“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)
It is such an overused rule. It is the golden rule. The law of God that encompasses all laws that deal with the interaction of your fellow man. It is strange though that we choose to do two things with it.
1. We choose to misunderstand what it clearly says.
2. We willfully choose to ignore it.
The first one is one we do not even realize we are doing. Perhaps the confusion is found in the translation of this verse that actually does not exist in any current translation “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.” We take this made up version, and misunderstand the word “unto” and get this general gist of the verse, “Don’t do something to someone that you would not want them to do to you.” This is a popular understanding of the verse, and creates the mistake of us missing the real point by a continent. Yes, that’s right. A whole stinking continent.
Saying this verse tells us to refrain from what to do misses a whole perspective to things. This verse tells us to go one very large step further. We need to treat others how we wish to be treated by them. We cannot simply refrain from showing hatred to someone. We must also should love and kindness to them if we wish to receive the same from them. We need to go out of our way to show care to them. We need to strive to meet their needs.
We ignore this rule though. Instead we follow a rule built out of pride. It is the rule of “earn it to receive it.” Do you want my respect? You better earn it. Do you want my encouragement? You better work for it. Do you want me to listen to you rather than think up my answer while you are talking? You better say something I actually want to hear.
Properly carrying out this verse requires us to put ourselves in the shoes of the person we are interacting with. It is not enough for us to do things the way we would like them to be done. We need to show these things in a way that individual cares about. What I may view as an incredibly kind and loving act of compassion may not register that way to someone else. A proper application of this verse demands of us to be entirely focused on others. In no way are we remaining focused on ourselves.
There is one other warning that must be made in this verse. Nowhere does it say that we will automatically receive the same response back from the individual if we do things right. We may show love, kindness, compassion, and respect to someone, but not receive anything like this in return. God never gives us that guarantee. He does not say, “do this and you will get what you want form someone.” He doesn’t tag on, “If they still treat you like a jerk then you can disregard this command.”
There is no loophole in this command. There is no way to get out of it. There is not secret way to abide by it, but be coasting through it. There is no way to act on this verse and remain focused on yourself. There is no guarantees of happily ever after with the individual you are having issues with. It is because it is never about getting what you want. It is about honoring God, depending on Him, and sharing a glimpse of His truth into the lives of those around you.
Don’t miss this verse by a whole continent.