Evangelism Is… Empathy with Action, Part 1 (The Soul-Winning Motivator #89)

Our soul winning passage from the Word of God today is John 11:35 which reads: “Jesus wept.”

Allow me to share with you some important insights regarding this Scripture from David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible:

This shows that Jesus is not unfeeling, nor stoic, but with strong feeling He prepares to strike a blow against death, the enemy of God and man. Jesus is a passionate enemy of death.

To the mind of the ancient Greek, the primary characteristic of God was apatheia: the total inability to feel any emotion whatsoever. The Greeks believed in an isolated, passionless, and compassionless God. That isn’t the God of the Bible. That isn’t the God who is really there.

Our soul winning devotional is part 72 of our series titled “What Evangelism Is” from Dave Earley and David Wheeler.

Evangelism Is…Empathy with Action (Part 1)

Definitions of Empathy

Empathy is a powerful perspective and tool in the tool kit of any effective evangelist. But what is it?

Merriam-Webster defines empathy as “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

Answers.com defines empathy as “Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives; the attribution of one’s own feelings to an object; sympathetic, sad concern for someone in misfortune. Synonym is also pity.”

The Britannica Concise Encyclopedia defines empathy as “Ability to imagine oneself in another’s place and understand the other’s feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. The empathic actor or singer is one who genuinely feels the part he or she is performing. The spectator of a work of art or the reader of a piece of literature may similarly become involved in what he or she observes or contemplates. The use of empathy was an important part of the psychological counseling technique developed by Carl R. Rodgers.”

According to Wikipedia, empathy (from the Greek empatheia (em-pa-thea), “to suffer with”) is commonly defined as one’s ability to recognize, perceive, and directly and experientially feel the emotion of another. As the states of mind, beliefs, and desires of others are intertwined with their emotions, one with empathy for another may often be able to define more effectively another’s modes of thought and mood. Empathy is often characterized as the ability to ‘put oneself into another’s shoes’ or experiencing the outlook or emotions of another being within oneself, a sort of emotional resonance.”

Empathy is essential in evangelism. If you want to reach people for Christ, do not just view them as potential church members or preverbal notches on your Bible. Put yourself in their shoes, be patient and walk with them, and then tell them about the One who understands their pain and will save their souls.

In our next broadcast, we will continue looking at why evangelism is…Empathy with Action.

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