A close-up shot capturing a weathered Bible page, revealing the scriptural verse that highlights the Bible's teachings on empathy, symbolizing the profound connection between spirituality and empathetic understanding.

What Does The Bible Say About Empaths?

Empathy is a valued human quality, allowing us to understand and share in the feelings and experiences of others. For those naturally gifted with a high degree of empathy, referred to as empaths, this ability can feel like both a blessing and a burden.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Bible does not specifically mention the term “empath”, but there are verses about the importance of compassion, caring for others, and bearing one another’s burdens which align with the core values of empathy.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore what the Bible reveals about empathy, highlight key verses about compassion and understanding, address potential challenges for empaths seeking to live out their faith, and provide actionable advice for empaths grounded in scripture.

Defining Empathy from a Biblical Perspective

The Gift of Understanding Others

The Bible has a lot to say about empathy and understanding others. In Romans 12:15, we are instructed to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” This speaks to the importance of being able to relate to what someone else is going through emotionally.

As Christians, we are called to compassionately put ourselves in others’ shoes instead of being indifferent to their suffering.

Jesus himself perfectly modeled empathy and emotional intelligence throughout his ministry. He was moved with compassion when he saw those who were hurting and in need (Matthew 14:14). Jesus could perceive people’s thoughts and discern their deepest needs (John 2:24-25).

He would meet people where they were at, connecting with them in a deeply understanding way. As followers of Christ, we are to “clothe ourselves with compassion” and “bear one another’s burdens” (Colossians 3:12, Galatians 6:2).

Those with the spiritual gift of empathy or “the gift of understanding others” have an exceptional capacity for reading people’s emotional states and listening without judgement. They can make deep heart connections very quickly.

This allows them to provide comfort, give wise counsel, or simply be a healing presence to those going through difficult times.

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

The Bible calls Christians to bear one another’s burdens. Galatians 6:2 says “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” When we help carry someone’s emotional or spiritual weight, we are fulfilling Christ’s law of love.

This kind of empathy in action goes beyond merely understanding someone’s pain. It moves us to get involved and be part of their healing process.

Here are some ways Christians can bear one another’s burdens:

  • Actively listening without judgement
  • Comforting those who are grieving through our presence and words
  • Providing meals, childcare, transportation to help ease burdens
  • Visiting and praying for the sick
  • Contributing financially to help meet tangible needs
  • Speaking words of encouragement and biblical truth to those struggling emotionally

Bearing burdens requires vulnerability, sacrifice, and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. It goes way beyond surface level niceties. As author Brennan Manning said “The great challenge is to say yes to people in their moments of no so that they can say yes to themselves.”

As Christians, we are called to be Jesus’ hands and feet – bearing others up in their weakness with agape love.

Key Bible Verses about Compassion and Care

Loving Your Neighbor

One of the most fundamental teachings of the Bible regarding compassion is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). This means we should treat others with the same care and concern we have for ourselves.

We are called to look out for the needs and wellbeing of those around us, just as we look after our own needs. The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates what it means to be a neighbor and care for others selflessly (Luke 10:25-37).

The Golden Rule

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). This golden rule encourages us to put ourselves in others’ shoes and treat them how we want to be treated. If we cultivate compassion, we will be thoughtful of how our actions and words affect those around us.

Small acts of kindness can make a big difference in other people’s lives.

Weep with Those Who Weep

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). God calls us to be sensitive to what others are going through, whether joy or sorrow, celebration or grief. We can demonstrate compassion by joining in others’ happiness and mourning with them in their pain.

Our presence and empathy in hard times can be a huge comfort.

Be Devoted to One Another

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). This verse reminds us that compassion starts with humility. We should not think of ourselves as superior to others. Rather, esteeming others highly allows us to be attentive to their needs.

A compassionate spirit values people more than personal status or comfort.

Challenges for Christian Empaths

Setting Healthy Emotional Boundaries

As highly sensitive people, Christian empaths often struggle with setting emotional boundaries. They tend to absorb the feelings and energy of others, which can be emotionally and spiritually draining.

Establishing healthy boundaries is essential for empaths to sustain their well-being while still showing Christ’s compassion to others.

Some tips for empaths to set better emotional boundaries include:

  • Recognizing when you are taking on someone else’s emotions
  • Learning to say “no” and not feeling guilty about it
  • Spending alone time to recharge after social interactions
  • Identifying supportive relationships that energize you

The Bible reminds empaths to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). Solitude with God can help empaths ground themselves emotionally and spiritually. Empaths should also look to Jesus as a model of establishing boundaries despite showing immense compassion.

Avoiding Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

Burnout and compassion fatigue are unfortunately common among empaths. As empaths pour themselves out to help others, they can easily become physically and emotionally exhausted. Symptoms of burnout include anxiety, irritability, digestive issues, insomnia, and more.

Here are some ways for empaths to avoid burnout:

  • Monitor yourself for signs of emotional/physical exhaustion
  • Set a sustainable pace when helping others
  • Take time to rest and engage in self-care activities
  • Ask God to sustain you according to His strength and joy

Philippians 2:3 reminds empaths, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” As empaths focus on humility and relying on God rather than their own strength, burnout can be avoided.

Dealing with Toxic People and Relationships

As highly compassionate people, empaths often attract and even enter into toxic relationships. Setting clear boundaries with manipulative/abusive people is crucial for empaths. While showing grace and patience at first is good, continually exposing yourself to toxicity is unwise and dangerous.

The Bible advises dealing with fool/abusive people in the following ways:

  • Avoid foolish arguments rather than engaging (Proverbs 20:3)
  • Stay away from angry, foolish, and perverse people (Proverbs 22:24-25)
  • If needed, cut ties and shake the dust from your feet (Matthew 10:14)

As painful as it may be, empaths may ultimately need to cut ties with toxic people for self-protection, while still praying for them. Having healthy boundaries does not make you un-empathetic or un-Christlike.

Scripture-Based Advice for Thriving as an Empath

Turn to God First for Comfort and Guidance

As an empath, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the emotions and energies around you. Remember to turn to God first in prayer, asking for comfort, wisdom, and guidance (Psalm 119:105). Set aside quiet time each day to read Scripture, reflect on it, and listen for God’s voice.

Passages like Isaiah 41:10 can reassure you that God is always with you. Ask Him to renew your strength when you feel drained (Isaiah 40:31). And pray for discernment to know when emotions belong to you or someone else (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Practice Regular Self-Care Habits

Make self-care a daily priority, not a luxury. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, exercise, and spend time in nature to recharge (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Set healthy boundaries and learn to say “no” to protect your energy and time (Matthew 14:23).

Release stressful emotions through journaling, worship music, art, or talk therapy. Limit news/social media that drain you. Manage relationships that are toxic. Be patient with yourself and take breaks when you’re feeling overwhelmed (Psalm 62:5). Your health impacts your ability to serve others.

Join a Compassionate, Understanding Faith Community

Having the support of other believers helps empaths follow Jesus faithfully. Find a church or small group where you feel accepted and understood. Getting involved in service activities can provide meaningful ways to use your gifts (Romans 12:4-8).

But balance caring for others with caring for yourself. Share your feelings and struggles honestly with trusted mature Christians (James 5:16). Let them know how best to support you. And be patient with fellow believers who may not understand your experiences.

Focus on identifying and using your spiritual gifts with grace and humility (1 Peter 4:10).


In conclusion, while the Bible does not use the modern term “empath,” it has much to say about embracing empathy, compassion, and understanding as integral virtues of Christian faith. Key verses encourage bearing others’ burdens, weeping with those who weep, and loving your neighbor as yourself.

For empaths who are followers of Christ, learning to balance caring for others with setting healthy boundaries and prioritizing self-care is essential. By turning to scripture as their foundation, empaths can thrive in using their gift of understanding to glorify God through serving others.

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