“Empathy vicariously enters into another’s pain without pronouncing judgment.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 17, 2021
Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another. Zechariah 7:9, ESV
I am learning it’s not natural for me to see things the same way someone else does. I need a learned skill to trigger me toward compassionate listening first, instead of a judgmental (subtle though it may be) assessment of another’s needs. Most importantly, I must lean into the Holy Spirit’s sensitive discernment to empower my empathy to protect me from forcing my pre-packaged prescriptions on a hurting heart. Kindness and mercy defer judgment to the righteous Judge Jesus. My caring should trump the temptation to be condescending. My empathy is able to imagine another’s world by walking in their shoes, admitting I could experience the same pain.
The Lord is reminding His people to engage with love, so their glimpse into another is empathic. And His reminder is resourced by His unfailing love. Almighty God with His tender love is able each morning to bring new mercies to those who bow in humble adoration of their Savior and Lord. In addition to His mercies, the kindness of God leads honest hearts to repentance. Honesty and confession thrive in the Lord’s safe environment of acceptance and forgiveness. The King of Kings renders true judgments wrapped in kindness and mercy. The Spirit sources all good graces.
“You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things?” (Romans 2:1-3, NLT).
Kindness and mercy escort us to empathy. An insensitive heart storms ahead calling out an individual before truly understanding the condition of his heart. This rush to judgment tries and convicts the wrong person for the wrong perceived injustice. But love is patient to wait and hear out the hurting heart—and communicate back with calming words what was just said. Empathy does that—it vicariously enters into another’s pain without pronouncing judgment. Love cares.
What is your approach to someone struggling in sin or anger over a significant loss? Slow to speak and quick to forgive? Good, this is the beginning of empathy. It’s easy to misunderstand and criticize from a distance or through email, and much easier to engage another’s heart with compassionate conversation seeking clarity and relational repair. Your kindness may be a foreign language to someone used to being taken advantage of and/or dismissed. Trust takes time. But empathy is a distrust buster and a trust builder. Immerse your words in humility, kindness and mercy to perceive the real need. By God’s grace, move from judgmental to empathic—to love.
“For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the Lord, who has mercy on you” (Isaiah 54:10, NKJV).
Heavenly Father, I tend to judge others before getting to know them. Help me be empathic with words of kindness and mercy, through Christ’s love and in His name I pray, amen.
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