Tag Archives: Jesus

How Do You Want to be Treated?

Matthew 7:12

7 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this fulfills the law and the prophets

We all know it. The “Golden Rule” it is called. It is known by cultures around the world, by Christian and non-Christian, by rich and poor, by big and small, by any race, sex or creed. This rule has been heard over and over again. Why is it that we have so much trouble understanding it?

Well, I can think of several reasons which I will share in this post. I’ll bet you can some up with a few more on your own. As I look at my own life and what I have witnessed and done myself, I can see so many ways that I fall flat on my face when it comes to this simple statement. It’s not on purpose, mind you. It’s a slip of the mental capacities, or it’s human nature, to just do what is best for me, not necessarily what is best for the other. I challenge you to see if you fit any of these patterns I am going to share.

The first is the “me first” or privileged society we live in today. It’s what I want ahead of all else. It’s my morality that matters. It’s my needs that trump yours. I must do what I have set out to do, and I’m not concerned whether you can fit into my plans or not. Have you heard that? I just heard it yesterday from one of my daughters! I hear it a lot. Once we have set course in a certain direction, we are not going to turn back and try and help someone else. This rule says to do what you would want someone to do for you, not what you want to do for them, or not for them.

We have one of our granddaughters living with us right now. Her cousins came down for Christmas this weekend. They spent the first night with us and had a blast. The last night they were staying in another city about 40 miles away so they could swim and head home in the morning. Our granddaughter wanted to go up swimming with them and needed a ride home if she did because I am not able to drive right now and my wife was working at a restaurant that night. But they had made their plans ahead and were not willing to drive her home. My lovely wife, who will do anything for her grandkids, drove up after work and picked her up. I rode with her and as always was amazed with her grace.

Would my daughter have liked us to bring her daughter home if a similar situation arose? We would have gladly done it. We would have figured out a way or altered our plans slightly to make it happen. But we would have done it, not because we would want the same, but because it is the right thing to do. Help someone else out if they ask, even if I have to go out of my way. Isn’t that what this rule says?

In our world today, we see this often. People will not go out of their way to help someone else out. They are stuck in their own little routines and heaven forbid someone should ask them to go out of their way to help. They forget that they might need that favor returned someday. When that day comes, they get mad because the other person won’t do what they would not do earlier.

The next thing is a simple thing called getting even. Well, they did this to me, so I’m going to do it right back! They gossiped about me, so I’m telling about them! They didn’t help me out at work, so I won’t help them! They didn’t wave at me so I’m going to snub my nose at them. How many times have we heard this, or been guilty of this? This is actually the exact opposite of the Golden Rule. It is saying they did it to me, so I’m going to do it to them because I did not like it! How backwards can it get? Yet our society seems to run on this sentiment.

This was me just the other day. I confess – I am guilty. I had ordered some things from a local gal who does a masterful job at couponing. She sells stuff out of her home that she has bought for pennies on the dollar and she is well below store prices. She was out of town when I sent in my order and hadn’t seen it, so I sent it again. She said she would get back with a price so I could write a check. She did not, so I prompted her. I got the price and asked her when I could come pick them up or could she deliver them. No response, for days. I asked again, three weeks after the order was placed, I still did not have the goods so I bought them at a local store.

My wife works with this gal at night, and she came home after I had bought them and said the gal was going to bring some stuff over because she felt bad. I told her that I had already bought it and didn’t need it. Then I said I would not order from her again. Yes, this is poor customer service, and in the eyes of the world, I would be justified in not purchasing from her again. But is this right? Is this the way I would want to be treated, or am I working the reverse of the rule?

According to this verse, the right thing to do is forgive her and give her another chance. I would want another chance if I messed up this bad! I have been in sales for over 30 years and know what it is to make mistakes and be given another chance. To be honest, it’s rare. But it’s the right thing to do. Remember our lesson on forgiveness? That applies so strongly in this verse. I would want to be forgiven my negligence. I should certainly forgive hers.

Then there is revenge. Christians should never take revenge into their own hands, but so often we want it so badly that we forget God told us vengeance was His, He would repay (Deuteronomy 32:3). We forget that God says to not avenge ourselves but leave room for God’s wrath (Romans 12:19). We want an immediate judgment! We want that matter settled now, and we will do it ourselves. After all, we are the ones who were wronged!

I can’t say I can give a good example of this one right off the top of my head, but you can all relate, I am sure. Someone does something bad to us, so we repay by doing something bad back. Or someone says something hurtful and we fire right back. My wife and I used to get into some of those types of arguments and no one ever wins. One party or the other gets deeply hurt and in our case it was always my wife. I can’t tell you how many times I fired back some off the cuff remark that I did not intend to say because she stirred my pot a bit. I’ve become a lot better at avoiding this, but it still creeps up every so often. I just don’t want to hurt her with my words anymore, so I am so careful. Revenge is never a good thing when we take it into our own hands. My wife always says “They will reap what they sow” and this is so true!

