The fact that the Great Apostle includes this admonition with this portion of Scripture is telling.
For one thing I think it recognizes that empathy does not come naturally for us. We have an inherent self-interest and we care about those who care about us. But to reach out to those with whom we have no vested interest is not something that happens on its own.
So, what must happen to make you care about others? What brings you to a place of sharing in sorrow and celebrating in joy?
At the risk of being redundant, the very things I have been showing you over the past few weeks:
It seems to me the best way to care about others more is to surrender your heart and mind and will to the One Who loves them most. When you offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God, He changes how you think - about Him, about yourself, and about others!
Selfless love is born in surrender.
The test of love is service. When you love someone you serve them. When you are surrendered to God you serve Him by serving those He loves. And as you serve others, as you become more involved in their lives, and you get to know them better and begin to like them more.
Also, as you serve them they begin to feel more loved by your and by the Father.
Sincere love is the result of being surrendered to God and being involved in serving others. Sincere love is evidence that God's love is being expressed in your heart. It is more than a feeling it is a commitment. It is a decision. God expects you to show sincere love to people you feel warm emotions for and those you don't.
Godly love empathizes with the pain and problems of others. It offers to help bear the pain. It brings a comforting presence. It joins in prayer. It offers friendship. It meets practical needs. It sheds tears with those who are sad. It celebrates with those who are enjoying life.
Empathy is a God-given gift through which heavy load are lightened and broken hearts get mended. It is evidence that God has done a transforming work in your heart.
When I care as deeply over the needs of others as I do over my own, then I know God has done a work in me and wants to do a strong work through me!
Are you surrendered to God? Completely?
Are you serving God by serving others?
Are you showing sincere love?