The apostle Paul gave the following admonition to followers of Jesus Christ: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15).
Alma gave a similar admonition to his people at the waters of Mormon. He told them that their baptism included a promise to “mourn with those that mourn” (Mosiah 18:9).
After Alma and his people later rejoined the people of King Mosiah in Zarahemla, the king read their records to his people. In response, his people demonstrated a high level of empathy:
- “When they beheld those that had been delivered out of bondage they were filled with exceedingly great joy.”
- “When they thought of their brethren who had been slain by the Lamanites they were filled with sorrow, and even shed many tears of sorrow.”
- “When they thought of the immediate goodness of God, and his power in delivering Alma and his brethren out of the hands of the Lamanites and of bondage, they did raise their voices and give thanks to God.”
- “When they thought upon the Lamanites, who were their brethren, of their sinful and polluted state, they were filled with pain and anguish for the welfare of their souls.”
(Mosiah 25:8-11, italics added)
I’ve thought today about the positive impact of empathy, both for recipients and for givers.
- Recipients: Our sorrows become more bearable when we know that other people willingly share them. And our joys are amplified when others rejoice with us.
- Givers: As illustrated in the passage above, empathy enables us to experience a broader range of emotions. We feel more joy and more sorrow because we are responding to many more experiences.
The Savior demonstrated a high level of empathy, both in His mortal ministry and in His ministry on the American continent:
- “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping…he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled…. Jesus wept” (John 11:33, 35).
- “Jesus…beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them. And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you” (3 Nephi 17:5-6).
Today, I will strive to emulate the empathy of the people of Mosiah. I will strive to identify with other people and to feel their sorrows and their joys. I will recognize that empathy is a fundamental attribute of the Savior.