Tag Archives: the Golden Rule

It’s Not Ridiculous (Luke 6)

It’s tempting to read these passages for the umpteenth time and overlook something God might want to say to us about it. That almost happened to me this morning. I was reading what God said about loving our enemies. You know it, right? Love them, do good to them, turn the other cheek. Yada Yada Yada.

My mind kept going to the climate in our nation here in 2020. Sadly, the term “enemy” has come to mean a person who simply disagrees with you; someone who is from a different political party than you; someone who supports a different side of the abortion issue. There are those who would like us to believe we should look at people with different skin color than our’s, or in a different tax bracket than us as the enemy.

And how do we treat our enemies these days? We burn down their businesses. Pull out a gun and shoot them. Beat them up. Slander them. Hate them.

The idea of turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, giving the shirts off our backs, loving our enemies and doing good to them is scoffed at. It’s weak! It’s ridiculous!

Did you know that Jesus gave us the Golden Rule as part of His message on how to treat our enemies? Yeah. Our enemies.

Now here is what I almost missed this morning. I believe God wanted me to see a short phrase in verse 36:.

because he (God) is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

Really? You might think that’s not at all right. God should destroy mean people, ungrateful wretches! Instead, Jesus tells us God is kind to them. Ridiculous?

Oh, it get’s better. After Jesus tells us this, he turns to us and says…

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Now wait a minute, God. If you want to be kind and merciful that’s up to you. But how can you expect me to be kind and merciful to these thugs, these degenerates, these people who call me names and threaten my safety?

“Because I said so,” He seems to answer me.

I challenge you to read this portion of God’s Word, and check your kindness meter. Is it reserved only for people with whom you agree? Do you have the attitude, “I’ll be kind to them IF they are kind to me? I’ll show mercy IF they show it to me first?”

Do you see an “IF” in God’s command to us to be merciful? I sure don’t.

Jesus tells us if we obey Him in this, “Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” He’s not saying we earn our position as His child by being nice to people. But He is saying that if we obey Him, people will notice and will identify us with Jesus, will recognize that we belong to God.

That’s not ridiculous!

Matthew 5-7; That Sums It Up

How do you define the Golden Rule? Do you, like many of the middle schoolers I worked with as a school counselor, believe it means you treat people the same way they treat you? If they’re nice to you, you’re nice to them. If they cross you, watch out! Pay-back ain’t pretty.

People, very often, use the behavior of others to rationalize their own bad behavior. Scroll through FB if you don’t believe me. Or watch the evening news. There is this unhealthy push to try to even the score in our modern society, whether the offense is real or imagined. I think it’s destroying us from the inside.

Jesus said the Golden Rule sums up the Law and the Prophets. The Law which God gave Moses to show us how we need to live our lives, how we are to consider others and revere God. The word “respect” comes to mind.

The Prophets told us about how God relates to it all. The words “holy,” and “fear,” and “awe” come to mind. And Jesus said the Golden Rule wraps it all up in a neat little package.

In these three chapters in the book of Matthew, Jesus spells out the practical side of life as His followers. If you want to know what the Golden Rule looks like…

Jesus said we are to be salt. A preservative, a flavor enhancer which needs to be applied to be useful. He said we are to be light, not hidden. A light which reveals sin by dispelling the darkness, then leads people to the Savior by lighting their way. (5:13-16)

He tells us we are to have a righteousness that is note-worthy. We who know the Savior know we have no righteousness of our own. But when Jesus clothes us with His righteousness, people can’t help but notice! (5:17-20)

Jesus tells us, in essence, if we want to live the Golden Rule, we can’t hate, or damage someone’s reputation, or get caught up in the name-calling. He says we need to settle disputes quickly, not sit around and seethe, or post a rant on FB, or spout off to a friend. (5:21-26)

He tells us to guard our hearts and minds, to look the other way instead of giving in to lust. I can’t help but think of the access to porn that is so readily available to people, including our children. Even the “soft porn” seen in many TV shows and commercials all day long. Jesus tells us we don’t have to do the deed in order to commit adultery. (5:27-32)

Jesus tells us to be honest, to keep our word without some grandiose gesture. A simple “yes” or “no” should be enough. Didn’t people used to say, “A man is as good as his word?” Hmmmm… (5:32-37)

Then Jesus gives us some hard to manage, not all that popular, words concerning people who do us wrong: Turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile. Be generous even if you might not be reimbursed. Love your enemies. Do good things for them. (5:38-48)

He tells us that, whether we are serving, giving, or praying, let it be between us and God. Face it, people who brag are usually ones to avoid anyway. (6:1-13)

Then Jesus says we need to forgive. Forgive. He doesn’t put the “if they deserve it” disclaimer in there. In fact, He says we are to forgive like we are forgiven by Him. (vs 12) None of us deserve that. (6:14-18)

Jesus tells us not to get caught up in the pursuit of material wealth. Again, people with that as a priority are boring, too. I don’t see how we can be salt and light if we are boring people to distraction by our constant talk of money, or worry about having our needs met. Know that God is able to meet all of our needs, and leave it at that. (6:19-34)

Jesus also tells us not be judgmental. We need to first recognize sin in our own lives, and repent of it. Then we need to reach out and encourage others to recognize their own sin so that they can repent of theirs as well. (7:1-6)

That about sums it up. Life would be so much better if we really did treat each other with respect, gentleness, generosity, honesty, purity, love, if we would think of others more highly than we think of ourselves. I mean, wouldn’t you like to be treated like that? Jesus would tell you, do for others exactly the way you would like to be treated yourself.

Don’t wait for someone else to start truly living by the Golden Rule. Why shouldn’t it start with you?

