HomeBible TopicsBible Topics: Empathy

Definition: Identifying oneself with another person’s feelings, experiences, and emotions, particularly in regards to misfortune; compassion, sympathy, understanding.

1.We should put ourselves in the place of others, and consider how we would feel if positions were reversed.

* Job 2:11,13 [Realizing that Job had been overcome by calamity and his grief was too great for words, his friends thoughtfully kept him company several days without engaging in conversation.] Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they … made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. 13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

* Jonah 4:10,11 [The Lord chastened the prophet Jonah for his lack of empathy towards the people of Nineveh. God had sent Jonah to Nineveh to prophesy its immediate destruction, yet relented after the people turned from their wickedness upon hearing Jonah’s prophecy. This angered Jonah, who protested that God had mercy on them, when he’d foretold their destruction.] Then said the Lord … 11And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

* Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. [See also Luke 6:31.]

* Matthew 22:39b Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

* Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

* 1 Corinthians 12:25b,26 Members [of the body of believers] should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. [See also verses 20-27.]

* Philippians 2:2-4 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

* Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body [as if you yourselves were suffering].

* 1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.

2.The difference between pity and compassion: While pity feels sorry, compassion does something about it!

* Luke 10:33,34 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came [upon a man who’d been robbed, wounded and abandoned by the roadside] where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. [See also verses 30-37.]

* James 2:15-17 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

* 1 John 3:16-18 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

The Lord will punish those who deal unlovingly and without compassion.

* Matthew 18:23,24,27,28,32-34 Therefore is the Kingdom of Heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

* Matthew 25:41-45 Then [on the Judgement Day] shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in: naked, and ye clothed Me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me not. 44 Then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee? 45 Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.

4.Examples of people moved with compassion:

* Exodus 2:5,6 [God touched the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter to adopt baby Moses as her own son:] And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children. [See also verses 5-10.]

* 2 Chronicles 28:15 [After conquering the army of Judah under wicked King Ahaz’ rule, the Israelites, convicted by the words of a prophet of the Lord, had compassion upon their captives:] And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brethren: then they returned to Samaria.

* 2 Kings 5:1-14 [The little Hebrew maid compassionately compelled leprous Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, to travel to Samaria to seek healing from the prophet Elisha.]

5.God empathizes with us; He is compassionate and understands our limitations and needs.

* Psalm 103:13,14 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. 14 For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.

* Psalm 139:1-4 O Lord, Thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether.

* Isaiah 49:15,16 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.

* Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction He [Jesus the Savior] was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

* Matthew 6:32b For your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

* Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

6.The Lord even has pity and compassion on the wicked or those who go astray, if they will only turn to Him.

* Psalm 107:17-20,43 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. 18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. 19 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He saveth them out of their distresses. 20 He sent His Word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. 43 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.

* Jeremiah 31:20 [God’s mercy was shown to the once backslidden tribe of Ephraim suffering under Babylonian captivity:] Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: Therefore My bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.

* Matt 18:11-13 For the Son of Man is come to save that which was lost. 12 How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

* Matt 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

* Luke 15:20 And [the prodigal son] arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. [See also verses 11-32.]

* Luke 19:41-42 And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.

7.Jesus teaches us to empathize with others by His Own loving example.

* Isaiah 53:4a Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

* Matthew 9:36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

* Matthew 8:16,17 When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

* Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.

* Mark 1:41 [Jesus heals the leper:] And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

* Mark 8:2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat.

* John 11:33-35 [Jesus was summoned by Martha and Mary to raise up Lazarus, their dead brother.] When Jesus therefore saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the Spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto Him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. [Then Jesus prayed, and Lazarus, who had been dead four days, miraculously arose from the dead.]

* 2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.

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