By: Justin Dillenschneider, Director of Student Life
Week of November 8th, 2021
Empathy can be defined as the ability to place yourself in the position of another person; or the ability to understand and feel what another person is presently experiencing and the past experiences that inform their feelings. This ability requires diligent cultivation in a society centered around ourselves. When “what’s true for you is true for you but what’s true for me is true for me” rules our every thought and decision, we can quickly become enabling to those around us and fail to take a stand for absolute truth. We can just as quickly become hardhearted when people disagree with us and lose the ability to listen to those with different experiences and opinions. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Christ as both fully God and fully man neither enabled sin in the lives of those he came to save, nor did he become hardhearted but instead he modeled empathy and long-suffering as he gently brought people to repentance.
Continue contemplating empathy by looking at this week’s scripture reading from
Matthew 9:35-10:1 CSB
“35 Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.36 When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” 10:1 Summoning his twelve disciples, he gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness.”
We want to encourage you to have a conversation this week about the virtue of empathy. Consider these discussion prompts together:
- What tempts you to become hardhearted?
- Where have you seen people fall into enablement? Where are you tempted to do so?
- What are some ways you see Christ correcting hardhearted people in Scripture?
- How do we see the apostles and the early church modeling and celebrating empathy?
Hymn to Sing Together: My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less