 

 

 

2 Chronicles 8-10; Try A Little Tenderness

Rehoboam didn’t inherit the wisdom his father, King Solomon, had possessed. His first act as the newly crowned king of Israel split the nation in such a way that Jews became enemies of Jews. Rehoboam’s actions had consequences that were felt for generations. And it started with a word.

Play the tough guy, Rehoboam, so people respect you. Come down hard so they obey you.

I wonder how Israel’s history would read if Rehoboam had replied to Jeroboam with a little kindness.

I don’t know what position of authority you hold. You might be a preacher, a CEO of a large company, or a small one. You might be the shift manager at a fast food restaurant, a parent, a teacher, the captain of your HS football team. I would suggest we all take a lesson from Rehoboam.

Ruling with an iron fist, making sure people know they are under your thumb, does not encourage loyalty. Oh, they may obey you while looking for another job, or counting the days until they can get out of your house. But rest assured, more likely than not they will leave you the minute they can.

Authority doesn’t have to be mean. Taking a stand doesn’t mean beating people into submission. A person can be firm and kind at the same time.

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Not sure why anyone would go fly-hunting, but I get it. Treat people the way you want them to treat you, goes for the workers and the bosses, the children and the parents, the parishioners and the pastor.

Rehoboam’s story tells me meanness divides. Try a little tenderness.

Deuteronomy 21-24; God Makes Sense

As Moses teaches God’s Law to the young Jews ready to take the Promised Land, I am struck by the sense and sensibility of it all. (I just watched that movie on TCM this week)

Oh sure, we could dissect the verses concerning divorce, or agriculture, or fashion, parenting, or even using the latrine. But don’t all these chapters fall under the Greatest Commandment Jesus talked about in Matthew 22? Love God, love others? Don’t these verses in Deuteronomy fit under the umbrella of the Golden Rule?

I think our world is in the state it is in because we aren’t living with the good sense God gave us. Love Him. Worship Him only. Be kind. Have integrity. Be honest. Have compassion. Eliminate sin. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you think of others. It just makes sense.

God makes sense.

Leviticus 5-7; Rubbing Shoulders

I volunteer with our elementary school’s Good News Club. What a blessing! One thing we teach the kids is that sin is “anything we think, do, or say that doesn’t please God.” Our leader told the kids yesterday that if they don’t love other people, they aren’t loving God.

That got their attention.

I’m sure all of us would agree sin is an affront to God, and it effects Him deeply every time we sin. We know His heart is broken when we sin. We know He is angry when we disobey. And we know that our sin effects our relationship with Him.

We live in a “me first” society. If it feels good, do it. You can’t make anyone happy until you are happy yourself. Look out for #1. I am worthy. I am powerful, I am lovable. I am… I am… I am…

Reading these chapters today reminded me that my sin effects God. But it effects others, too. Even sins I might commit unintentionally can hurt my loved ones, neighbors, coworkers, even strangers. And sometimes I need to make restitution, apologize, or receive someone’s anger over what I have done.

We don’t live in a vacuum. We rub shoulders with people every day. Children can get hurt when parents cheat and/or divorce. Parents get hurt when children go astray. Friends get hurt by gossip. We all end up paying for prisons, hospitals, war.

You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. But you are responsible for how you live, how you treat people, how you obey God. You are responsible for not causing anyone’s unhappiness by your sin.

Love one another. That’s how people know we are Jesus’ disciples. Do good to those who harm you. Pray for your enemies. Think of others before yourself. And treat them the way you like to be treated.

Please don’t fall for the lie that it’s your life and you can live it like you want. It is your life. I pray you’ll live it the way God wants.

Exodus 21-23; Play Nice

Wouldn’t life be amazing if everybody lived according to the principles God laid down for His children here in these chapters? Murder demands a death sentence, you pay your debts, you are honest, if you are guilty of careless behavior you fess up and pay up, and you don’t mistreat people. It’s the Golden Rule broken down into specific behaviors.

We live in a day where so many people trample over others in order to get ahead. One person’s rights trumps another’s rights, sometimes violently. We live in a society with a sue your neighbor mentality, and we are witnessing the consequences for such selfish and self-centered behavior.

But there are many who aren’t caught up in “self.” I see examples of that almost every day. And I hope you do, too.

I was talking to some friends of mine the other day, and they said they’d received a check from their granddaughter who was almost done paying for her car. They had loaned her the money and she’d been faithful to pay it back. Oh, that’s not unusual, they said. They’ve loaned money to most of their kids and many of their grandkids at one time or another. They never charge interest, and they’ve never been stuck.

In fact, the husband said they let the kids determine how much they can pay a month, AND he lets them keep track of the debt themselves. When the kids tell their parents they are paid in full, the parents trust them that they have indeed met their obligation. Debt paid.

Some of you might say that loaning money without charging interest is not good financially. That money would be gaining interest if it sat in the bank. So, while they are loaning money to their children, they are really losing money.

So?

These two are not in any way wealthy. She is a retired nurse, he a retired county worker. But when I read Exodus 22:25 I thought of them. They are living what God instructed the early Jews to do with their own families.

I know others who are financially generous. My sisters and their husbands are. I know many people who are generous with their time, their talents and abilities. I know honest and thoughtful people who live the Golden Rule every day. And life is better because they do.

Now let’s be clear. None of these good people are earning brownie points with God in order to earn heaven. We saw that in the chapters we read in my former post. But God would love for us to enjoy this life while we’re here. He’d like us to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, generous, thoughtful. He’d like us to treat one another in a way that we’d like to be treated ourselves.

We’re stuck here on this planet until God takes us home. So while we’re here, let’s play nice.