Last Sunday afternoon Elaine and I had been worshipping with others on Facebook LIVE in the morning services. As well, we watched and listened to some friends and their church services. This, of course, is not what a preacher did or for that matter what most of us would have done on a Sunday morning before shelter in place became the prescribed thing to do in fighting COVID-19. We were sitting in our family room and I was thinking about life. Life today and what life has been like and for the most part, life goes on in a fairly predictable way. We are born, grow up, and then branch out on our own.
Now I recognize that the 3 steps I have stated are extremely elementary but they are indeed the steps. It is within those steps where life is actually found. The experiences with mom’s and dad’s, siblings, extended family, and then friends we make. It is going to school and learning. It is not just reading, writing, and ’rithmatic. It is how to function with and deal with others. You know the others who will be in our life for the rest of our life. The ones we like and the ones we don’t really care to be around. The ones who will agree with us and then the ones who will disagree because they actually do. Yet there will be some who, as they say, will disagree just to be disagreeable.
Once we branch out on our own it truly becomes our responsibility to do the right thing. To act the right way and be a good citizen. So the question becomes how do we do that? Well, it began when we were growing up. Not only did family, but school and people also teach us. These things we hopefully learned from a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we read the Bible and studied it so we would know how we should act.
It is important for us each to know that whatever way you want others to treat you, you need to treat them that same way. In Matthew 7:12 we see "Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.”
I am not sure what your take on this point is but let me share with you how I see this and how I use it in my life. Life has taught me, through this text, that if I will treat people kindly they will treat me the same way in kind. Now if you ask me I will honestly tell you that it has not always worked out that way. It was not because I didn’t try but it was because they did not respond in like manner. So I know you are asking what happened? I don’t know for certain in each case and I really wish I did. Things started off fine and I would do exactly what the Scripture said. Of course, that was bolstered by the upbringing of my parents who lived this out and were an example and they reminded me to do unto others the way I wanted them to do unto me. Yet there was a time when for reasons unknown to me things changed. I know I hadn't but they had. I was doing all I could to treat people kindly. Unfortunately, that was reciprocated as I had hoped it would.
This is probably a good time to let you know that everyone is not at the same place spiritually and especially in maturity. There are a lot of people who are physically mature in age but are infants spiritually. Paul refers to them as carnal. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (KJV) – “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” So we see that there can be those we want to do the right thing toward but they are incapable of returning the same because of their carnal life. Please understand this does not mean they are lost. They may well be saved but have never grown spiritually from milk to meat.
So here is another thought for you today. We are dealing with a lot of people who simply don’t want or are not willing to forgive others. Don’t be guilty of this and I will tell you right now I am not and strive daily not to be. So if God forgave you so you are to forgive others. Not because I said so but because Scripture says in Ephesians 4:32 “Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”
Forgiveness should be your go-to no matter what. Now again I would imagine you are asking yourself have I forgiven others? The answer is yes and it is so simple because that is what the word tells us to do. The idea that we cannot forgive someone because of what they did to us is wrong and thus being unforgiving is simply wrong.
God forgave the world from its very foundation. In Revelation 13:8 we read in the latter part of the verse “...before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” Even before the foundation of the world the Lamb, Jesus was slain. He wrote our names in the book of life. This is so important to understand that from what we would call the beginning Jesus was prepared to die and rise from the dead for our sins. If He can forgive us of our sin then quite simply you need to get over it and do exactly what Scripture says to do “...Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” He forgave you before it all started so how dare you not forgive someone as quickly as they might harm you. As John Maxwell likes to say, just a thought.
There are many people who are what we call benevolent. They help people and they fight for what we often see as good causes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and in many ways it is admirable. It makes them feel good and it is honoring others. It is really the right way to live.
Now we should be doing the same thing. Many of us are and so keep up the good work. For those of you who are not please be sure to catch this thought. The Scripture has a perspective on this point as to what we should be doing. Helping people is as if you were helping Jesus. He said it Himself and it is recorded for us in Matthew 25:40 … 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me.'
Here is what you need to get from this, we should see others as Christ and what we do for them is as unto Him. You may think that people may not deserve it but I will guarantee you that Christ does. I know this is not the way we think or see people. Those who have hurt us and those who are not like us or those who don’t “like” us. You get that right? There are those who have been hurtful to you. Those who are not like you in appearance, ethnically, socially, economically, you get the idea. Then the ones who don’t “like” you, which by the way is never to be the case for Christian brothers and sisters. That makes us stop in our tracks. We know what we should do but so often we don’t. In Romans 7:15 Paul said, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” Later in the chapter, he refers to himself as a wretched man because of this very fact which we are all guilty of, so can I get and Amen.
So what is the take away from today? Whatever way you want others to treat you, you need to treat them that same way. So if God forgave you so you are to forgive others. Helping people is as if you were helping Jesus.
I know this is not a cure for COVID-19 but as I remember someone saying when I was growing “it’ll be good for ya”.
A thought to ponder,