"As holy people . . . be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient.” Colossians 3:12 (GWT)
How deep are you willing to go?
There are many levels of fellowship. At church we greet one another an even hug. With most people we see at church, that's as deep as we get. When we greet one another we often ask, "How are ya doin'?" When we really just want to say "Hi."
Then there are our acquaintances, those people we talk to in the foyer. This is a little deeper because we even ask what is going on in these people's lives. But that's where the fellowship stops.
But in the first level real fellowship We get involved in the person's life. We go over one another's house and share meals together. We do stuff together. We care about one another.
But in the deepest level of all, we share in the hardships, sorrow and sufferings of that person, or in other words, we offer sympathy. When we offer sympathy to another, we don't give them advice, or a quick-fix. We listen and then allow ourself to feel what they are feeling. We validate the other person's feelings, and in doing so we build on our relationship with that person. Trust is formed, and true ministry can take place because that person feels safe and loved.
“A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14 NIV).