…Even when we do not feel like it
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Maybe you are like me, and you can remember from your grade school years being taught “The Golden Rule” which is easily summed up as treating others the way you want to be treated. I have read this verse countless times through the years. In fact, it is almost one of those verses that you complete in your mind as you are reading it. In my experience, when I am guilty of this, I lose the meaning of what I am reading because I am reciting it from memory. Recently, though, in my coffee time with Jesus, I was writing this verse. There is something about writing the words of Scripture that make them fall afresh. When I write verses, I process the words and transfer them into my memory with awareness. As is the way of my time with Jesus, He would not let me forget this nugget. It percolated in my mind as I said it over and over to myself. I finally was just brutally honest with Jesus and told Him why this was bothering me so much. And then, of course, I had to pose the same dilemma to my people. All of whom, I am certain, must think me a little off my rocker. I realized that this verse could take us into a tailspin. Here is why. I read this verse, and my flesh struggles against it and argues that when I am rude or impatient or unkind, I am responding to the way people have treated me. This must mean they desired to be treated in this way; otherwise, they never would have behaved this way towards me to begin with, right? Or is this just me?! Probably so.
However, God did not leave me to the worldly ways and desires of my flesh, glory to God. Jesus showed us a different way, a better way. The upside-down way of the Jesus economy. Regardless of how others have treated me, behaved towards me, insulted me, offended me, or fill-in-the-blank, Jesus says treat them the way I wish they had treated me. Be different. Be the leader. Be His light. He says, and demonstrates, to turn the other cheek. He told us to pray for our enemies, to love our enemies. Each of these things in counterintuitive to our human nature. Walking with Jesus continues to show me how He always chose the higher road. Reading His Word repeatedly demonstrates opportunities to choose humility in the face of my pride being wounded. My inner sense of justice demands to be satisfied, but His Spirit within me strengthens and encourages me to choose the Jesus way. Ashamedly, I admit I fail at this miserably, daily. I so want to be like Him, to emulate Him, to imitate Him, to radiate Him. But this human flesh of mine is often dictating my reflexes that are not reflecting the Jesus way. Even today, when presented with the opportunity to treat my husband how I would like to be treated, I chose the low road. Satan, 1. Dawn, 0. But, praise Jesus, I know the final victory has been won. And God, in His goodness and kindness towards me, has forgiven me (and so has my hubby), and, maybe next time, the voice of the Holy Spirit, the conviction, will be louder than my flesh. And I will choose the high road.
Hindsight is 20/20, and it is becoming clearer to me how I have been operating from the reactive stance rather than the proactive one. Today, I want to make changes. Be the friend who reaches out first, rather than wonder why I haven’t heard from someone in a while. Respond and continue to encourage, even when I am not acknowledged. Be kind, even when treated rudely. Offer grace and forgiveness, even if it is for the same offense over and over again. Don’t take things personally. Smile first. Speak first. Be who I wish others would choose to be towards me, towards my husband, towards my children. Forgive. Do not judge. Be counter-cultural. Be silent. Be bold. Even when I do not feel like it. Jesus was insulted, attacked, beaten, mocked, and betrayed. But He did not react or feel the need to defend Himself. Be Jesus to others! This is The Golden Rule.