When we think of the Golden Rule, it’s easy to see how others ought to be treating us, and we see all of our own actions as a response to the hurtful, coldhearted, and frustrating actions of others, then justify them accordingly. We think others deserve to be treated the way they are based on our observance of the way they act.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” We are not to treat people the same way that they treat us… we are to treat others the way we want to be treated!
Think for a moment of how you want others to treat you. I would like to be treated with respect, kindness, and encouragement. That being said, according to the scripture, when is it acceptable for me to not treat someone else in this way? When they hurt my feelings? When they lie to me? When they talk about me behind my back? No, not even then. I am to do to others what I wish they would do for me — at all times. Not just when they deserve it. Even when people do wrong, we should handle the situation in a respectful way so that bridges don’t burn, and they feel they can depend on us to always be fair and forgiving. After all, who hasn’t needed forgiveness at least once in their life?
When we treat others the way we would like to be treated, God gets the glory because He can be seen in our life. As we respond to others in this way, we become a great character witness of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our life. They notice a change and our uncommon reaction sparks wonder in the thoughts of others.
Jesus wanted us to understand how important it is to be consistent. We need to be less concerned about how others treat us, and more concerned about how we treat them. We base most of our daily actions and responses on what is happening around us, and the attitudes of others, when we should be the ones setting a precedence with our behavior. Kindness is contagious.
We often underestimate our influence in the lives of others when it comes to a positive attitude, yet we overestimate our smart remarks, cold looks, and retaliation as teaching someone a lesson. While we are not perfect people and we do not live in a perfect world, if we would follow this simple rule, what a better place this world would be!
I pray, “Father help me see more of my own faults and less of those around me. Let me be a witness for You by treating others with the same love and forgiveness that You have shown me. Let me encourage others rather than tear down, and let me show kindness, not based on whether someone may deserve it, but because You have asked me to, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg.