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  • Writer's pictureDale Walker

Giving each other the gift of empathy

Everyone communicates but few connect!

We are seeking to understand from the Bible connection keys that will help us start and fuel a “loveolution” in our marriages, families, church, and community. Why’s…

1. If our relationships get better everything in our lives will get better.

2. The better we connect the more we flourish.

Two are better than one IF they have the same heart!

“Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.” — Psalms 92:13 (NKJV)

3. The vision of HFTW can be fulfilled. We are a place where strangers become friends and friends become family!

This time, we'll learn about the connection key of empathy, (the ability to understand and share redemptively in the feelings of others). Connection happens through standing in the shoes of others, hearing their heart and feelings compassionately without judging, correcting, or defending ourselves. Empathy is the art of listening, not to be heard but with a wholehearted effort to understand.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” — Romans 12:15 (NIV)

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” — Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” — I Corinthians 12:26 (NLT)

"…remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."

— Hebrews 13:3 (NIV)

"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves." — Romans 15:1 ( xIV)

I don’t own my strength; I owe my strength because it is a gift I didn’t earn.

“A friend is someone who you can pour out all of the contents of your heart both the wheat and the chaff, knowing that they will carefully keep the wheat and with the breath of kindness blow away the chaff.” — A Bedouin Proverb

When a person really empathizes with us, they divide our sorrows and multiply our joys.

Observations about the power of empathy

Empathy connects.

When we feel valued and understood we draw closer; when we feel judged we pull away. You have to touch a heart before you can ever really take a hand! Connection doesn’t happen through the head but through the heart and emotions.

People connect with us when they “feel” heard and understood.

When couples, family members, even people who disagree with each other feel heard, conversations and situations that could’ve driven them apart end up bringing them closer together.

If we want to reach outsiders with the love of Christ, a key is to build a bridge not to point out their wrong. The key is not shouting louder but drawing nearer.

“When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” — I Corinthians 9:22-23 (NLT)

Empathy heals.

“Surely he took our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him, punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” — Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)

"When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

— Matthew 14:14 (NIV)

Jesus showed His love and has made a way for all of us to draw near and connect with God through His empathy. This is how Christianity provides a way for us to get close to God that no other religion could.

“He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward since He himself was beset with weakness.” — Hebrews 5:2 (ESV)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin. 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 4:15-16 (NIV)

Jesus never shames us when we come with even the worst feeling or sin. The key to learning empathy with others is to discover how to feel His empathy for us.

Because He came and is with us, by His Spirit we don’t just get principles to solve our problems, we get His presence to strengthen and guide us through all of our pain!

Keys to connect through empathy

1. Allow yourself to experience God’s empathy in your heart.

2. Pour out your heart in prayer, cast all of your cares on Jesus!

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

— I Peter 5:7 (NIV)

3. Let God’s Word reframe your perspective and bring peace and hope.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

— Ps. 23:4-5 (NIV)

4. Give the gift of empathy to people.

Do it by compassionately listening in a way that allows people to process what they’re feeling.

5. Assure them that feelings aren’t right or wrong. Remove shame by affirming feelings aren’t who we are but they are something we have that God wants us to process.

6. Give the gift of listening, seeking God’s strength to not let the enemy bring strife or shame through your reaction. Stay gentle, curious, affirm the person even if you disagree with their perspective. Trust God to lead their heart. Help them explore what is under the surface.

You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. — James 1:19-20 (NLT)

“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.”

— Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)

7. Pray together for healing, growth, and understanding.

It is impossible to stay offended with someone you consistently pray for.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

— James 5:16a (NIV)

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