Empathy—Combining Truth and Love
Eph 4:15: "speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" (NASU).
"Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love." -- John Stott
The essence of empathy is speaking the truth in love. A rescuing parent leans heavily on love, but shies away from truth. A dictating parent leans heavily on truth, but mixes in little love. A consultant parent is able to express his love for the child no matter what they say or do, yet is strong enough to deliver appropriate consequences and allow his child to struggle through them so that real learning takes place. It is a difficult balance, and our tension often reveals where we fall on the continuum between rescuer and dictator. Is your love too soft, or your truth too hard?
Striking a balance between truth and love models the Father's relationship with us.