If someone could bottle and sell empathy, they’d probably win the Nobel Prize, find the solution to world peace, and put divorce lawyers out of business! When I empathize with someone, I’m identifying with them through imagining what they’re experiencing. I’m crawling into their skin to view the world through their eyes and I’m vicariously experiencing their joys and sorrows, pain and happiness, pressures and disappointments.
When I put myself in my betrayer’s shoes, compassion and understanding are birthed.
This week, we’ve been trying to get a handle on how to process a painful betrayal. If you missed yesterday’s post, today won’t make much sense unless you read it first, so I hope you’ll do that by clicking on the link now.
I may never be able to comprehend or understand why my betrayer would make the choices they made, but I can understand the process of temptation at work in their life. I can recognize similar ways I’ve fallen to perhaps very different temptations, but I’ve still fallen.
James 4 describes love’s royal law as an action of empathy. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” At least nine times this love law is repeated throughout Scripture, spanning both testaments. The same principle is reiterated in the golden rule as we are commanded to treat others in the way we’d want to be treated.
Empathy births compassion and compassion is the necessary ingredient for loving the unlovable.
I’m going to share with you a passage of Scripture that I believe holds the key to navigating betrayal. As you read through this passage, remind yourself of who wrote this and where he was when he wrote it.
The Apostle Paul had experienced numerous betrayals during his ministry. This letter was probably written during his first Roman imprisonment. While in prison, Paul is urging his fellow believers to walk the road toward thankfulness.
Compassion is the first step down that road. Watch that progression as you work your way through this passage:
[box]So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:12–17)[/box]
Notice the progression, there are five couplets:
♥ Compassion which bears the outward display of kindness.
♥ Humility which bears the fruit of gentleness.
♥ Patience which is lived out through forbearance.
♥ Receiving Christ’s forgiveness provides the grace to forgive others.
♥ Love provides the perfect element for unity to flourish.
At the conclusion of these five couplets, peace is ruling the heart and thankfulness is occurring. The action of thanksgiving is mentioned three times within three verses. Gratitude is the culmination of the process that began with compassion. This is the pathway from ashes to beauty.
This is the pathway to lead us from the pain and confusion of betrayal to the very heart of God.
Are you willing to ask the Father to fill you with compassion for your betrayer?
Will you “put on” the gracious beauty of compassion?
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