Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
In life, I have learned a lot from observation. Sure, life experiences are great teachers, but when I see examples lived out before my eyes, coupled with the amazing teaching from the Bible, it sinks in. One of the great teachers God tends to use in my life is from the observation of children. I love to see their raw, mostly untainted, character at work. It inspires me. Now, being we have 8 grandchildren (and 2 more on the way!!) and my wife is a kindergarten teacher, where I help in her class occasionally (not so much during the pandemic, but will be back in there soon), I have loads of opportunities to learn. Like the other day, one of my grandsons was upset as we were watching his favorite kids show on PBS Kids. The person in the show had been in an accident, and though not terribly hurt, and I believe it was meant to be funny, my grandson felt sad for them. He said, “Papa, that monkey is hurt. It makes me feel sad.” I was impressed that he noticed and that he felt for another, even if it was a cartoon. I had not even noticed, let alone did it affect my emotions. It made me wonder about my sensitivity and empathy.
A while back, when I was volunteering in my wife’s kindergarten class, I noticed one girl was helping and consoling a fellow student. That fellow student was frustrated with something to do with one of her assigned tasks. The empathetic little girl noticed the sadness, got up, and mimicking my wife’s kind and compassionate teaching style, comforted the other student, acknowledged the struggle, and asked to help. I was both impressed and inspired to be aware, sensitive, empathetic, and to take action.
It is so easy for the human heart to get so full of self we forget to care and exercise our empathetic muscles. We all have this incredible superpower of empathy. God has equipped each of us with the power to care.
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.
When we do exercise our superpower of empathy, great things happen. Empathy builds relationships as we connect on a deeper level with our feelings and emotions. Empathy lowers our stress, as we turn our care toward others, we can better process our own inner struggles. Empathy empowers us as it engages a deeper sensitivity and concern for others to the point that it ignites our passions. Empathy helps us collaborate better with others, be a better team player, talk deeper with others, and meet each other’s needs. Yes, empathy is a useful superpower!
Now empathy is different from sympathy. Sympathy is looking at another’s suffering and feeling sorry or sad for them. Empathy is feeling someone else’s pain, to ‘walk in their shoes,’ or to see through their eyes. It is the start of compassion. Compassion is empathy in action, an action to do something that relieves someone else’s suffering. God asks us to be compassionate.
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.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
1 John 3:17-18 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Let’s engage the superpower of empathy. It will change our world and even make each of us better people.
Church can be a great place to both learn about empathy and practice empathy. Why not give church a try this weekend? If you don’t regularly attend a church, we would like to invite you to view or visit Neighborhood Church. Our website has all the information you need for times and locations of all our Sunday gatherings. We would love for you to join in. You can also find us online at neighborhoodchurch.com. As well, if you would like to view any of our past worship gatherings or videos, visit our YouTube channel, or just search Neighborhood Church Cypress or Neighborhood Church Los Alamitos on their YouTube site.