Empathy is a Christian virtue that Jesus modeled for us repeatedly. The 10 lepers whom he healed were excluded from the community because of their communicable disease. He showed empathy when others would not.

The woman he redeemed at the well in Sychar was excluded from her community because of her behavior. Jesus didn’t let that restrain his empathy for her.

The daily news brings stories of people with short fuses forgetting they are Christian because someone does not deserve their empathy. The waitperson who forgets the creamer for their coffee; the driver who is slowing you down because they are in a strange town looking for an address.

Empathy is attempting to make amends for four centuries of discrimination and downright satanic behavior toward an entire race of people who happen to have more melanin in their skin that you do.

Empathy is standing with those who have been unjustly accused because they happen to speak a different language due to where God allowed them to be born.

Empathy is refusing to discriminate against over half of the species because they are female. Genesis 1:27 places the blame for that on God.

The pandemic afflicting the entire world has been made worse by people who think only of themselves. See my earlier column on those of you who refuse to mask up.

Yet, we continue to design life to intentionally discriminate against people whom God created differently or placed in circumstances that would give Christians a chance to model Christ toward them.

We usually fail miserably.

We are good at recognizing arrogance, self-interest and entitlement — in other people. We are eager to judge things about which we know little.. We are not as empathetic as we think.

Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, saw his worth increase by $13 billion in one day - a record in world history. Yet, almost half the world lives on less than $2 per day per person.

Bezos will pay a tax rate on his earnings that is less than half what a person who works for minimum wage will pay. Is that just?

Jesus modeled clear guidelines for those who follow him. There are no carve-outs that I can find in his teachings. There are no caveats.

It is time we recognize the necessity of empathy, for one day, God forbid, we might need it ourselves.

– Mike Mitchell, PhD, is pastor at Gault Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Payne

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