We have probably heard of the Golden Rule. (And, I don’t mean the one that says, “Whoever has the gold makes the rules”.) Regardless of our upbringing, over time we accumulate some sense that it is appropriate to treat people the same way we want them to treat us.
Here is how Jesus put it:
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12 NASB
This is a fairly easy command to follow when those around us generally reciprocate. Maybe we have friends or colleagues who are great people, and we find ourselves being better by “osmosis”, just by being around them.
What about those people who don’t follow the Golden Rule, though? What about those who seem to have never heard of it, or maybe understand it and intentionally choose to live very differently?
Jesus doesn’t seem to be limiting his command with conditions or constraints. He specifically talked (as recorded a couple of chapters earlier) about not limiting who we show love to.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Matthew 5:46-47 NASB
But, as we try to show love to those who haven’t shown us the same courtesy, perhaps there is another reason for us to do so: Maybe those that don’t show love back to us, or don’t treat us the way we want to be treated, don’t actually know how.
We can promote and preach and pontificate and plead all day, but sometimes, words only go so far. Before I went to college, all kinds of people told me what it would be like. They weren’t wrong, but I didn’t actually comprehend the experience until I actually went off to college, myself. I had heard that Grand Canyon is big (no kidding), but I couldn’t appreciate how big it was until I stood on the rim and looked out at it. At some point, instruction must give way to demonstration and illustration.
Let us all strive to be able to say, like Paul, the following simple message:
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 NASB
Maybe your example of loving those who don’t currently show you love in return, is exactly the instruction that someone else needs. Something to think about.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
3 thoughts on “How Will They Figure It Out?”
This post reminds me that scripture frequently uses words like “know”, “hear” and “see” to mean more than just head knowledge, audible hearing or visual seeing. Often, it’s doing what is commanded that is meant; it’s experiential and active. Somewhat like someone saying, “I know how that is because I’ve had that happen to me.” Many times I’ve heard a parent say, “Did you hear me?” They really mean you didn’t do what I told you to do; so get at it. Likewise with “seeing.” In John 17:3, Jesus, praying to His Father, says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”(NIV) He is speaking of experiencing God, not just having a head knowledge of him. Other places He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” He does not mean only that we should acknowledge that we noted the sound of the words spoken.
Regarding this post: If we are experiencing Jesus, it WILL show in our words, actions … our whole life.
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Agreed! Thank you for capturing this. To take this point just a bit farther, Jesus talked of people like this – whose mere absorption of information was not enough for them to “get it” (per Matthew 13:13-15). Still, He made it clear that the outcome of loving Him was to obey Him, as He said in John 14:15. Ideally, I think that obeying Jesus is not just a choice that we make: loving Jesus is the choice that we make, and a change in our lives is what naturally happens when we love Him.