18th August 2012

The Only Sensible Response – Empathy

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
Romans 12:15 (NKJV)

Paul here is explaining that the Christian life is to be lived in sympathy with others.  Care and concern is a fundamental basis of a life that is modelled on Jesus.  It is important that we are sensitive to the situation of others.  I’m sure we have all on occasion made the mistake of saying something that was out of place, inappropriate, or hurtful without meaning to.  We ourselves have probably been hurt by something said that would have been better not said.  But what this does is highlight the need to be careful.  God’s word cautions us again and again about the use of our tongue and the problem of idle words–words not thought through.

It is like the ringing of a bell, once rung it is impossible to un-ring it.  Paul gives us a key to avoiding this.  He says when someone rejoices we should rejoice with them.  We are not to be party poopers raining on someone’s parade, rather we are to add to the rejoicing.  This is not the time to point out that every silver lining has a dark cloud attached to it.

Similarly when someone weeps it is the time to share their burden and sorrow.  The time for looking on the bright side is not usually right then.  Grieving is an important part of the human condition and we must allow time and space for that to occur.  There will probably be a time later when we can begin to help the person see that it is not the end of the world and there is the prospect of a brighter future.

The old adage ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is very helpful when we meet these sorts of circumstances.  Ask, ‘How would I like to be received if I were in this situation?’, then let your response motivate your words and actions.

Father in heaven, grant that I may be sensitive to the emotions of others and careful to respond in an acceptable way.

Study by David Stirk

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