Empathizing Love

Adam Stout

READ : Romans 12:9-21

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (v. 15)

There are many reasons people have Labrador Retrievers as pets. Drool is not one of
them. Neither is cost. A hermit crab is cheaper, doesn’t drool, and requires less
maintenance. But Labs are able to do something a hermit crab can’t: empathize. When my
friend Deb gets excited and laughs, her dog wags his tail. When she comes home after a
terrible day at work and cries, her dog will lay his head in her lap and look up at her
with eyes that say, “Because you’re hurting, I’m hurting too.”

I hate to say it, but sometimes a dog does a better job of empathizing with people than
we do. In today’s verse, Paul is not saying we need to spend our whole day laughing and
crying with others. But when someone is hurting or joyful we too often keep our distance
and maintain our cool. We let envy or our own discomfort keep us away. It is in these
times that the Lord has set an example for us. Jesus wept over Lazarus. He celebrated at
the wedding in Cana. And we too ought to look for opportunities to empathize with others
and share in what they are feeling. This is what love does. Empathizing may be tiring, but
ultimately, like all of God’s commands, it is life-giving to follow. Let’s not leave
empathy to the dogs.


Lord, give us eyes to see the emotional needs of those around us and to come

alongside them in their joy and pain, just as you come alongside us with your love.