So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12
Up until the time of Jesus, Socrates and other great thinkers had summarised ethical conduct in one statement. Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you. It's in the negative, it focuses on what you must NOT do. If you don't want someone to hurt you, then don't hurt them. If you don't want someone to lie to you, then don't lie to them. Sounds good, right? There’s a problem with this kind of philosophy though, it allows you to withdraw. Had the Good Samaritan we spoke about yesterday followed this line of thinking, he could have walked past the bleeding man on the side of the road with a shrug of his shoulders that said, “That's not my responsibility. I didn’t rob him. I didn't hurt him. It's not my problem, so I'm moving on.”
But then Jesus comes along in Matthew 7:12 and makes the most revolutionary ethical statement about how we are to live our lives every day. There is a huge chasm between the negative statement, “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you,” and the positive statement, “Do to others what you'd want them to do to you.” The positive statement doesn't allow us to withdraw. It puts us on a proactive stance. If you think of a way you'd like a person to treat you, then you proactively treat them that way.
Can you imagine what kind of world we would live in if people lived out Jesus’ words? Selfishness and self-centeredness would be a thing of the past. Everyone would be a servant. However, we live in a world that teaches us to look out for ourselves, to get as much as we can by giving as little as we can. We live in a world that teaches us that ‘what's mine is mine and I'll keep it’. A servant’s heart teaches that ‘what’s mine is God’s and I’ll share it.’
Prayer: Heavenly Father, it’s so easy to get caught up in the selfishness of the world. Teach me to proactively treat other with kindness, respect and love. Amen