“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” — Galatians 6:2, NIV
As human beings, we can be quick to form our own ideas and opinions. However, we also long to be understood and heard. So, how do we balance these two contradicting ideas and desires?
When we turn to the Bible, we can see God wants us to love those around us and care about them like we do ourselves. For example, Galatians 6:2 tells us to carry each other’s burdens. In order to love and care about the hardships of others, we must develop understanding and be willing to listen to the perspectives of others.
Our first response to others shouldn’t be that of our own concern or opinions but rather one of empathy and love.
5 Ways To Become a More Understanding Person
“Turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding — indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” — Proverbs 2:2-5, NIV
None of us are perfect. That means none of us are ever going to be one hundred percent on the mark at being understanding toward others. However, we can practice being understanding and grow in our desire to treat others how we would like to be treated.
Here are a few areas where we can develop and practice understanding people:
1. Listen and Learn
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” — James 1:19, NIV
Listening and learning make a huge impact when it comes to making others feel understood. If we are willing to hear what others have to say, we are showing others that what they have to offer is valued.
James 1:19 says we should be “quick to listen.” How often are we quick to speak but not quick to listen? At times, even if we are listening, we may not take to heart what others are saying or try to see from their point of view. We do not have to agree with someone or see eye-to-eye to take the time to listen and learn from what they have to say.
As a theoretical example, say a friend brings up that you haven’t been making time for them recently. You can choose to pay attention to why they feel that way and put yourself in their shoes and see from their point of view. Even if you do not agree with your friend, it does not mean you cannot listen to what they are communicating to you. This demonstrates understanding.
This does not mean we should never state our thinking. In fact, quite the opposite. We should be able to communicate with others gently and kindly, but listening is of great importance when it comes to understanding others.
2. Know Your Own Weaknesses and Show Humility
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” — Ephesians 4:2, NIV
At times, we may think we know everything we need to about a particular topic. However, the chances are that we do not know everything and there is still more we can learn and understand.
When it comes to being understanding, we must show humility. We do not know everything, and we are not always right. In order to understand others, we must not put ourselves or our knowledge on a pedestal.
For example, imagine a loved one lost a dear friend in their life. We may not have personally experienced this kind of hurt or may be missing pieces about what our loved one is going through. It is important that we remain humble when trying to understand and care about others. We may not have a solution or perhaps even the right words to say. However, we can still be empathetic toward our loved one and show up for them. This humility and honesty can help people feel understood and cared about.
3. Choose to Love
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” — 1 John 2:9-11, NIV
Sometimes we may not fully understand where someone is coming from. This does not give us an excuse to forgo showing them love. We can choose to love those we don’t agree with or understand. This shows others that they are important even when differences arise.
It is far from easy; however, it is worth it. Jesus loved even those who hated him. We can love those who we do not understand or relate to. Perhaps in the process we will learn more about them and begin to understand where they are coming from.
Most of us have people in our lives who have different beliefs or values. Being understanding does not mean agreeing but rather choosing to love a person the best we can. Even if they are engaging in hurtful activities or words, we do not have to respond in the same manner.
4. Show Others You Care
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” — Galatians 6:9-10, NIV
Being understanding is not just about how we think, it's also about our actions. We can do little things to show others we understand and care about them. Perhaps we send an encouraging text to a friend who has been anxious lately. Maybe we see that a family member is overwhelmed, and we take on one or two of their responsibilities for the day.
Listening and caring about what happens in someone’s life shows you are trying to be an understanding person toward them and their situation. These little things can demonstrate that you have a willing heart to help and that you are trying to love them to the best of your abilities and level of understanding.
5. Trust God When You Can’t Understand
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” — Proverbs 3:5, NIV
There are times when it may be nearly impossible for us to understand others. Perhaps, we have been hurt too much by them or we just have too many differences. In these situations, we must trust God. We do not know the answer to everything and we cannot understand everyone, but we can trust in God’s promises and follow His Word.
Are you interested in growing in your faith and knowledge of the Bible with a community of understanding people? Grand Canyon University offers theology and ministry degree programs to help you understand God’s Word and your purpose.
Approved by the Global Outreach Coordinator of The Department of Spiritual Life on Sept. 15, 2022.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.