Empathy over Apathy
(Adapted from the sermon, A Living Thanksgiving)
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)
Another possible reason that prevented the nine lepers from returning to thank Jesus was apathy. They might have been indifferent to his identity and mission, as if they didn’t care who he was or what he did. They might have been insensitive to his feelings and needs, as if they didn’t care how he felt or what he wanted. They might have been unconcerned about their fellow lepers and others, as if they didn’t care about their well-being or their salvation.
Apathy is a harmful attitude that can damage our relationship with God and with others. It can make us cold and distant, and make us ignore or neglect the opportunities to love and serve. It can make us selfish and lazy, and make us focus only on our own interests or pleasures. It can make us forget that we are part of a community, and make us isolate ourselves or alienate others.
How can we overcome apathy and cultivate a heart of gratitude? One way is to follow the example of Paul, who wrote in Philippians 2:3-4, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Paul was a passionate and devoted follower of Christ, who dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel and serving the church. He cared deeply for others, especially for his fellow believers, whom he called his joy and crown.
Caring for others means being empathetic and compassionate, as if we were in their shoes. It means being humble and considerate, as if they were more important than ourselves. It means being interested and involved, as if their interests were our own. It means being generous and helpful, as if we were giving and receiving from Christ himself. It means being thankful and appreciative, as if we were blessed by their presence and contribution.
- How do you identify and deal with apathy in your life? What are some situations that cause you to be apathetic?
- How do you respond when you encounter someone who is in need, hurting, or struggling? Do you care for them, pray for them, and help them? Or do you ignore them, judge them, or avoid them?
- How do you remind yourself that you are part of a community, and that you have a responsibility and an opportunity to love and serve others?
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Think of a situation in your life where you might have been apathetic to someone, such as a family member, a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, or a stranger. How did you react when you saw them or heard about them? Did you care for them, pray for them, and help them? Or did you ignore them, judge them, or avoid them? Ask God to forgive you for your apathy and to help you to care more. Thank Him for the people He has placed in your life and for the chance to bless them. Praise Him for His empathy and compassion.
LOVE IN ACTION: Think of someone who is in need, hurting, or struggling, either physically, emotionally, spiritually, or relationally. How can you show them your care and empathy? Pray for them, share a verse or a testimony with them, listen to them, or help them in a practical way. Let them know that you care for them and that God loves them and has a plan for them.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for your amazing grace and love. Thank you for caring for me and for others, and for giving me the opportunity to love and serve. Forgive me for my apathy and indifference. Help me to overcome them and to cultivate a heart of gratitude. Help me to be empathetic and compassionate, and to take an interest in others. Help me to live a life of thanksgiving, not just on one day, but every day. In Jesus’ name, amen.