Renowned psychotherapist and physician Alfred Adler stressed the need to understand individuals within their social context. Calling for compassion and empathy in relating to others, he described empathy as “seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”
Adler was not the first person to advocate the value of walking a mile in another’s shoes. Two millennia earlier, the apostle Paul told us to “be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). He also instructed us not to be selfish or proud but to humbly put other people first and to be concerned for their good (1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:3-4).
Paul reminded us that Jesus did exactly those things and more. It’s our joy and aim to follow His perfect example. “In your relationships with one another,” Paul wrote, “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 NIV). Jesus, fully God, became human so He could walk a mile in our shoes (Philippians 2:6-8).
Because we’re made of flesh and blood, Jesus also became flesh and blood (Philippians 2:7). He became one of us so that He could suffer for us (Hebrews 2:9). Only by becoming like us could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who held the power of death. Jesus had “to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that . . . he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
Jesus became like us, and He fully understands and empathizes with us as only He can. We can now come boldly before our gracious Savior and experience the grace and help we deeply need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 20:1-19
Read Hebrews 2:14-18 and 4:14-16 to see how and why Jesus had to walk a mile in our shoes.
What does it mean for you to walk a mile in Jesus’ shoes? (Luke 9:23-24). How can you show more empathy to others because of what He’s done for you?