Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The gift of empathy...
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses; but he have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin." -- Hebrews 4:15
Empathy is the identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives. To empathize with someone, you don't have to agree with them or feel what they are doing is right, you just understand how they are feeling and why they are feeling that way.
The verse above is saying that Jesus DOES empathize with us -- understand us -- because he himself was tempted in every way. He knows our weaknesses and understands why we can't seem to do what we want to do or be the people we want to be. He knows what we go through. He knows why we do the wrong things...he knows why we sin and how that sin makes us feel.
I Don't think we realize what a gift that is. We all know "religious" people who are so caught up in the laws, rules and legalizsm of religion that they judge everything and everyone. Certainly, if you read in the Bible about the Pharisees, Saducees and other religious leaders of Jesus' day, you see that those men never understood WHY people sinned, they just punished those who did. And we know that is also the case today. I see "Christian" judgement every day. There is not much empathy there.
God gave us Jesus, a gift in many ways. Not only did he take our sin to save us, but he experienced our temptations and became our high priest -- a high priest who does not judge us, but encourages us to be better. While on earth, Jesus hung out with sinners of all types. He didn't shoo them away because of the the things they did, he was drawn to them. He was kind to them and encouraged them to sin no more. He empathized with their situations, taught them about God's kingdom and made them WANT to be better people so they too could experience the glory of that kingdom.
If you read the next verse in Hebrews, you see what the empathy of Jesus can give us.
"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." -- Hebrews 4:16
I love the Message translation - "So, let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help."
Grace, mercy and help. All things we can receive from God through Jesus.
Let Jesus be your example today. Find some empathy in your heart for those around you. Follow Jesus example and show some understanding to those you think are wrong. Show them Jesus so they too can find Jesus for themselves and experience the grace, mercy and help that He so freely gives.