In this month’s blog, I believe God has put a very significant word on my heart for you. This word will impact every area of our lives as the world emerges from COVID’s long shadow.
It’s a word about love—not just any kind of love—but God’s unconditional, unchangeable, and limitless love. It’s also a word about how to deploy the powerful force of empathy.
How important of a subject is this? Jesus defines it in one sentence: “By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
In this one verse, we have the secret to a happy and fulfilled life. We also have the greatest secret to world evangelism. You and I recognize there is nothing more important than winning this world to Jesus. There’s nothing more important than showing the world the Gospel, preaching the Gospel to all of creation. There’s nothing more important in this world than seeing everybody have an opportunity to be saved.
The most convincing evidence Jesus presents—the best evidence of God in this world—is our love for one another. By this, all men will know. There’s nothing else in the Bible that says, “By this, all men will know.”
The way we love one another is the most evident testimony of our discipleship. Not how spiritual we are or how many religious rituals we follow—no, the testimony the world longs to see—is love. Love breaks through. Love impacts the world and all of the human race. Receiving and giving God’s love is what makes all the difference in every one of our lives!
How can we practically love others? Here are two ways.
- We can only love others to the degree we feel loved ourselves. God loves us in our most flawed condition. Yet, we so many times expect others to have it all together to earn our love. Yet, we don’t even have it all together. 1 John 4:19 says this in the New Living Translation, “We love each other because he loved us first.” We are empowered to love because He first loved us.
We often expect too much from others and get disappointed. And then we withhold our love because they failed us. But here’s the formula that truly brings success:
Trust God + love people = happiness.
When we lean on others coming through for us, they will often let us down. That’s why we should rely on God coming through for us instead. We can love people freely, as Jesus has loved us freely.
This truth is the reason why Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Trusting in the Lord with all our hearts represents our “vertical relationship.” It provides the foundation for horizontal relationships: to love others. When our trust is in God, it becomes easy to love people because we’re not expecting something from them. Trusting God means you’re expecting all you need to come from Him, totally freeing you to love others.
- The way to truly love people is by showing them empathy. Perfectly modeled by Jesus, empathy is the ability to communicate the incredibly healing message of “you are not alone.” Whatever you’re going through, whatever you’re experiencing, and whatever you are feeling as a result—Jesus feels it too. You are not alone. It is a tremendous demonstration of love. It doesn’t judge, ridicule, or belittle people.
Empathy is the willingness to step into another person’s world, their pain, and their conflict. Empathy is to enter into someone else’s STORY.
Everybody’s life is an unfolding story. Every person you meet (and every person you don’t meet, for that matter) is fighting a tough, hidden battle. Having empathy means understanding that their challenges are hard to overcome.
One of the most impactful verses in the Bible is also the shortest; John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.”
Lazarus had died. Jesus knew full well He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, so He knew there was no reason for His loved ones to be so sad. Yet Jesus didn’t judge them. He didn’t scold them for their lack of faith. Jesus saw they were hurting—and hurt with them. He saw they were weeping—and wept with them. He stepped into their story.
He was experiencing their grief as they experienced it. He is the resurrection and the life! And yet, He feels what we feel. This empathy is a demonstration of love expressed!
Take time today to become more aware of God’s love for you than you ever have before! It will make you stronger and more confident to show empathy to others. Doing this will sow seeds of love and kindness into their lives. It will produce a great harvest, where you can enjoy a happy, fulfilled life!
If you would like to hear more on this life-changing topic, click here for my entire teaching called “Pure Joy: Freedom from the Religion of Misery.” This liberating series will show you how to experience the peace, joy, and rest that come from knowing and believing you are a son or daughter of God.