The last thing that I will mention is pride, I know I mention this a lot, but it is the major fault that keeps us going against the principles of God. Pride will want to make us stay on top, stay ahead, get even, get revenge and get our way. Pride will keep us from yielding to someone else’s need or to acknowledge someone made a mistake. Pride will keep us from forgiving someone and give them another chance. Pride needs to go and humility needs to rule and reign in our lives.

One last thought on this verse. Have you ever thought about the fact that you can take this verse and turn it a little around to show how powerful it really is? Do you realize that when you are gossiping about your neighbor, you are saying in effect it is alright if they gossip about you, according to this rule? After all, whatever I want done for me, I do for them, right? If I don’t give them a ride when they need one, I am telling them they don’t need to give me a ride when I need one, right? If I don’t help them, I don’t expect they should help me! What we do for or to others is what we want done for or to us is another way of looking at this verse.

Do you want others to take revenge on you? Take revenge on them! Do you want others to not help you out? Don’t help them out! Do you want others to put you down behind your back? Put them down behind their back! Do you want others to steal your joy? Steal their joy! Do you want others to be angry with you? Be angry with them!

Or, Do you want others to forgive you? Forgive them! Do you want others to be at peace with you? Be at peace with them! Do you want others to speak gently to you? Speak gently to them! Do you want others to help you? Help them! Do you want others to love you? Love them! Love them even if they don’t love you back. Forgive them even if they don’t forgive you back. Be at peace with them even if that peace is not returned.

Do to them as you want them to do to you. So simple, yet so profound!

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Pearls & Swine

Matthew 7:6

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

The placement of this verse has always baffled me. Right after Jesus admonishes the people not to judge others and not to concentrate on the faults of others He proceeds to tell them that they need to be able to discern who the dogs and swine are. It’s really quite an extraordinary verse that I must admit I need an extra helping of the Holy Spirit to put this teaching into my own words.

While Jesus is not talking about actual food or pearls given to these animals. He uses “that which is holy” and “pearls” to signify the things of God. They are holy and precious as pearls or even gold for that matter. After describing the beauty of the Lords statutes in Psalm 19, David writes His laws are more to be desired than fine gold in verse 10. These precious things of the Lord are for His saints, for His children. They are not for the “dogs and swine”

The question has to be on our minds of who Jesus is talking about when He says dogs. The first thing that comes to my mind is that dogs are scavengers and will take anything you give them. They just sit at your feet and wait for something to drop. I have learned a lot about persistent prayer by watching my dog’s persistence and hopefulness that I will drop something when working in the kitchen. He will be thrilled with any small dropping that I might leave there on the floor. These were the words of the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus in Matthew 15:21-28. Jesus told her that He was sent to the lost people of Israel and said the things of God are not for the dogs. When the Canaanite women told Him that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Masters table, Jesus looked at her and told her she had great faith, and He granted her request. We can learn a lot about the first part of this verse from that exchange.

Jesus called this woman a dog because she was not an Israelite. She was not a child of Abraham and those are the ones Jesus was sent for. The Canaanites were believers in many Gods (Wikipedia lists over 20 gods they worshiped). The one true God was a heresy to them and they scoffed at the idea. They lived in the land that Israel came in and conquered when they came out of Egypt. Therefor God told them to destroy all the Canaanites, but Israel did not do that. The Canaanites remained in the land and were a thorn in the flesh for Israel for centuries.

So this women was indeed a heretic. The description of her as a dog shows us that Jesus does not want to give the precious word of God to someone who is defiant against the gospel message. He does not want the Light that He is offering to go to some one who will merely scoff at it and rebuke Him for His beliefs. While it is true that He gave the word to the Pharisees who also mocked Him, they were of the tribe of Israel. They were the sons of Abraham.

The lesson for us about not giving holy things to the dogs is that we should not waste our time to bring the gospel to someone who is obviously hostile toward the words we will share. With this type of person we need to befriend them and let the light that is within us show through in our lifestyle. Giving them the gospel straight up will not do any good. Becoming a part of their life and allowing them to see the joy and peace that Christ puts in our lives may!

Then there is the part about casting our pearls before swine. Remember that pigs were unclean to Israelites. They stayed away from swine completely. They did not eat the meat (No bacon!!!), nor did they raise pigs. The looked on swine as the lowest of the low. Swine love mud holes. They love to wallow in them. In hot weather a pig will cover himself with mud to keep cool. They are dirty animals. If you would cast a pearl in front of a swine he would just push it down in the dirt and not understand it’s worth. That pearl, that seed is worthless to them.

In Matthew 13:45-46 Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great price that a merchant will sell everything to get. Why? Because the kingdom, like the pearl, comes to us through agony and pain from the one providing it. The oyster that produces the pearl dies while forming that pearl. Jesus died to bring the kingdom of heaven to us. The gospel is of great value!

What Jesus is saying is that we should refrain from giving the precious gospel to someone we know will just yell and scream at us for the words we say, We should not give it to someone who is obviously dead set against it. Dropping seeds is one thing. Presenting the gospel is another. We must plant seeds in people’s lives, but the best seeds are sown by our lifestyle not our words. The seeds of our lifestyles cannot be ignored while the words of our lips will not only be ignored but we will be ridiculed for them. These pigs are beyond listening to what God has to say.

