Beloved, it seems more and more God has me to speak concerning relationships, and I rejoice in this. Why? Because all of life is relational. However, the greatest of relationships is not human-to-human, but God-to-human. If we would only embrace this and witness it being our truth and our joy and our strength, all other relationships will experience the love of God. With that said, I now invite you into my HEART...
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NIV)
Emulate: to do like; to follow the example of; to follow in the footsteps of: To emulate Christ in heart, in mind, in body and soul.
Beloved, as I thought of healthy boundaries and unresolved issues between all sorts of relationships, the above words in scripture came to me. This I believe and is the truth I speak: To do to others as we would have them do to us, takes a lifetime to master, however, it doesn’t require anyone to be a master in order to start implementing it into their lives right where they are at!
The principle behind these words are quite easily confused. Jesus when speaking such epic words to His audience never intended it to be taken as such— to be in response of what others do to us. His intentions then as they are now and will always be, is to act out what we desire for others to emulate.
What does this mean? Jesus wants us to always do the action that we would be willing to accept in return, regardless of what response is returned. This is hard to do many times, as I can attest to that, however it does not diminish the fact that we are all capable of acting out of our desire to be respected, honored and loved rather than reacting to the responses of others.
Here are some actions that are praise worthy:
- Speaking kindly to others.
- Respecting the opinions of others regardless of not agreeing with them.
- Allowing others to speak their mind.
- Receiving an apology however it comes (i.e. In person or on paper depending on the persons strengths to communicate) without criticizing it and dismissing it.
- Giving your full attention to others when they are speaking (i.e. Eye contact, cellphone down, tv off, radio off, head nodding and repeating back what you just heard for clarity: i.e. “Let me see if I understand what you are saying...) not allowing any outside distractions to easily interrupt the opportunity for intimacy, trust, honor and mutual respect to be established.
- Asking for forgiveness when you are clearly in the wrong and know you have hurt and/or offended someone.
- Informing others that you are angry and why you are angry without retaliating or seeking revenge for it prior to discussion.
Here are some reactions that are not praise worthy:
- Speaking defensively to others.
- Disrespecting the opinions of others and not giving way to a peaceful resolution.
- Not allowing others to speak their mind by raising your voice over theirs.
- Rejecting an apology however it comes, criticizing it, dismissing it and letting them know how they ought to had apologized to you.
- Not giving your full attention to others, allowing outside distractions to easily interrupt the opportunity for intimacy, trust, honor and mutual respect to be established.
- Not even seeing you are in need of forgiveness when you are clearly in the wrong and know you have hurt and/or offended someone. Completely revealing you are indifferent to the other person you have hurt and at the same time undermining their worth.
- Not informing others that you are angry and why you are angry and making the decision to retaliate, to seek revenge and not a peaceful resolution.
We have all had these reactions to some measure and degree towards others, and in light of the words of Jesus simply put; ‘to treat others as we would have them treat us,’ doesn’t it beg the question: Where do I stand in my relationships when it comes to being responsible for my own actions?
Beloved, we can easily play the blame game; point the finger or simply remain quiet and allow hurt, spite, anger and all those damaging emotions to remain unresolved and continue to affect our relationships, past, present and future, or we could make the choice and start to display some real power in doing to others as we would have them do to us.
Jesus finished this statement of truth and direction for our lives like a true compass that would never fail us, by saying, “for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” What He meant by this is that, all of scripture from the very first word of the very first sentence to the last period of the last sentence, is all about what will be done first as an action and never as a response to someone’s reaction. By this, we can surely see the goodness of God at work. For if God who is holy and just, sought to do to us as we have done to Him, we would all equally receive our due portion of hell.
God was never obligated to love us and give us life
However, and this is a big HOWEVER. God doesn’t respond to our reactions, He graciously and mercifully acts first out of His love. By this action, surely we can respond to Him in like manner.
He actions not our reactions
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 in to the world to condemn the world [our reactions], but that the world through Him might be saved.
(John 3:16-17 emphasis added by me)
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another [turn our reaction into God’s action]. (1 John 4:10-11 emphasis added by me)
We love Him because He first loved us.
(1 John 4:19)
Let us all pray to God, that He would help us emulate; to become such a blessing as He is—Someone who will graciously and mercifully act out of the love of God. Amen.