“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12).
I read these familiar words and screech to a mental halt. A handful of recent irritations and hurts come to mind. What are you doing about these? a little voice whispers. How are you responding to those who have mistreated you? What are your thoughts toward them? What do you say about them to others?
These are great questions. They force me to examine my attitudes and measure them against God’s words. Am I treating these people as I want them to treat me? Are my thoughts about them kind and honorable, as I want their thoughts about me to be? Are my words kind and gracious if I speak about them to others? Bottom line, am I doing to them as I want them to do to me?
If the answer is no, then I’m likely doing the opposite – I’m doing to others as they do to me.
My sinful nature says I’m justified. If someone gossips about me, it’s okay for me to bad mouth her. If a family member’s issues make my life difficult, then it’s okay for me to generate grief for him in return. If someone consistently fails to fulfill her promises to me, then it’s okay for me to fail to follow through on mine. Fair’s fair, right? Wrong. God has higher expectations than that for His kids’ attitudes and behaviour.
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” Aw, do I have to? Must I really refrain from undercutting so-and-so’s reputation after she lied about me? Must I really speak respectfully to the person whose sarcasm cuts and stings? Must I really continue loving the person who misconstrues the things I say for her own gain?
Yes, I really must. Thankfully God never issues a command without providing a way to fulfill it. When we’re in relationship with Him, His Holy Spirit lives in us and enables us to do those things that are humanly impossible. He’s the One who helps us overcome the temptation to indulge in sweet revenge and to respond in a way that honors Him.
And so I press forward—learning, growing, changing, experiencing a character makeover based on the Golden Rule. It seems that life might be easier without it sometimes, but that’s not to be. The mandate’s been stated and it’s my job to do what it says…even when it’s difficult. Sigh.
Can anyone relate?