insanitybytes22 writes posts that hit at the gut level. Such is what Empathy is Not Forgiveness does. What I write I like to think appeals to the intellect. That informs people, I guess, but is more likely to get to the heart and persuade. So it occurred to me it might be worthwhile to reblog ‘s post and just include my comment.
Empathy is not forgiveness. That was a real stumbling block for me, but empathy can be a bit like trying to rationalize away sin. We’re seeking a logical explanation for human behavior, some cause and effect, and trying to walk in someone else’s shoes compassionately. That all sounds very good, very charitable on the surface, but it is not the supernatural grace of forgiveness.
You will wind up extending mercy to everyone but yourself. We’ll call it “self-abuse,” because you’ll be filled with forgiveness, confusion, frustration, while attempting to rationalize away the entire world’s poor behavior.
Battered women do this all the time. He doesn’t mean it, it’s not his fault. People married to alcoholics do it, they rationalize, it’s just the addiction talking. We do it in crime, bad childhood, lousy neighborhood, poor job training. What winds up happening in the end is that you are surrounded by totally irrational people doing stupid things for what seems to be good reasons and all of this somehow becomes your fault. Also, now you’re even more bitter and unforgiving because everyone in the entire world has an excuse for treating you poorly…. (continued here)
So what do I have to add? A little Bible study.
Excellent post! It inspired me to do a little Bible study.
It is a curious thing. Empathy is supposed be a Christian thing, but anyone would be hard put to find the word in the Bible.
Empathy sounds like a great idea. There is that old Indian proverb (=> http://grammarist.com/phrase/walk-a-mile-in-someone-elses-shoes/), but forgiveness and empathy have different purposes. When we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, we don’t do it to forgive them. We do it to understand them, to perceive what motivates them. When we understand the motives of another, we can react more appropriately.
What is forgiveness? It is not holding a grudge (Leviticus 19:18). It is continuing to love another. As this passage puts it, it is overcoming evil.
Romans 12:9-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
Behave Like a Christian
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The person who cannot forgive cannot give up vengeance, but vengeance does not belong to us. We don’t have the wisdom or the right. Because we belong to God, vengeance belongs to God.
We don’t punish criminals out of vengeance. We punish criminals to discourage crime. Our job is to love each other. If we don’t forgive each other, we cannot love each other.
Because God requires justice, however, He does take vengeance.
Psalm 99:8 New King James Version (NKJV)
8 You answered them, O Lord our God;
You were to them God-Who-Forgives,
Though You took vengeance on their deeds.
We cannot thank God enough for taking upon Himself the full measure of vengeance we deserve.