IDENTIFYING WITH THOSE IN NEED
“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:2).
Because we too are human beings, God makes it possible for us to empathize with others who might be enduring hardship. The Apostolic Confession, an ancient church confession, says, “If any Christian is condemned for Christ’s sake to the mines by the ungodly, do not overlook him, but from the proceeds of your toil and sweat, send him something to support himself, and to reward the soldier of Christ.” The early church took seriously its responsibility to help people who were suffering persecution. We should do whatever we can to understand what others are going through. Being human—“in the body,” as today’s verse says—and suffering our own hurts and hungers should be enough incentive for us to help others. You can have loving empathy for someone in at least three ways. First, you can simply “be there” as a friend to encourage the other person when he/she is in trouble. Secondl give direct help. The Philippians shared with the apostle Paul in his affliction by financially supporting his ministry in other places (Phil. 4:14-16). In this way they also encouraged him spiritually, and third, prayer. Paul’s closing words to the Colossians, “Remember my imprisonment” (Col. 4:18), were an appeal for prayer. It was the only means remaining by which the church could effectively support him. If we have Christ’s example, who is not “a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb. 4:15), how can we possibly ignore the hurts of others, especially those of fellow believers? Instead, sincere empathy should be a regular part of our service for the Lord. Let us pray for a greater alertness and sensitivity to those you know who might be hurting.