Today’s Opportunity to Grow Toward Christ-Empathy
JOHN SHIRK – Earlier this year, we talked about the value of sympathy. There is a significant difference between sympathy and empathy. With sympathy, we are stirred to feelings of compassion for someone who is mourning. We are willing to come alongside and mourn with those who mourn.
With empathy, we can FEEL the pain of the mourner. We can identify with their emotions because we have been there. We understand. We have experienced the same kind of event. Empathy is sympathy taken to a deeper level.
Jesus not only feels sympathy for us in our times of weakness, but He empathizes with us. He knows what it is like to be a man. He knows what it is like to feel pain, and to suffer rejection, betrayal, and be falsely accused. He knows what it’s like to feel the brutal treatment of the cross and pay the price for our sins. He was there. He took our place. An example of His ability to empathize with us is found in Hebrews 2:18: “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Empathy is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.