Devotional: November 24, 2020
Just as water reflects the face, so one human heart reflects another.
Proverbs 27: 19 New Revised Standard Version
I remember coming across a story about two different people who had moved to the same town, at approximately the same time. As they were talking, one of them complained bitterly, “This town is the worst place I have ever lived! People seem so unfriendly here. They won’t give you the time of day. After my experience, I don’t know why anyone would live here!”
The second person was taken aback. Although moving to the exact same town, at exactly the same time, he had experienced a much different welcome. He gushed, “What are you talking about? This town is the greatest! People are friendly, and engaging. They would do anything for you. This town has the best people! I am never leaving.”
While the story is probably fictional, there is a grain of truth within it. Two people had very different experiences when it came to moving to the new town. What made the difference? Most likely, it was the attitude they brought with them. Negative and grumpy people are not fun to be around. To an extent, they may even “inspire” a bit of grumpiness in even the friendliest of people, by just having to be around them. On the other hand, people who smile, focus on others, love to visit, go new places, and meet new people: they find almost every place to be friendly!
Apparently, there is even a word for trying to build rapport with someone by consciously, or subconsciously imitating their pattern of speech, their gestures, their body language, and their tone of voice. It is called “mirroring.” It’s almost a quiet compliment to acknowledge that you like the other person.
Here, the author of Proverbs speaks about how one human heart can mirror another human heart.
Connecting with someone else is good for all concerned. Making those connections requires listening, empathy, sympathy, patience and kindness. When we have a keen eye to what another person may be going through, we can find our focus going away from ourselves, and onto the other person. Then, we are not just mirroring them, we are also mirroring the love of Jesus.
Such thoughtful reflection is really an outgrowth of observing the golden rule: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. It is loving our neighbors, by getting outside of ourselves enough to really care about what they are going through.
Paul seems to endorse empathy as genuine ministry, for he writes to the church at Rome:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep; Live in harmony with one another.”
Romans 12: 15, 16a. New International Version
Thank you for loving me, and showing me how to reflect Your love to others. May my spirit be honorable and faithful to Your desires for my heart. Forgive me when I have negative and grumpy moments, and let them overtake my attitude. Help me to be a reflection of You, so that others will want to seek the joy and happiness You offer all of us.
Humbly I pray this prayer in the name of the one who came to serve, rather than to be served, Jesus Christ. Amen