(Hebrews 13:3) Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering

Empathy is not the same as sympathy. Sympathy involves feeling the same feelings another person has. Thus, sympathy is mainly an emotional thing. But empathy is mainly cognitive; it goes beyond feeling for someone to ameliorating the pains by the practice of love. Empathy involves understanding another person from that person’s point of view. The Bible admonishes believers to “be devoted to one another in love and to honour one another above yourselves”

Christianity is practical. You cannot be wicked and claim to be a Christian. Without empathy we won’t have genuine sensitivity to others. Without empathy we cannot truly apply the golden rule (see Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31 &1 Corinthians 10:24), because the application of the golden rule requires us to identify with others. Perhaps this is one of the reasons James advised us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Listening is the first step toward empathy. When a believer suffers unjustly, instead of reacting in bitterness, he should treat the wrongdoer as a friend. In this way, the believer, through his clemency and forgiveness, proves his Christ-mindedness, love and maturity over the offender. Believers need to posses the mind of Christ.

In Philippians 2:3, Paul advised us to value others above ourselves and consider serving others more important than serving ourselves. Some have mistakenly thought that Paul in this verse commands us to have the lowest possible self esteem. No, but that we should have other peoples interest at heart. Philippians 2:4 says, “Not looking for your own interests, but each of you look to the interest of the others”. We must, like Jesus, sacrificially live to look out for the interests of others. Do not live “I don’t care attitude”. Show love to others, especially to those in pain.

As a believer, you must strive to identify with individuals (both within and outside the assembly) who you can empathise with. You must realize what it would be like to face life having that person’s background, abilities or lack of abilities. In your relationship with one another have the mindset of Christ Jesus (see Philippians 2:5).

Meditation: You cannot be wicked and claim to be a Christian

RM: The Power Love

Prayer: Holy Spirit let your love spread in my heart so as to have the spirit of empathy in Jesus name, Amen.

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