take note: The social gospel is “another gospel” with “another Jesus” and “another spirit!” (See 2 Corinthians 11:3, 4.)
Nowhere in God’s Word are we commanded to feel sorry for people, including Jesus, or ourselves; rather, we are commanded to love one another. Sympathy for the plight of others may grip our hearts and stir up our emotions, but compassion will go a step farther and do something to alleviate the suffering if at all possible. Compassion means “to enter in and suffer with.” Sympathy doesn’t necessarily require action and sacrifice on our part, but compassion does. A perfect example of such godly compassion is the story of the Good Samaritan. He could have very well felt sympathy for the poor victim of thieves and yet bypassed him and continued on his journey as did the priest and the Levite. (See Luke 10:25-37.)
Rayola said, “When you feel sorry for somebody, it gives you a cause to do right or just by them so you can feel good about yourself.” Often, too, you can feel guilty and sorry for people when you fail to play their “game” or bow down to them. This is a subtle trap to avoid! It is helpful to realize that sympathy for people leaves your pride intact while compassion requires humility, sacrifice, and unfeigned love.
Oswald Chambers, one of my favorite biblical teachers, summed it up well. In his devotion, THE SACRAMENT OF THE SAINT, Chambers quoted Scripture, then wrote as follows: “Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing” 1 Peter 4:19
“To choose to suffer means that there is something wrong; to choose God’s Will even if it means suffering is a very different thing. No healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he chooses God’s will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. No saint dare interfere with the discipline of suffering in another saint.
“The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. The people who do us good are never those who sympathize with us, they always hinder, because sympathy enervates. No one understands a saint but the saint who is nearest to the Saviour. If we accept the sympathy of a saint, the reflex feeling is – Well, God is dealing hardly with me. That is why Jesus said self-pity was of the devil (see Matt. 16:23). Be merciful to God’s reputation. It is easy to blacken God’s character because God never answers back, He never vindicates Himself. Beware of the thought that Jesus needed sympathy in His earthly life; He refused sympathy from man because He knew far too wisely that no one on earth understood what He was after. He took sympathy from His Father only, and from the angels in heaven. (Cf. Luke 15:10.)
Notice God’s unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say – God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is.”
We must, as God’s people, make sure that we are on that “straight and narrow” road and not allow misdirected sympathy to sidetrack us into the miry clay of socialism in any form. Misdirected sympathy can quickly reduce a person into confusing and perverted world of unreality which leads to frustration, depression, anger, and hopelessness. Take, for example, the extremes (as in Hinduism) of misdirected sympathy for every life form on the planet (with the exception of humans, both born and unborn) of dangerous predators such as wolves, sharks, snakes, alligators, and other terrible creatures. It reminds me of that old saying, “Me thinks that the whole world is crazy, except for me and thee, and sometimes I wonder about thee.” While we may snicker at that, it is true that we live in perilous times as the war continues to rage against the foundations of true Christianity, and for our minds and souls. Propaganda and twisted truths are taking a toll on the Christian ranks. Can we, therefore, realign ourselves with the Almighty, and with King David declare, “Do not I hate them, O LORD that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” Psalm 139:22?