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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Have you thought about how often Jesus’ hands are referred to?

He used His hands to heal.

Jesus often touched those He healed (Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 6:2, 5; 7:32-35; 8:23-25; Luke 4:40; 13:13).

A leper begged to be healed. “Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed’” (Mark 1:40-41).

He used His hands to bless.

When children were brought to Him, “He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them” (Mark 10:16).

He used His hands to save.

After His resurrection He showed His incredulous disciples His nail-scarred hands (Luke 24:36-40; John 20:20, 25, 27).

And we?

How can we best use our hands to serve Him and bless others (Ephesians 5:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)?

serving sick-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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The Man Jesus Said to be Like

The man we all admire

We have laws named for him.

He even made the dictionary! Good Samaritan: “a person who gratuitously gives help or sympathy to those in distress” (

Jesus’ parable features four kinds of people:

First, the violent. Thugs mugged a traveler, leaving him half dead.

Second, the victimized. The Greek word used for his wounds is trauma.


Third, the callous. When the priest and Levite came along, they “passed by on the other side.”

Fourth, the compassionate. It says that the priest, Levite, and Samaritan all saw the injured man. Only one is said to have felt compassion.

The man we should all be like

The Samaritan moved quickly from empathy to aid, giving his time, money, and himself.

Jesus concludes by telling the listener, “Go and do the same” (Luke 10:37).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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Seeing People Through Jesus’ Eyes

The Jesus who envisions

When Jesus sees people, He really sees them.

He sees people as they truly are, both what’s good in them and what’s not.

Although we cannot see deeply into hearts as He does (Matthew 9:4; John 2:24-25), how can we relate to others more as He does?

For one, Jesus does not focus just on what people are at present, but on their potential.

He was well aware of the Samaritan woman’s failures (John 4), but He also saw what He could enable her to become and do. Jesus is in the transformation business.

The Jesus who serves

Also, during His ministry He did not simply feel compassion, but He consistently acted compassionately (Matthew 14:14; 15:32-38; 20:30-34; Mark 1:40-41; 6:34; Luke 7:12-15).

Jesus came to serve, and He calls us to reflect His servant’s heart (John 13:3-17).


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Jesus’ Mission Statement

Saving Lives

A pickup in a hospital parking lot had this message on its door: “To Serve and to Save.” It was a fire/rescue vehicle.


Didn’t Jesus say something like that? “. . . the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

The angel who announced that Jesus would be born predicted that “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Saving Souls

First responders bravely risk their lives to save from physical death. Jesus does far more.

He is the Servant who saves, the Savior who serves.


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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