Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It goes beyond acknowledging the emotions of another and into taking them on oneself. But the instruction in this verse to share in the motions of others is not simply about being polite or compassionate. It speaks to the unity expected of the body of Christ and God’s designing us to support and depend on one another. In order to walk out our relationships in this manner, we must understand the benefit of this instruction.
To rejoice with others who are rejoicing we must rid ourselves of envy and covetousness. This allows us to share in the joy of another even if we don’t feel particularly joyous at the time. When everything seems to be going wrong for you, and your brother cannot hold back his joy at everything going right for him, thank God for his joy and share in it. This can only lift your spirits. And when the tables are turned, and your sister has reached the depths of despair, share in those tears. This can only lift her spirits. In both instances, one member of the body serves to encourage another.
When we share in each other’s joy and tears, it lifts us collectively. More than that, it blesses the joyous with an opportunity to serve the body of Christ through encouragement. Whether rejoicing or weeping, God’s purpose is for us to support each other in every situation. Father, give us the desire to increase in empathy so that we may always be open to the opportunities you ordain to encourage and to be encouraged.