“CAN’T YOU HEAR YOUR BROTHER CRYING?”
And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. Then they sat down to eat. Genesis 37:25-25a
A group of grown men seized their own flesh and blood brother, stripped him, threw him into a pit, and then commenced to sit down and eat a meal. They were immune to the despair they inflicted. It’s unconscionable, or is it?
Consider how callousness starts. Brothers and sisters, even very young, reach out to hit their sibling and discover a surprising sense of glee when they realize they can make them cry. Good parents come and try to instill empathy. “What you did hurt your sister. Tell her you’re sorry!” And yet, the apology is hard to muster. Cruelty is in our fallen nature.
How will I develop keen sensitivity to others’ pain? How will I feel another’s sadness when I see pools of tears in their eyes? How will I feel enough remorse when my need for revenge caused me to injure someone beyond human repair? How will I come to regret an angry outburst against my child when I hear him whimpering in his room? Without God, callouses of my heart grow thicker with the years. I can hear weeping and still walk away unmoved.
But with God, I am affected and changed by His Spirit that lives inside. When I see someone’s pain, His compassion rises up and challenges me to express it. When I wound another with my angry words, His Spirit convicts me and opens my eyes to see the damage. In this life, I will continue to sin but when I do, I will feel how God feels about it and try to quickly make things right.
As I’m writing this, I’m suddenly aware that I can be callous to God’s tears. Does knowing that I will hurt Him cause me to sin less? Or do I avoid sin because I hate the consequences? That should be a side issue. What should deter me is knowing that my sin hurts my relationship with Jesus.
So, how difficult is it to apologize to Jesus when I’ve hurt Him? Excusing or rationalizing my behavior creates spiritual callouses. The cure is to spend time in the presence of God. Being near Him will sharpen my recognition of good and evil and give me the tender, teachable spirit of a toddler. Spiritual regeneration is when God turns back the clock to transform the person with a hardened heart of stone into a person with childlike sensitivities. At rebirth, I am putty in His hands as He begins to awaken my heart to beat like His.
Keep nudging me, Jesus. Keep asking, “Do you see it? Do You feel it?” Make me more aware of what moves you. Amen