Weekly message from Cypress Church: Empathy is loving our neighbors

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I love going to my wife’s kindergarten classroom. Not only to see the amazing way she teaches young minds, but also how she creates a kind, compassionate, empathetic environment for children. When a child is hurting she stops all the kids involved or the whole class and as a group they talk out how it feels when you feel hurt, and then figure out how to help the person in need. She does this enough to where kids automatically show empathy. One child had forgotten their snack and someone noticed and asked Kristi if she could share her snack because she remembered what it felt like to have forgotten her own snack one day. That’s empathy at it’s finest.

Fred Rodgers of the long lasting PBS series Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was a child advocate. Last year a documentary was made of about him called Won’t You Be My Neighbor? This year a movie is being made called A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which stars Tom Hanks. In both of these productions, the major traits brought out were Fred Rogers’ radical kindness and empathy. He did not just feel for people, he sought to understand them and, in a sense, walk in their pain or circumstance. The Fred Rogers Center has as one of their core values, empathy, stating, “We know that understanding and compassion are fundamental to children’s healthy social and emotional development.” Empathy is fundamental for all humanity. It’s key to our living in society and paramount in Jesus’ command to love our neighbor Matthew 22:39.

Jesus demonstrated empathy in His compassion.

Matthew 9:36 When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 14:14 When He went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Matthew 20:34 And Jesus in pity (compassion) touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed Him.

Psychologists tell us empathy can connect us to others, lower our stress, keep us from burn out, and guide our moral compass. As well, that empathy is a superpower that keeps us connected with others. The Bible continues to instruct us to be empathetic.

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

James 2:15-17 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Romans 12:15-16 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Let’s reignite and continue to foster empathy, for it is truly a way we can love our neighbor. It will take practice, will have a lasting affect on you and others, and will be well worth it.

God says a lot about empathy and church can be a great place to learn God’s teaching. If you don’t have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches. We are in a great teaching series talking about what the Bible says about loving our neighbors. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net. You can even attend one of our live-streaming services (see http://live.cypresschurch.net/). We would love for you to join us.