Friday, April 4, 2008

The (Non)Golden Rule

“Say not, I will do to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.” (Proverbs 24:29)

This verse is the so-called “Golden Rule”…in reverse. Whereas our Lord commanded in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even unto them” (in other words, treat others as you yourself would want to be treated), the wise man tells us there are those whose philosophy seems to be, “I’ll treat you the way you treat me” (in other words, “I can give as good as I get”). These kinds of people pride themselves in never being blind-sided or taken advantage of, never coming out on the short end of the stick.

The bad thing about this, however, is that we end up allowing other people to decide our conduct for us, since we always respond in kind. This makes a very predictable, unimaginative (not to mention, un-Biblical) lifestyle. Once someone especially adept at the art of irritation finds this weakness in our character, always sure of getting a rise out of us, we become fair game.

But what if—just, what if—when goaded, mocked, or even wronged, we responded with a soft answer (Prov.15:1), or turned the other cheek (Matt.5:39), or didn’t answer back (Tit.2:9)? Wouldn’t that be original? Wouldn’t that prove that no one but God dictates our responses?

As I see it, I have one of three choices when it comes to my dealings with others: 1) I can do unto others as they do unto me; 2) I can do unto others as I would have them do unto me; or 3) I can do unto others as God has done unto me.

Our Christianity is best seen, not in the way we act, but in the way we re-act.

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