Again, some are called to take the gospel to people who will mock them, ridicule them, and kill them for the words they speak. These are selected vessels that God will lead in their witness. They have given all for the gospel and are willing to lose their lives if need be. If you are called to such a mission field, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. Your task is monumental.

We all have an obligation to share the gospel if we are followers of Christ. We are to sow seed wherever we go. Some will fall on hard ground, some on rocky ground, some on weed-filled ground and some on fertile ground that will produce fruit. Most of the time we do not know where a person is on the ground spectrum. We just share what God puts in our heart. But if we know that they fall under the category of dog or swine, we must tread carefully and listen to the words of Jesus in this verse. Save that seed for someone who will benefit from it, and try to befriend the dog or the swine. That’s the way we will win them!

This is the Day

In our church we often sing a chorus that goes like this:

This is the day.  This is the day.
That the Lord has made.  That the Lord has made.
I will rejoice.  I will rejoice.
And be glad in it.  And be glad in it
This is the day that the Lord has made
I will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day.  This is the day.
That the Lord has made

It’s a joyful song of celebration and thanking God for one more day that He has given us to live in this beautiful world.  We sing it with gladness and excitement for His precious gift of another day.

How much more should we sing such a song on this Christmas Day!  For it was on this day, so many years ago, that God said enough to sin.  he said enough to our shame.  he said enough to our guilt.  He said enough to our disobedience.  He said enough to our sickness and disease.  He said enough to our sorrow and hurt.  He said enough to our misery and hopelessness.  He said enough is enough.

The last time God said enough he sent a flood tom destroy all mankind except a few chosen ones.  That flood covered the whole earth, wiping away the sinfulness of mankind and starting new again.  God sent judgment to a sinful world. That flood was 4,000 years ago.

But this time was different.  This time God sent love.  This time God sent forgiveness.  This time God sent His Son, His only Son, as a  baby in  a manger.  This time the whole world, all of mankind, would have a chance to be saved.  That baby on a manger did not come to be cute, or to be a carpenter for the rest of His life.  He came to die. He came to atone for our sins.   He came to suffer for our disobedience.  He came as a sacrifice on the altar of God.  He came to reconcile you to God.

This Christmas, remember why we give presents and love at this time of year.  We do this because God gave on this day, 2,000 years ago.  He gave us life!

 

Marry Christmas!

 

Go Tell it on the Mountain

Shout it from the rooftops
Declare the joyous news
Christ is born this day
Christ is come this day

Let the mountains ring
Let the trees proclaim
Lift your voice in praise
Lift your hands in praise

Jesus Christ has come
A baby in the hay
Come to save the world
Come to save us from our sin

Rejoice with ardent praise
Lift up your voice
Tell the world He’s come
Tell the world He saves

A Baby Changes Everything

My oldest daughter had a troubled life in her late teens and early twenties.  She dropped out of high school in her Junior year and ran wild for several years.  Kind of like her dad a=had done minus the dropping out.  We were at our wits end on what to do with her, so we just decided to love her and pray for her.,  It was all we could do.

One afternoon I was lounging out on our deck and she came to visit.  She looked scared and tired.  She walked up to me and told me she was pregnant, not married.  She said she would keep the child as she was dead set against abortion.  I rose to my feet, hugged her and told her we were here for her, whatever she needed.

That baby changed her whole life.  She eventually got her GED, college diploma and now has 2 masters degrees in accounting.  She has a wonderful job and that little baby is now going on 17,  She will graduate early from high school and has her eyes set on college.  She is quite amazing.,  Last year, that young girl cut off all her hair to donate it to charity, something a teenage girls just does not do.  We are so proud of her and her Mom.

Two thousand years ago, a baby came into the world that changed everything.  His life, death and resurrection is one of the most recorded facts in all of history.  He was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet he came as a babe in a manger.  The world would never be the same.

What Child is This?

No room in the inn
Born in a stable
Laid in a manger
In Bethlehem

Asleep on the hay
A bright star above
Shepherds bow in praise
In Bethlehem

Oh Bethlehem
Little Bethlehem
Who is this child
That is born this day

Little Bethlehem
Birthplace of a King
Coming as a child
Oh glorious day

Mary Did You Know

Mary knew a lot about the child she was carrying.  I am sure it was very difficult to keep it all inside while she was pregnant.  The angel told her it would be God’s child, conceived by the Holy Ghost.  She was told He would be great, a king over the house of David forever.  She was told He would be the Son of God.  She knew the child she was carrying was someone very special.  Even when the shepherds came, she held h=these things in her heart.

But she had no idea the impact of His life.  She had no idea He would heal the sick, cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, the dumb to speak and the deaf to hear.  She had no idea he would walk on water, calm the sea, raise the dead or heal the leper.  She had no idea he would confound the wise, perplex the scholars and lash out at the religious leaders.  She had no idea He would be condemned to death, crucified and raise again from the dead.  She had no idea he would save all mankind from their sin.