“As we grow in our love relationship with God, we begin to empathize with God. We feel what He feels. Then we begin to sympathize with others. We experience sympathy breakthroughs as we see the image of God in others. And when those empathetic feelings turn into compassionate actions, they set off chain reactions with eternal ramifications.”- Mark Batterson
Mark Batterson concludes Chapter 2 of Primal as he talks about one absolutely foundational element of emotional intelligence: empathy. Most noteworthy, Pastor Batterson states, empathy also is a dimension of spiritual intelligence. And when we see the image of God in others as we experience sympathy breakthroughs, our empathetic feelings turn into compassionate actions. Mark exhorts:
“Don’t underestimate the spiritual significance of even one act of compassion done in the name of Christ. That one act of Spirit-prompted compassion can change the course of history.”
For example, consider the Old Testament account of Joseph. As Pastor Batterson puts it, Joseph, at the age of seventeen, tattled on his brothers. Thus, Joseph wasn’t just emotionally immature, but also emotionally ignorant. Yet, his suffering in an Egyptian dungeon help him become less self-absorbed. Joseph’s suffering produced compassion, empathy, and sympathy. And his single act of compassion – he noticed Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker looked upset – changed the course of history.
Yet, when most of us hear about tragedies, Mark asserts, the last thing that crosses our minds involves actually doing something about it. Hence, we let what we can’t do prevent us from doing what we can. So, Mark asks, what:
- will kill you if you don’t do it?
- makes you glad or sad or mad?
- puts a holy smile on your face?
- causes your spirit to sob uncontrollably?
- makes you pound your fist on the table out of righteous indignation?
You’ll find your God-ordained passion (compassion) in the midst of that mixture. And once you identify that passion, there’s no option but to do something about it.
Today’s question: What sympathy breakthroughs play a role in your life story? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Faith, obedience, compassion — abstract or concrete?”