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20th October: Understanding People

Jesus knew men so well, all of them, that he needed no evidence from others about a man, for he himself could tell what was in a man. John 2:25 (NEB). He understood human nature. (JBP)

The Lord Jesus did not need to reply on gossip or on the social worker's report or any other roundabout way of assessing a man's character. He himself could tell... he understood. If we have anything at all of his mind, we too should be demonstrating something of his understanding. This may demand conscious effort on our part. It is easier to blame someone for being hard to understand than it is to try to understand him.

Why did our Lord understand human nature so well? Because he had deliberately taken upon himself the likeness of men. He was interested in us and became involved with us. His interest expressed itself as self-effacing love. His involvement went as far as identification and sacrifice.

Does this tell me why I find it hard to understand people? I do not care enough about them, and I avoid getting myself too involved. Therefore I have to rely on the care and involvement of others to explain to me my patient's problems.

This is an era of unprecedented scientific advance. In our enthusiasm for the new knowledge we may be tempted to forget the old wisdom. There is need to remember the person within the patient, to give imaginative as well as intensive care. God is unveiling to us more of his secrets, more of his mind. Although there is no searching of his understanding, yet he wants to share with us more of the understanding that he as Creator has of human structure and of human nature. Interest in our patients must not be confined to elucidating the clinical problems: we must also become involved in reaching a deeper understanding of their personal needs. Indeed, the second may often help toward the first.

O master, grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled
as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love with all my soul.

Sebastian Temple

Further reading: 1 Ki 3:7-13.


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