developing empathy

Remember those who are in prison as if you were in prison with them. Remember those who are suffering as if you were suffering with them. [Hebrews 13:3 NCV]

Jesus taught us that the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets is to "Do to others what you want them to do to you." His words ring especially true for those who are suffering. The main thing that people want is empathetic friendships not passive pity.

I learned a lot about empathy during the three years that I weekly visited prisoners at a state penitentiary. I realized that the inmates did not need a minister but a friend. They did not need my wisdom but desperately wanted my empathy. They benefited most from my vulnerability.

I often say that I received so much more from the inmates than I gave to them. I saw how one mistake could change a life in such a negative way. I also saw how much love they had for me. Life is filled with opportunities to develop empathy if we are willing to live outside of our comfort zones.

Dear Lord, please transform our pity into empathy.

... this devotion is part of a series from the book of Hebrews.

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