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Empathy

We have an ability to connect with others, that ability can be defined as empathy. It's the ability to identify and understand another being’s situation or feelings. There's a popular saying 'put yourself in someone else's shoes.' that saying is all about empathy and the ability to not just understand a feeling but also feel it.

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Lesson

What does it mean to have the character trait of Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to identify and understand another being’s situation or feelings.

Ways we can connect with others empathetically

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Understand our own emotions.

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Put ourselves in other peoples shoes.

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Treat others with love, kindness and respect.

Can you think of a time someone rejoiced or wept with you?

To rejoice is to feel happy/glad, to take delight in something. We rejoice for all different types of reasons. We rejoice when we see someone we care about and get to spend time with them, we rejoice when we get something we have been working hard to get or accomplish, we rejoice when we are given gifts. It’s easy to feel happy and delighted; it’s harder to feel that for someone else. God calls us to connect with the people around us by listening and understanding how they feel and also humbling ourselves to our own shortcomings.

Steps to move past jealousy

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Take deep breaths

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Remind yourself of God’s will and His perfect timing: if you are meant to have something, it will be yours when the time is right.

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Remember to love your neighbour.

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Think of how they would feel if they didn’t have whatever it is you’re jealous of.

We all have past experiences, sometimes they’re good and other times they’re bad. Sometimes these experiences can change and distort how we deal with things, including emotions – not just our own but other people’s too. Sometimes people can find it funny when people cry or they can even get angry and want to shout. This, of course, isn’t helpful to the person crying and can add to their distress and make them cry even more. There are some steps we can take to help us deal with our own emotions to be there for others.

How to deal with your emotions when someone is crying

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Take deep breaths

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Think about why you feel the way you do

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Think about how you would feel if you were weeping

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Remember to love your neighbour

Why do we have emotions?

Many emotions come as a response to:

  • Survival needs: when you’re hungry and/or thirsty, you might feel angry or irritable during these times. When you’re in danger, you might feel scared.

  • Reproductive needs: Girls experience periods once a month, once they reach a certain age, and will experience a wave of different emotions during this time, as their bodies work to get ready and be able to, one day, have babies.

We can feel emotions due to life events too, like when we earn a reward, we might feel happy or joyful, or when we are being told off, we might feel sad or sometimes angry.

Character Trait

How to comfort someone who weeps

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Listen to them

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Sit in silence with them

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Weep with them

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Hug them or put a hand on their shoulder

So empathy is about being humble, selfless and understanding, while also having and giving grace to others. God calls us to love our neighbours: both those who are kind and loving to us and those who are the opposite of those things. We must show mercy and empathy for all, even those who wrong us.

What God's word says about emotions

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Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger

James 1:19

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Connect with others by weeping and rejoicing with them when they do

Romans 12:15

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Love honestly and freely

Romans 12:9

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Do not fear death or man

Matthew 10:28

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James 1:19

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”

 

What It Means

In this verse James instructs believers to keep their trust in God strong, even in hard times. When we truly trust in God we learn to adjust the speed of our listening and speaking. God is truly in control, so we must be sure to take time to understand and act as God wills us. Doubting that God is in control speeds up the mouth and slows the mind.

We cannot empathise or connect with others if we are too busy thinking about ourselves, what we will say next, or how we feel. As believers we shouldn’t be concerned with being heard or getting what we want; we should be focused on others and serving others. It’s not that we are not to speak or to never get angry, we are to understand, talk and act at the right times. Jesus barely ever got angry when he was here, but when he did it was righteous, like when he told Satan to be gone (Matthew 4:10). Anger is a human emotion and can be justified, as Jesus shows us. However, James makes it clear that we can learn to control – or at least slow down – our angry responses.

To refuse to let anger control us is, in itself, an act of faith. It is a choice to believe that the Father is in control, to know He loves us and His will is good. 

God’s word is there to guide us in the way we should and shouldn’t live. We are to look to Jesus as an example.

Jesus showed us how to love others: openly, honestly and freely. He loves all, even those who did him wrong, and wants us to do the same.

We have all gotten angry from time to time, and by now, you would know that anger will often lead to more trouble, in the form of arguments and upsets. If we want to avoid creating trouble we must be calm and be slow to anger, and we must know when anger is the correct emotion to feel and show.

Jesus shows us to weep when others weep (John 11: 1–44).

Many fear death and what others may do to harm them, but God’s word teaches us to fear only our creator as he alone will be our eternal judge.

Let's look at a story in the Bible

The Good Samaritan

found in Luke 10:25 - 37

The story teaches us that our neighbour is everyone. That we are to love everyone. The Samaritan had empathy for the Jewish man who had been attacked. He helped him, bandaged him and paid for his lodgings. The Samaritan did all this at his own expense, for no reward other than to help the Jewish man.

When someone needs our help, we can imagine what it would be like if we needed the help ourselves. We can help others in the same way we would like someone to treat us in that situation.

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