"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you..." (Matthew 7:12).
And yet, do we really know what it means? This morning, the pastor challenged us to consider our understanding of this command in light of the fact that familiarity often breeds misunderstanding. When we are super-familiar with a concept, it is easy to check out and not really think about it. We've heard it so often and feel certain that we've got it down. For example, we know we're supposed to do to others as we want them to do to us. Maybe we've boiled that down to simply not doing bad things to other people - that's easy enough, right? If we don't do bad to someone else, they won't do bad to us...?
Familiarity also means we usually limit our thinking to the most recent and most comfortable version of the concept. When we're familiar with something, we don't challenge ourselves to consider it from different perspectives - you see it through the lens you've always seen it through, right or wrong. Along with the previous example, not doing bad is easier and more comfortable than the proactive call of the verse: to do good. If we limit the command in Matthew 7:12, to simply not doing evil, we could satisfy it by really not doing anything.
What if we sought not to avoid doing wrong but allowed this command to stir us to action? To do good? What if we stopped viewing life from the most comfortable perspective and instead chose to look for ways to love and serve others? It involves sacrifice and humility. It takes us out of our comfort zone and puts us in challenging situations. It's draining and hard...
...and rejuvenating and uplifting. We can gain our strength from the acceptance and grace of God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We did not have to earn His love. What a relief! I could not do it out of my own strength.
So may we take the initiative to look for ways to do good to others without expecting anything in return.
"Love is willing self-sacrifice for the god of another that doesn't demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving." -Paul David Tripp