Once upon a time a struggling missionary was having lunch with a wealthy Christian businessman. The businessman was caught up in all the deals he was doing and money he was making. The missionary was in dire straits financially, but never mentioned his needs, choosing instead to boast in the Lord and what He was doing in his life and ministry overseas. The businessman was insensitive to the needs of the missionary.
A group of successful pastors from large churches were fellowshipping together at a prayer retreat. One very discouraged and troubled pastor in their midst was contemplating quitting the ministry. Nothing seemed to be going right for him. His marriage, family, and finances had gone sour. Hope deferred makes the heart sick so he refrained from all the fun and festivities that the others were engaged in at this function. No one noticed him or paid attention to him. He went home and later quit the ministry and left his wife and family. The pastors were insensitive.
Jesus told a parable of the Good Samaritan, which sums up how insensitivity can be such a part of religion.
Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him,and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion” (Lk. 10:30-33).
Professional religionists, exemplified by the priest and the Levite were insensitive to this wounded man’s needs while the despised Samaritan was commended for his sensitivity and compassion shown to the man. This is a reminder of what we often witness in our social media and superficial world today. Believers theorize over doctrinal issues, vigorously defend their political position, entangle themselves in strife over such trivial matters while skipping over the weightier matters of the law, or should I say, the heart, such as justice, mercy, and true faith. We quibble over definitions and theories, but sometimes fall so short of genuine love and active faith – not that any of us do this intentionally or with malice but that is the state of an insensitive heart. Isn’t it interesting in this parable how insensitivity is often connected to professional religion? Religion can harden the human spirit if it does not stay connected to the hidden and intimate places of the heart.
It reminds me of a time when I was caught in the web of it myself. Knowledge had puffed me up and the profession of ministry had made me insensitive. Sermonizing, ministry work, and theoretical discussions had trumped practical demonstrations of love. Thank God He woke me up and shook me from that damnable disease of hypocrisy. During an extended time of prayer and fasting I received this word from the Lord that changed my life.
“I do a work in you of pure religion. I do a work in you to place you among My captains. I do a work of love in you. I do a work of sensitivity to My heart in you.
Behold My heart as I was moved with compassion for the widow at Nain whose son had just died. Behold My heart as I picked up the little children and blessed them. Behold My heart as I called and healed the blind beggars.
I do a work in you to increase the fruit of your compassion. I do a work in you to increase true ministry. I do a work in you to make you more skillful in My anointing. As you’ve heard My servant say, ‘Truth and compassion equal skill in My anointing.’ I speak the truth, but I am moved with compassion.
Truth does not move Me. Compassion moves Me. I am working both on your speaking and on your compassion, so that your life and your works would be found pure in Him who moves.”
That living word changed my heart and my life forever as I meditated on its message.
Some indicators of insensitivity are selfishness, murmuring and complaining, lack of appreciation and unthankfulness, subtle arrogance, a sense of entitlement, lack of courtesy, kindness, hospitality and empathy. Cultivating sensitivity begins by getting in touch with your own heart and the Spirit of God who has shed abroad God’s love there.
Sensitivity is putting yourself in the place of another, and doing unto others what you would have them do to you. This often requires sacrifice and being inconvenienced, but love feeds you and fuels you so that it doesn’t seem like a sacrifice. The true love of God really knows no sacrifice.
Whenever I walk in love I am fueled. Acts of kindness and compassion come back to me. I am watered and showered with the love of the Father. Even sinners who do not have the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:5) will often say, “it felt so good to help that person.” They are just basing their feelings on a natural love that all human beings have. How much more is this true for us who have the love of God in our hearts!
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 Jn. 4:16).
Abiding in love is abiding in God. Get that! If you want more of God’s presence in your life be more sensitive to His love. Believers can easily be misled into thinking that God’s presence is only manifested in Christian meetings, conferences, concerts, or worship services. I love and enjoy those corporate gatherings, too, but don’t be event oriented, and miss out on a daily walk with God that can be very fulfilling when you learn to love as He loves. This kind of walk begins with developing a sensitivity.
The reason some believers experience and enjoy the presence of God on a regular basis more than others is mainly due to their sensitivity. Sensitivity usually leads to receptivity. The more sensitive you are the more receptive you are to the Spirit of God and His love.
On the other hand, insensitivity is a product of selfishness or self-centeredness.