December 6, 2012

Do unto others…

This morning I received a call from a neighbor who is working in another city. Her security company phoned with the news that something triggered the alarm on her patio door. While venturing out in the dark was a little intimidating for me, it felt good to do a favor for a friend. Also, with a foot of fresh snow yesterday, it was easy to see that no one had been anywhere near her home. 

After reading today’s devotional, I wondered if the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is a command for life or another way of saying whatever you dish out will come back to you. 

Modern maxims say the same thing, such as: smile and the world smiles with you. It seems true. I’ve also noticed that when I am a polite and careful driver, so are others. When I am thankful, others are thankful. When I complain, others complain. While none of this is one hundred percent 24/7, it seems to be generally true most of the time.

However, it is important to remember that God looks for unselfish motives. The idea of giving so I can get something back throws this maxim out a window. Think also of the preachers who use it to get gullible people to send them money. This is a repulsive abuse of this important principle, never mind an abuse of the pocketbooks of those who fall for it.

On the other hand, God does bless good things done for others. An Old Testament proverb puts it this way: “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:25). 

The words of Jesus bear out this ‘equal measure’ maxim. He says things like:

Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. (Mark 4:24)

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:37–38)

Another New Testament passage talks about giving in this same ‘equal measure’ manner showing that God is behind the idea that we get back what we give out.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully…. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:6–11)

All of this has me thinking of the rewards God gives for obedience. Sometimes they are immediate; sometimes they are reserved for eternity. The reward might be like the deed, such as money for money, but it also could be different, such as getting warm from good exercise on a cold morning in trade for giving someone else peace of mind. 

Either way, it is never a bad idea to do good for others.

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