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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Doing doesn't always guarantee getting

Even when people don't know they "know" scripture, or that they may be quoting the Bible when they say something, people can be heard sharing tidbits of God's Word with others.  Ever heard anyone recite the "golden rule" without really knowing it was from the Book of Matthew?  The "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" kind thing gets said in many ways, but the "source" of the quote is seldom known.  It was Jesus himself, reminding the crowd who had gathered to hear him preach that their life is made rich when they live by a standard of maybe just a little bit higher than what they see modeled around them in some member so society.  Some might "model" it is okay to return not so kind actions when the actions done "to" them have not been very kind themselves.  I love it whenever I see those who have just the opposite reaction, turning to another in love rather than judgment, giving what they have instead of hoarding it all to themselves in times of disaster, etc.  This behavior models what Jesus had in mind - doing for others, not so they will do for you, but because it is the way we should model God's love!

Do for others what you would want them to do for you. This is the meaning of the Law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets. (Matthew 7:12 ERV)

A lot of times we think "what's in it for me" if I do this for that guy?  What we "get" out of our actions may just be a deeper sense of connection with Jesus when we choose to act upon what we know to be right rather than what we feel! It is hard to no react to the way we feel sometimes - because we "want" to ring someone's neck when they do something hurtful to us - but Jesus wants us to model turning the other cheek, not judging them for their behavior, and remembering to let God take control of the circumstances.  It is what he has spent a great deal of time talking with the "hillside crowd" about in the Sermon on the Mount.  He has shared many relationship principles, but probably none so hard as doing something out of a genuine heart of wanting to bless another individual rather than to always get the blessings yourself.  It is more common to exist in the "you scratch my back - I'll scratch yours" kind of focus.  After all, society tells us we have "rights" and we need to have those "rights" met.  

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but Jesus never said our "rights" outweighed the requirement to treat others with kindness, respect, or love. In recent days, we have seen mass murder at military recruiting stations, shootings in movie theaters, criticisms of one political candidate against another, continued unrest in regions of our world where war just doesn't seem to be without end, and the list goes on.  Lots of people, proclaiming some set of "rights" in the absence of considering the "rights" of another.  The one "right" Jesus wanted us to remember is this "right" to be living examples of God's love. We have the opportunity to model behavior which is free of judgment, slow to get angered, committed to relationship, and persevering in its focus - so others might see God in a world hurting so badly for some sense of "right" in a place where "wrong" is so prevalent!

We may not have this all figured out, but we can take small steps toward being less focused on some "right" we have and being more like the positive examples of God's love in our circles of influence we are called to be.  I don't have to engage in sin to know sin brings harm into the lives of those who choose that pathway of action.  I don't have to judge them for their sin either, because I wouldn't want them to judge me for mine!  I can love them right where they are at - in the midst of whatever they are doing which may not be all that honorable or caring - because God loved me that way when I was doing stuff very dishonoring to him, myself, and others to boot!  If we keep this in mind, maybe we will do a better job of modeling forgiveness - because we have fallen back upon God's forgiveness time and time again.  

Some may feel Jesus is telling us to "cut someone a little slack" when he says to forgive - but in reality he is telling us to let them go - right into the hands of God.  No one can better reveal a man's sin or wrong action than the Holy Spirit himself!  We may feel like we don't always get treated right when we consistently model right behavior - but we don't know the impact our behavior will have on another somewhere down the line.  It isn't Jesus telling us to act this way so we "get" anything out of it!  It is him telling us to act with kindness, gratefulness, forgiveness, compassion, etc., because it is the right thing to do! Plain and simple - just sayin!