One of my favorite things to do is gaze at the night sky. I love looking at the millions of stars, planets, and satellites all at once, but even more than that, I love focusing on one star, planet, or galaxy billions of miles away. Every star has a story, and every galaxy is its own adventure yet to be discovered. My favorite memory of gazing into the starry night was the night my wife and I went to the Yerkes Observatory outside Lake Geneva. We had a chance to look into an incredibly powerful telescope that allowed us to focus specifically on stars, galaxies, and even a rare glimpse of Venus.
The opportunity we had to focus on those objects in the universe changed forever how we looked into the sky from that point on. It is interesting how focusing on something can change your perspective and generate empathy. In Philippians 2, the Apostle Paul was writing to a church that God planted through him, and he was explaining how Christians are supposed to imitate how Jesus had empathy and served others. In Philippians 2:4, Paul says, “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
The word that Paul used in his letter for “looking” is the Greek word skopéō. This word didn’t mean just to glance or peek at something. It meant to intentionally focus and inspect. The Greek word that Paul used here would later evolve into the English word “scope” and be the root for other English words like “telescope” and “microscope.” Paul was explaining to the church in Philippi how Jesus focused on, and had empathy for, those for whom He came. This reality for the church to be like Jesus meant that people who follow Jesus are to focus on others and serve them. In other words, empathy follows focus and leads to service.
Who do you need to focus on so you can allow empathy and service to follow in your life? Spend some time thinking about this question and being honest with yourself about who you have willingly, or unintentionally, ignored.