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Sensitivity

vs. Callousness
Exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me

Key Verse

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
Romans 12:15

The operational definition of sensitivity is “exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me.” The Bible often uses the word tenderhearted in place of the word sensitivity, meaning one is considerate of others and what they are feeling and experiencing. As you interact with others, you can demonstrate a tender heart by observing, listening, and gently asking questions. Did you know that people communicate unspoken feelings and attitudes through their body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions? Body language, such as posture, hand gestures, and eye contact, often reflects someone’s true feelings. This unspoken communication is even more reliable than a person’s words. Our physical senses can detect verbal and nonverbal clues about someone’s spirit and emotions. If someone is excited, you can rejoice with him. If he is sad, you can sympathize with and encourage him.

A thermometer registers the temperature of the environment similar to the way a sensitive person perceives the attitudes and emotions of those around him.
Often a callous person closes up like a clam to protect himself from being hurt and, thus, ignores the true spirit and emotions of those around him.

The opposite of sensitivity is callousness. A physical callus is created when an area of the skin constantly rubs against another surface, such as a shovel handle or a violin string. The toughened skin (callus) reduces the area’s sense of feeling. Similarly, a person’s heart can become hardened (calloused) to the point that he does
not care about others. If a Christian allows sin to fester in his heart, his heart will become less tender to the Lord and to others. Such a person may even avoid interacting with others so that he will not be inconvenienced or hurt. Self-centeredness, fear, or bitterness give the devil an advantage and hinder the Christian from loving others and sharing the Gospel with power. Only when this guarded, insensitive person is willing to repent, forgive, and receive God’s forgiveness will his hardened heart soften toward the Lord and others.
(See Ephesians 4:30–32.)

Evaluation Questions

  • Am I learning to recognize when those around me are stressed, sad, or in pain?
  • Have I considered what it would be like to be in someone else’s situation?
  • Am I alert to a person’s nonverbal communication?
  • Before I speak, do I first consider how others may interpret what I am about to say?
  • As I read my Bible, am I aware of God’s Spirit speaking to me through Scripture?
  • Do I have a hardened heart because I have allowed bitterness in my heart or tolerated sin in my life?
  • How can I effectively communicate my interest and care to my family?
  • Do I ask questions and listen in a way that helps others feel safe to share their thoughts or opinions?
  • When have I heard and immediately obeyed the Holy Spirit’s promptings?

More About Sensitivity

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostilities.”
Henry W. Longfellow
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Sensitivity with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:

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Remember that He cares.

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:2–3 “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2
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Show that I care.

“. . . God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” I Corinthians 12:24–25
K

Consider the feelings of others.

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” I Peter 3:8
K

Notice others’ facial expressions.

“Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the inter­pretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.” Ecclesiastes 8:1
K

Listen carefully to others.

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” Romans 12:10
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Notice another’s tone of voice.

“There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.” Proverbs 12:18
K

Resist becoming hardhearted.

“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.” Hebrews 3:7–8
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Be tenderhearted.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
K

Empathize with others.

“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” I Corinthians 12:26
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Respond to His promptings.

“Quench not the Spirit.” I Thessalonians 5:19 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Sensitivity in Scripture

Two Prisoners and Their Plight

“And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.”
Genesis 40:6
When Joseph was seventeen years old, his ten jealous older brothers sold him into slavery. Merchants took him to Egypt, where he was bought by a high-ranking Egyptian official named Potiphar. As captain of the guard, Potiphar was in charge of the king’s personal security force. Daily, Joseph served diligently in the household of Potiphar, who quickly realized that the young Hebrew slave was trustworthy. Potiphar promoted Joseph to be overseer of his entire household. However, one day Joseph was falsely accused and thrown into prison! Yet, even in prison, Joseph continued to serve faithfully. God showed him favor, and the keeper of the prison entrusted Joseph with the management of the other prisoners. One day, two servants of Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, were imprisoned. As Pharaoh’s chief baker and chief butler, the two men were responsible for preparing his food and tasting whatever he drank to make sure it was not poisoned. These two servants had offended Pharaoh and had been thrown into prison in Potiphar’s house. The captain of the guard charged Joseph with the care of these two prisoners. What would Joseph observe one day as he attended to these prisoners? What would he ask them, and what would they answer?

Revealed in Nature

Snowshoe Hare

The snowshoe hare changes color in response to the changing seasons. Its sensitivity to changing amounts of light conforms its hair to blend with the background of white snow in winter and the brown forest floor in the summer. Without this unique provision for its protection, the hare would be easy prey for predators.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Through this study, children are encouraged to have a tender heart toward the Lord, to empathize with those who are suffering, and to rejoice with those who are rejoicing.

View the Sensitivity booklet sample:

Get the complete Sensitivity booklet with all four lessons & activities:

Free Resources for Sensitivity

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted . . . .”
Ephesians 4:32
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