It’s something most of us learned as a child. In fact, many people don’t even know it’s from the Bible. It’s the “Golden Rule.”
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. ~ Matthew 7:12
I have to confess, for most of my life I’ve thought of those words very selfishly. “If you want others to treat you a certain way, then make sure you treat them likewise.” I’ve thought of it with me at the end. The issue that really matters to me is how I’m treated. But what happens if I treat others the way I want to be treated, and they don’t reciprocate? What if I’m nice and others are mean? What if I’m kind and others are cruel? Because my comfort is the ultimate goal, that’s a recipe for anger and resentment.
I’d like to pose that Jesus meant His words with the other person in mind. I think He understood that we all want to be treated properly, and His instruction to us is to treat others in that same way. And notice that Jesus really doesn’t allow me an “out” if the other person does not return the favor. His concern is how I act, not how others act to me.
To follow Jesus is to act from the inside out, not the outside in. Jesus loved those who hated Him, forgave those who executed Him, healed those who could give Him nothing in return. It’s at the core of why Jesus came, God loving those who had rejected Him, calling them to Himself. Jesus said it’s the ultimate point of the whole Bible, the law and the prophets.
Here’s the challenge: can I follow? Can I treat others the way I want to be treated, even if it doesn’t come back to me? Can I let go of all the ways others have wronged me, and just love as He loved? Can I love those who are repulsive to me, simply because they deserve to be loved?
Too often in the church that doesn’t happen. But that’s what it takes to be like the Jesus we claim to serve.