From the Pastor’s Pen:
“Blessed...” (Matthew 7:12)
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
“The Golden Rule” - how many of us have heard this rule echoed into our ears after some minor offense? Or, some upset individual points their finger in your face and exclaims, “Is this how you’d like to be treated?!” Written into our very moral fiber is a yearning for equity and justice. Yet, let me ask you a question: what does that look like?
Are we to gauge the extend of “The Golden Rule” by the depth of our neighbor’s fairness? Families have often resorted to playing “Dirty Santa” because it’s cheaper and it’s fair! Everyone from your favorite cousin to the most obnoxious uncle gets a gift of the same value. Fair, right? But what happens when the quality of gifts decline? Everyone gets an equally worse gift. Still fair, right? We see the same issue in our communities. Charles Murray notes that the general helpfulness of our neighbors have decreased over 15% from 1970-2010. The Law and the Prophets do not establish our neighbors as the barometer of equity.
Where are we to look? Well, Christina Rossetti pens:
“Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
With one voice, the Law and the Prophets establish the bar of equity at the level of God’s treatment of us. In the manger lay the Prized Pearl of Heaven being pawned for dirty, defiled, helpless we - not because of our strength, but because of our weakness; not because of our righteousness, but because of our unrighteousness; not because of our glory, but because of our shame; not because of our works, but because of our debt; not because of our godliness, but because of our ungodliness. Christmas reminds us that God’s gift far outsizes our giving.
So how should we treat others? As God as treated us. John Calvin notes: “The Lord demands that we do good to all, without exception, even though most people are unworthy if we judge them on their merits. What if we think he is not worth lifting a finger for? Even supposing the man deserved nothing from us, but instead had grossly abused and injured us, that would not be sufficient reason to stop loving him or doing him a favor. For if we argue that he has deserved nothing of the kind from us, God might well ask what he himself has deserved. For when he commands us to forgive men their sins against us, he lays those sins to his own charge.”
Emphatically I ask: how are we treating others? Is it with the same kindness that God has treated you? Whether it as small as a Christmas gift or as large as forgiveness, are we treating others as God has treated us?