“Reading is fundamental.”- said some wise person…
Everyone has heard of the Golden Rule and probably knows it by heart. I will be honest, I either misread it in the Bible or I misunderstood it when others said it because I thought it said something totally different.
Open your bibles to Matthew 7:12 (NIV is below):
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Ok, so I will be even more honest, I probably never paid that verse any attention. I thought the Golden Rule meant that I should treat others how they treat me. See? Reading is fundamental. Furthermore, I thought this verse excused me for not loving those that I did not know. Basically, I thought it was ok for me to be selectively nice to other people; I was nice to those who were nice to me and nasty to those who were nasty to me. Yeah, I am pretty sure I misunderstood that verse. But so that you don’t misunderstand the command, also, let’s break this verse down…
So in everything…
I absolutely love when the Bible uses finite words, such as “all”, “immediately”, and “everything.” Oftentimes we want to question what the Good Word is saying, and we say, “but does it really mean this?” So then the Lord steps in with His finite answer and says, “but what does My Word say?” At the beginning of this verse we see these three words “so in everything…” and with two simple words, God tells us when we must do whatever follows that comma- in everything. In this phrase, everything is serving as a finite word, saying that no matter what, we must do whatever comes after the pause. With the word being finite, its validity is not dependent on how we feel or what may have happened to us, in everything we must do as the Lord commands.
…for this sums up the Law and the Prophets…
Bible check! Answer these questions for yourself:
- The Bible has how many parts?
- Which part was known as the Law?
- What is the name for the other part? (Ok, I helped you out with question one right here.)
The Bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. The biggest difference between the two is that the New Testament was written after the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, and the Old Testament was written before that time. When God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, He gave them the law, which was a set of finite rules and guidelines to follow. When they disobeyed or sinned, an offering of atonement had to be offered through the shedding of blood from an innocent lamb. In the New Testament, Jesus became that Lamb for us. He bore the weight of our sins and shed His blood for the remission of our sins. Thank You, Lord!
Before Jesus came on the scene, the Lord used the law and prophets (messengers who spoke the true, unadulterated words of God) to continuously call the people towards the Lord. Isaiah, Elijah, and Elisha are examples of prophets, whom the Lord spoke through to call His children back to Him. The law and the prophets (through God) said a lot about how God’s people should act and live. Turning back to Matthew 7:12, we see that the words which proceed this comma act as a summary of everything that the law and the prophets spoke of during their time.
The two commas in this verse give us three dependent clauses: the first clause states when we perform the second clause, and the third clause says that the second clause is a summary of God’s word (written and spoken).
Now what about that second clause…
…do to others what you would have them do to you…
I do not have the time to do this, but I am sure that if I surveyed every person on this earth, no one would say that they wanted to be treated poorly or with disregard or malice. In fact, I can safely assume that every person would say that they would like to be treated kindly, with compassion and with respect. So, if this is how we all want other people to treat us, then why do we not treat others this way? This part of the verse is simply saying “treat everyone as though it were you on the receiving end.” Again, this verse is not saying that we should treat others the way the person treats us or even how people in the past may have treated us, it is calling us to treat others the way we want them to treat us. Because I want to be treated fairly, kindly, and lovingly, that is how I try to treat others. I will admit, this is hard for me…
I am currently in a spiritual/biblical mentoring program with a pastor-friend, a Bible study at my church, and a discipleship program at another church. Three different classes, representing three different churches from all over Maryland, yet I could not grasp and apply Matthew 7:12 in my own life. I attended a prayer breakfast today, National Day of Prayer, and after about 30 minutes, I became consumed with disgust when I realized that the room was filled with people representing the opposing political party that I support. I sat there and recalled how the ancestors of those in the room had killed and destroyed my ancestors… and even how politicians in the room worked so hard to take away the rights and social services of people who look like me. My first sign that something was not right? We said the Pledge of Allegiance…at a prayer breakfast. I should have realized then that the whole event was going to marry God and country, but I was there for work, so I stayed. As I sat, I prayed because I could feel anger rising, calling to memory every racial oversight that I had ever experienced in my life. Oh, I was heated! But then God called this verse and my conversation with my mentor from last night to my mind. Specifically, I recalled this quote “I am what [who] I love, not who loves me.” (Thank you, Dr. Marji!) It was a heavy quote when she said it, but heavier when the Lord brought it back to me at the prayer breakfast.
As Dr. Marji (Dr. Marjorie Brown) and I had discussed, this quote is a supportive summary of Matthew 7:12… and John 3:16-17 (read NKJV below):
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Matthew 7:12 and John 3:16-17 are best friends that go hand-in-hand in our lives as Christians. God loves us so much that He treats us like He wants us to treat Him (and others)– with love. In fact, He loved us so much that He sent His only son to die for our sins. And then, Jesus, the Son of God loved us so much that He endured nails and the cross just to save us. I don’t know about you, but I am glad that God does not treat me like I treat Him…
There will be times in our lives where people do not treat us well or with the love and respect that we deserve. This fact should not stop us from treating them the way we desire to be treated- the way God treats us- with love and kindness. I struggled at that prayer breakfast because my flesh wanted to treat those attendees the same way history had played out and how they treated others. My flesh wanted to get the victory…but all victory is in Him. Instead of treating others how they have treated me, God calls me to treat them as He treats me…because ultimately, how He treats me is how I want to be treated by all. Jesus died for our sins because He loved (and still loves) us.
Even though we may not all know Him or even love Him the way He loves us, His actions show that He chose love, with no reciprocity.
2 Replies to “Love, with no reciprocity.”
This is so powerful. It’s tough to treat all individuals with love, light, and respect, especially those who have wronged me in some way…and I KNOW they do not wish me well. It helps me to remember that God loves them just as much as He loves me. And if He loves them, who am I not to treat them well. God expects more of me, unfortunately for me and to my utter disgust at times. I feel like a little kid at time…”but I don’t wanna.” Great piece 💕
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It is sooooooo tough! But if it were easy, it would not be love. Love is not easy, but it’s patient. Love is not easy, but it’s kind. Love is not easy, but it endures all things. God is love and that is who He calls us to be…and do. I didn’t want to either, but God… Be blessed honey.