And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
And everyone who is reading nods cheerfully and gives a hearty, “Amen!” That is until you think of the person who has wronged you. That is until you think of the one who has been gossiping about you. That is until you think of your arch nemesis and that irritating personality who really rubs you the wrong way. It’s easy to nod our head in agreement with Jesus as long as we think of people who do good to us. Jesus must have anticipated the human mind thinking like that because the next words out of his mouth are, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same” (Luke 6:32-33).
I’ll be transparent with you. When I was first taught the “Golden rule” in preschool a little more than 20 years ago, they didn’t teach it like that! 20 years ago my teacher used it to encourage me to share my Lincoln logs. I would want my fellow preschooler to share his Lincoln Logs with me wouldn’t I? Of course. So, I should share my Lincoln logs with him. That’s a really nice thing for a five year old kid to do. It probably would have made for a cute Instagram moment-if Instagram had existed then. However, I’m not so sure that I would have felt like sharing my Lincoln logs if the kid had stolen them from me first.
I think the latter is the point that Jesus is addressing. It’s simple to share your Lincoln logs when you’re thinking about getting something. That’s easy. Your flesh loves it. Every sinner is capable of loving people who love them. But what Jesus is teaching is difficult. That is loving people who are not so lovely towards you. Let’s fast forward 20 years. Your enemy is most likely not the kid who stole your Lincoln logs. But what about that colleague you heard gossiping about you in the work room? What about the jerk who sits next to you in class? Or shall I dare say the family member you are feuding with? That’s the person Jesus is telling you to love. It’s difficult to love, be kind towards, give mercy to someone who has wronged you. It’s difficult because you’re not thinking about getting something, but you know it will cost you something. Yes, your pride. That’s not natural. That’s difficult. Your flesh hates the thought of it.
But this “golden rule” calls you to this kind of selfless pride swallowing love toward others. It’s actually not so much a “rule” per say as it is a “result.” You see Jesus yet again anticipates the arguments of our flesh. Thus He gives a pride killing truth for His disciples to consider, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). We who have been shown marvelous, oh marvelous grace should leave no room for grudges and bitterness in our hearts. We should not be harbors of hate, but should be mirrors of mercy. My treatment of others is not to be a reflection of their treatment towards me, but a reflection of my Father in heaven who is merciful. What a wonderful way to empower the living out of the golden rule.
You’re going to need a lot of prayer to implement it and your flesh will fight you the whole way but don’t miss the real calling of the golden rule. Don’t just share your Lincoln logs with your buddies, but even with your Lincoln logs stealing enemies. The Lord promises a reward for such selfless love (Luke 6:35) and maybe, if the Holy Spirit intervenes, they won’t just see you. They will see a reflection of The Father in heaven who has and is merciful beyond comprehension to His children.