Christians have a wonderful ‘Golden Rule’ that prompts us to fulfil the second greatest commandment. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to Love Our Neighbour as Ourself.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus also gave us what we call the Golden Rule, when He instructed His disciples to do to others what we would wish others to do to us.
“Whatever you wish that men would do to you, you do even the same to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Human nature has an opposite form of the ‘Do Unto Others’ rule. Instead of calling us to do to others what we want them to do to us, our human nature would rather repay others for the hurtful things we feel they have done to us.
Vengeance runs deep in the veins of human nature. It is an instinct often seen in young children, so it’s hardly a learned process, but more an expression of the fallen human nature.
We react to others with a retort, vengeance, spite, retaliation, rejoicing in their ills and so on. This is the opposite of treating people the way we would wish to be treated. The selfish ‘Do Unto Others’ is the spiteful ‘I will make you suffer because of what you did to me.’
Think of the things you may have heard people say when they have been upset.
“If that’s the way you feel about it you can forget about getting any support from me!”
“How dare you say that!”
“I’ll show you.”
What is interesting in this rather natural vengeance reaction is that people often to do others the very thing they would accuse the other of doing to them. If someone is angry to them, they will be angry back. If someone shows lack of care toward them they show lack of care in return.
Yet, even though they have done the same thing they didn’t want done to them they will blame the other for what they did, on the basis “You did it first!”
This is hypocrisy, yet we excuse it when we are driven by our own self interest.
So we end up with silly situations like these:
“My spouse treats me poorly so I just ignore him (or her) and make them suffer!”
“My children don’t respect me or appreciate me so I don’t do anything for them any more.”
“My work associates try to get one up on me, so I am delighted when I can get one up on them.”
“She never was a very good wife so she deserves what she got!”
We are really poor at suffering wrong and blessing those who offend us, or are our enemies. Yet that is what Christ asks us to do.
“To those of you who will listen I say, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27,28
We are also told that it is not our place to punish people for the evil they do, even if they do it to us. Vengeance belongs to God not to us. We are not given the authority to take revenge, act in spite or pay people back for what they have done.
“Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.” Deuteronomy 32:35
“Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written: Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
When you ‘Do Unto Others’ is it doing to others what you want them to do to you, or is it the doing of retaliation and spite? Do you bless or are you into ‘payback’?
As someone who belongs to Christ your heart is not to be one of spite and retaliation.
To those of you who have a heart of spite toward your spouse, family members or others, I challenge you to check your heart. You are acting like an unregenerate heathen, and not like Christ, who brings grace, and you are not following the instruction of Christ, and you are taking on yourself a privilege that belongs to God. Instead you are to love those you currently feel bad feelings toward.
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against any of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18
Friends, it’s time to stop and take account of how you Do Unto Others.