Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Remember Those...

*Textual Tuesdays will be days when the Bible or another text will be examined for spiritual examination and encouragement.

Today's reading is from Hebrews 13:3
"Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." (NIV)

I like the New Living Translation slightly better...
"Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies."

Reading this verse, first of all I am struck by the idea that I am far from perfect in following this sentiment. I hear of people in prison, or those being mistreated and feel sorry, but feel very disconnected from their situations.
This passage would have us move beyond our "who cares" attitude to a connected, caring one. Not just sympathy, mind you. Sympathy means feeling sorrow for another's situation. No, this verse calls us to something deeper...it calls us to empathy.
Check out this definition from The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition:

empathy [(em-puh-thee)]
Identifying oneself completely with an object or person, sometimes even to the point of responding physically, as when, watching a baseball player swing at a pitch, one feels one's own muscles flex.

I pray that God gives me a more empathetic heart; one that feels sorrow and pain along with others to the point of moving me to help care for them instead of remaining aloof. I pray that God moves among Christians to give us this kind of caring heart for one another, and for the world...that the world may know we are Christians by our care, by our love.

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