It’s week 21 of The ABCs of Christian Character series. For the past several months, Joyice Harris of Raising Boys Homeschool and I have been sharing weekly posts about the Godly character traits we wish to instill within our children. We’ve covered quite a bit of ground since our series began in June. You can check out the list of traits I’ve covered by visiting this page. The trait I’m sharing today is Understanding while Joyice is discussing Upright Character.
What is the definition of the word understanding?
Understanding is defined as being sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings.
What does the Bible say about being understanding?
There are so many things I love about Jesus. His mercy, love, compassion, and patience are precious to me, but the one thing I most love about the Savior is His understanding nature. The Bible tells us that He understands our problems because He, like you and me, experienced hurt, sorrow, disappoint, pain, betrayal, and more here on Earth. The Bible tells us so, but carefully notes that Christ endured all of this but without sin. Note the words of Hebrews 4:15.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
Many of us recognize this and run to Him for comfort when we’re broken and fragile. New Jersey native and hymn writer Johnson Oatman noted that Jesus was truly the One who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) when he wrote the words to the famous hymn No, Not One. The refrain reminds us that…
Jesus knows all about our struggles,
He will guide till the day is done;
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No, not one! No, not one!
Indeed Jesus does understand our struggles. Just consider his encounters with the woman at the well, the ten lepers, and his deep personal relationships with the disciples. Jesus understands us. And His desire to understand others ought to inspire us to do the same. Though we cannot understand others in same divine manner as Christ, our Lord yet wants us to show understanding toward others.
Teaching our girls to be understanding:
Maintaining an understanding attitude can be difficult. For many, including me, it’s not always a natural inclination. Being an understanding person often takes out out of our comfort zones and forces us to stretch and bend in unnatural ways. However, with God’s help we can bend without breaking.
This is exactly what my husband and I are trying to teach our daughters as they deal with one another. Our lessons on understanding begin by teaching them how be more understanding of their sisters. Here’s what we’re teaching our daughters.
Pray. We constantly remind the girls of the importance of being prayerful. Only God knows what each of them is really feeling and what they’re truly struggling with. When we pray with them, we remind each girl to ask God to reveal how she can be a blessing to her sister. This happens when they come to God with a desire to understand one another.
Don’t jump to conclusions or take things personally. So many issues arise among the girls because they’ve jumped to an incorrect conclusion instead of seeking to find out what is really at the heart of a matter. Sugar Plum may be grumpy about having to go to homeschool co-op and her grumpy attitude may cause to snap at her sister during breakfast. Though it is not good for Sugar Plum to be grumpy or snappy, Sweet Pea would respond differently if she knew the source of her sister’s grumpiness had nothing to do with her personally. Sugar Plum was feeling anxious about having to do an oral presentation before her peers and that anxiety came out in the form of grumpiness. Once the true source of the grumpiness is revealed, we can pray together about the real issue.
Be willing to hear the other persons point of view. Sometimes an upset person just needs a listening ear. Taking the time to listen to another person nearly always helps us understand how they’re feeling. Once we understand how they’re feeling, we can then ask the Lord to show us how we can help meet their needs or show them support. Many times, the girls aren’t seeking advice from one another. They merely want to be heard and understood. This attitude of understanding can diffuse many potentially explosive situations.
A prayer for understanding:
Dear Lord, thank you being our Heavenly Father, the One understands us better than we understand ourselves. Your understanding is a marvelous blessing because it shows that You know exactly how we feel. Because you understand, we can come to You with our every one of our concerns, fears, and worries. Thank you for refusing to brush us aside with words like, You’ll get over it or Stop whining. As you show understanding to us, help us to be more understanding of others, seeing them more like You do, and being will to help them as You would. Make us more like You dear Lord. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
© 2014, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.