Compelled to Action
COMPELLED TO ACTION
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“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:13-15 (NLT)
Empathy is more than a word or action; it’s a lifestyle. A life without empathy is a life without Jesus; a life without love. Jesus has challenged us to love others in the way that He loves, with understanding and sacrifice. Our empathy and compassion toward others makes us more like Him. Our commitment to act on that love is what separates genuine Christians from the rest of the world.
Sympathy tends to convey our OWN emotions or experiences. Though we may feel bad for someone going through a difficult time, we have the potential to not respond at all or merely say something encouraging. Empathy, however, doesn’t just walk by or solely offer lip service. It stands in another person’s shoes. It remains present in the situation, offers a listening ear and lends a helping hand. But it doesn’t stop here. True empathy actually feels another person’s emotions and experiences. While this may sound impossible, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can actually learn to feel WITH people the way God does. When we ask, God will connect our hearts to others’ stories and allow us to move from a place of simply acknowledging their suffering to the point that we feel as though we are experiencing what they are.
An empathic person is able to take the perspective of another, while staying out of judgment. Truth is, you don’t have to agree with every decision a person has made in order to empathize with them. If you will find parts of their story to which you can relate, you will discover ways to help and encourage others.
By developing compassion for one another’s suffering, it will create a change in you that causes you to act in love.
When my family walked through a season of extended hospitalization and near tragedy, the prayers and encouragement from friends and family were undoubtedly a blessing to me. Yet, it was those who had walked through similar situations— those who understood, through experience or compassion, what I was going through— who made the greatest impact on me. Many times, you won’t even have to muster up or create feelings for someone else; you can pull from your own experiences, remembering how you felt, in order to give a person what he or she needs.
Just before our main scripture, Romans 12:9 says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” Love doesn’t sit back and watch— it gets involved. When I start to feel directionless, or even lazy, in my mission to help others, I look back at where I’ve been. You can do the same. The battles you face and overcome are incredible opportunities for you to help others through similar situations. If you have ever suffered a loss, struggled to pay a bill, or dealt with sickness, your potential to empathize in those areas are exponential in comparison to someone who has no experience. Use that! Allow God to turn that memory into compassion and breakthrough for someone else.
When Jesus died for you, He took the cares of the whole world upon Him. So even if it’s something you don’t relate to naturally, the Holy Spirit will compel you supernaturally if you will only ask Him. When I catch myself starting to say, “I can only imagine,” I stop and do just that. I imagine. I allow myself to feel a portion of what they are feeling. I envision what would bring me comfort in their situation. Then I do something.
I encourage you to do likewise.
The same God who lives inside of us has equipped us to love His children well. “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15 (NLT)
Compassion enables us to love even our enemies; to bring peace amidst chaos, unity among division, and hope beyond despair. Be eager to stir up the HOPE that only He can bring.
Go the Extra Mile:
When you see suffering around you- whether it’s the poor or homeless, the sick, widowed, orphaned, etc.- how do you respond? Do you simply pity them or do you get your hands dirty to help? Take a look around you today and ask God how you can make a difference in one of their lives. He will be faithful to stretch your heart to HIS capacity and entrust you with plans to bless them.
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