Sympathy or Compassion?

The two words "sympathy" and "compassion" are somewhat akin in meaning, but close analysis brings out an important difference in their connotation. A dictionary defines "sympathy" as "quality of being affected by the state or condition of another; fellow-feeling." In speaking with persons said to have a sympathetic nature, we find our own mood reflected, and we sometimes enjoy the sense of responsiveness awakened in another. When we learn in Christian Science to "judge righteous judgment," unbidden emotions are not permitted to enter without challenge. The student distinguishes between false human sympathy and true compassion.

On page 211 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, writes, "Sympathy with error should disappear." There is thus no virtue in false sympathy; it cannot possibly help anyone, for it is only an erroneous emotion. In the intimate associations of daily living we see the need of great care in the exercise of sympathy. The human so-called mind listens readily to tales of error. Wisdom, however, teaches us to reverse the wrong impression with the truth. False sympathy is one of error's ways of climbing into the sheepfold of our thinking. Being error, it cannot enter by the door, for only the truth comes in at the door of thought which is properly guarded. Sympathizing with a mistake is not the way to correct it; but Christian Science teaches one how to impart the knowledge of Truth which destroys error and suffering.

Faith and Logic
October 5, 1929

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