How Empathetic Are We?

There are at least three ways we can view a fellow human being:

As someone to exploit

Jesus told a story about some thugs who rob a traveler, beat him up, and leave him severely wounded by the roadside.

Who would be so cruel? Apparently, those who are concerned only about themselves and don’t care who gets hurt, as long as they get what they want.

As someone to ignore

Another traveler comes along—a priest. When he sees the victim lying helplessly by the road, he passes on by.

Then comes a Levite. He does exactly as the priest did—he sees but does nothing.

Surely these two religious people would never stoop so low as to rob and beat a stranger. But do they feel anything for the man? Do they help?

They distance themselves from the man’s suffering—both physically and emotionally.

They leave him lying there—bleeding and alone.

As someone to serve

Then comes a third traveler—a Samaritan. Like the priest and Levite, he too sees the poor fellow.

Unlike the priest and Levite, he feels for him.

But he doesn’t just feel sorry for him—he acts immediately.

He dresses the man’s wounds. He takes him to an inn where he can be cared for—and even pays the bill!

And we?

So how do we view others—as people we can use for our own selfish purposes? As problems to ignore because getting involved can be messy, expensive, and time-consuming? Or as souls to serve?

Jesus’ parable graphically illustrates the Second Commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:25-37).

Jesus told the parable in response to a lawyer’s question, “And who is my neighbor?”

After describing how the priest, Levite, and Samaritan each responded, Jesus asked him, “Which of these three proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”

“The one who showed mercy toward him,” said the lawyer.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do the same.’”

Did he?

Will we?

showing empathy-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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The Other Love Chapter

Beyond the familiar

Bible students call 1 Corinthians 13 the great Love Chapter of the Bible. It is well named.

Less familiar, however, is another chapter on love. Although not all of 1 John 4 is devoted to the subject, about two-thirds of it is.

While there are nine occurrences of the noun “love” (agapē) in 1 Corinthians 13, the word is used 12 times in 1 John 4. The verb for love (agapaō) is not found in 1 Corinthians 13, but it occurs 14 times in 1 John 4. If you add the noun and verb forms of love in 1 John 4, it comes to a grand total of 26!

What love from above should lead to

Statistics aside, what does 1 John 4 teach about love?

  • It all starts with God: “. . . love is from God . . . . God is love” (vv. 7, 8).
  • God loved first: “. . . not that we loved God, but that He loved us…” (v. 10). “We love, because He first loved us” (v. 19).
  • God proved His love: “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (v. 9).
  • We are to reflect His love: “. . . if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (v. 11).
  • Hatred toward others prevents fellowship with God: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (v. 20).

Love in two dimensions

First Corinthians 13 will always remain one of the very greatest of all passages. And yet a study of 1 John 4 along with it gives us a fuller picture. While Paul focuses on the horizontal dimension of love as expressed toward one another, John emphasizes the dynamics of how the horizontal affects the vertical–loving God–and vice versa.

The two dimensions cannot be separated.

love hate-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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Making Room


Me first!

A few days ago I watched as hummingbirds buzzed in for a landing at a feeder.

Many times one would stop drinking to chase others away, even though there were four spouts—no waiting.

Researching this, I discovered that hummingbirds are instinctively quite territorial.

But what about those of God’s creatures made in His image?

While the “default setting” for humans is Me/My/Mine, we do have a choice.

You first!

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

“Me First” is ultimately self-defeating.

But the servant mindset Jesus exemplified not only blesses others but ourselves as well.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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Thoughts about Thoughtfulness

Thoughtfulness observed

My dad watched a fellow passenger in the restroom on a train as he wiped down the lavatory after shaving, leaving it clean for the next person.

In a hospital I saw a young man, wearing a hard hat, using paper towels to wipe the counter after washing up.

Such thoughtfulness impressed my dad. It impresses me too!

Thoughtfulness defined

“. . . do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

Thoughtfulness is first an attitude, then a lifestyle.

Thoughtfulness is sensitive to how our words and actions affect others.

Thoughtfulness wants to make life better for others, never harder.

Thoughtfulness makes the world a little less selfish, a little more kind.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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