During the Vietnam War, for the first time, people had the opportunity to visually “see” the realities of war. The nightly news showed footage of each day’s violence, and suddenly war became up close and personal. Horrified by what they saw, people wanted to take action. Fast forward fifty-five years, and we may seem almost complacent to the world’s tragedies. With technology’s steady stream of society’s most horrific images coming at us through our phones, computers, and television, our minds can easily become numb to the horrors around us.
In Romans 12 the Apostle Paul warns believers that it is very easy to become “conformed” to the world and its thinking (v. 2). But Paul also describes the “transformation” characteristics of a mind intent on serving and knowing the will of God. We are able to renew our minds in serving Jesus Christ. Verse 15 specifically describes how a Christian can and should respond with empathy toward others: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
In other words, we are to let our actions and reactions genuinely support those around us, whatever state they may be in. To do so, though, we must be aware of their joys and trials. We must be willing to place ourselves in situations where we will have the opportunity to rejoice and weep with others. We are not called to complacency. In rejoicing and weeping, God calls us to choose relationship and action. Romans 12 could be titled the “Empathy Chapter” because it shows Christian love in action. Here Paul gives multiple and practical ways to demonstrate empathy.
>> God will likely bring someone into your life who could use a little empathy. Read Romans 12 and prayerfully ask God to reveal who that might be and pray that you will, indeed, be ready to respond with love in action.