Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. ~Ezekiel 3:15
The prophet Ezekiel had been commanded to preach to the sin-hardened Jews a message of repentance toward God. He describes his attitude as being “in bitterness, in the heat of his spirit.” However, the Lord’s hand was strong upon him to perform his calling. The Lord strongly moved him to the area of Telabib, specifically to the captive people that dwelt by the river Chebar. He said, “I sat where they sat, and remained astonished among them for seven days.” When he said, “I sat where they sat,” Ezekiel learned what it means to have empathy. Empathy means to feel someone else’s hurt or pain in our heart. Empathy is when we understand the circumstances that someone else is going through, and we are affected as if it was our problem. This morning, let us consider the importance of having empathy.
We see the DEVELOPMENT of empathy.
Empathy does not come naturally in most situations. Empathy is a disposition we must develop in our lives. Empathy is developed by what we see or hear. The prophet Jeremiah said, “Mine eye affecteth my heart.” If we were to spend time inside of a leper’s colony, the pitiful sight of these people suffering would create a desire to do something for their plight. If we were to spend time among poverty-stricken people, children who have been orphaned, and victims of violent crime, we would eventually be moved in our hearts to do something. At the start of His ministry, we see Jesus teaching, healing, and ministering to multitudes of people who came to Him. Matthew put it this way: “When Jesus saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”
We see the DYNAMIC of empathy.
Empathy moves us to identify with people who are suffering. Empathy stirs us to do something that will help or make a difference. We are inspired to make plans and then to involve other people to join us in executing this plan. We become determined not to rest or be distracted until we are able to make a difference. Empathy invigorates us to have a vision for the person we are helping. It moves us to make sacrifices, if necessary. It compels us to be resilient if we face setbacks or obstacles. Empathy is a necessary attribute when we work with people. As someone has rightly said, “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.”
We see the DEMONSTRATION in empathy.
When we are moved by empathy, we desire to see results. We want the people we are seeking to help to know that we have come to improve or change their situation for the better. When Ezekiel sat where they sat, he became a better preacher. His audience could see he was driven to excellence on their behalf. Empathy changes a dire circumstance, and it changes us. If everyone was moved by empathy, our world would be so much better. If every salesman was moved by empathy, he would lead his organization in sales. If every Christian was moved by empathy, we would do ministry with tears in our eyes and drive in our spirits to advance the cause of Christ.
Ezekiel sat where they sat. Do you empathize with those who are in sorrow, those who are suffering, those who are scared, and those who are having setbacks? Until you do, your ability to help them go forward will be limited.
Let your eye affect your heart. Be someone who sat where they sat!
Have an empathetic God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Exodus 10-12