Forgotten Words of Jesus

As long as I’ve been a Christian, I’ve noted two spiritual pillars that are incredibly difficult to keep in mind. They are all-too easy to forget. One is to rejoice in our suffering. The other is to put ourselves in the shoes of another person whenever we’re dealing on the level of human relationships.

I will confess that I’ve had a hard time remembering these two things. And I’m in need of constant reminding of them.

And so is every other Christian.

So often, you and I are put in situations that involve other people, whether they be Christians or non-Christians. Our spiritual instincts always urge and prompt us to love . . . for God is love. But what does love look like on the ground? And how do we know if we’re really loving others?

I believe it will always look like this . . . “Treat others the way you would want to be treated if you were in their situation.”

In the words of our Lord:

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)

Consequently, if you don’t wish for your motives to be imputed with evil, then don’t impute others with evil motives. If you don’t wish to be judged, then don’t judge others. If you don’t wish to be gossiped about, then don’t gossip about others. If you don’t wish to be personally attacked, then don’t attack others personally.

If you wish for others to give you the benefit of the doubt and think the best of you, then give others the benefit of the doubt and think the best of them. If you wish to be treated with kindness and understanding, then treat others with kindness and understanding. If you wish to be forgiven, then forgive others. If you want others to defend you when you’re under attack, then defend others when they are under attack.

I believe that in whatever situation we find ourselves, if we would simply ask ourselves this question before God . . . “How would I wish to be treated if I were in this situation?” . . . His mind would become quite clear to us.

That simple question would cut down so much of our prayers where we “seek God,” asking, “Lord, how do I deal with such-and-such . . . what’s your mind on this situation which involves so-and-so?”

Now here’s a wild thought. What would happen if beginning today, every Christian on the planet would treat everyone else the way they would want to be treated? What would it do for the church, for the Kingdom of God, for the world, and for those non-Christians who are turned off by Christianity because of how Christians treat one another? (You know, like Gandhi who said: “I would become a Christian if it weren’t for the Christians”).

Consider that for a moment.

Undoubtedly, this won’t happen until Christ sets the world right. But each of us can begin to ask the Lord to make this real in our own lives now . . . today.

Living by Christ . . . living by Divine life . . .  manifests itself in this way: Treating others the way we would want to be treated in every situation. For that is the conduct of Divine life. And the nature of Divine life is love.

Related:

The Most Ignored Sin

Warning: The World is Watching How We Christians Treat One Another

About Frank Viola

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  • http://frankviola.com/ Frank Viola

    Yes, I not only agree, but I’ve spoken much about this very point elsewhere. I’d also add that if it’s the Spirit, it will be in line with love. Treating others the same way you want to be treated in every situation.
    best,

    fv

    Frank Viola * The Deeper Journey * Psalm 115:1

  • Guest

    I have been taught to believe that Holy Spirit can rightly be referred to as the spirit of prophecy. I have also been taught that to rightly discern whether or not Holy Spirit is speaking to me that what is being said must line up with the written Word of God. Would you agree with this?

  • http://www.mycatholicblog.com/ Erin Pascal

    Thank you for sharing this Frank! This is definitely a good reminder for us. Being treated the way you want to be treated and treating others the same way is a good practice that people all around the world should do. Great post!

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  • Frank Viola

    Of course, a genuine follower of Jesus will want to be corrected if they are walking in a way that hurts others or if they’ve accepted an idea that is contrary to Jesus Christ. But *how* one corrects another is of utmost importance and should be governed by the life of Christ (and His word about treating others the same way we want to be treated) rather than by the flesh. See “How (Not) to Correct Another Christian” for details on this point: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/correction/

  • gilles lamoureux

    Fine and dandy. Would I then want to be corrected and live with the consequences of my actions? If so, then I would expect others to want the same. And if they don’t, then they are treating me badly, and are not living by the Golden Rule. Correction and consequences are expected of me and others. It’s far easier to think of the Golden in a positive sense. But treating others as I want to be treated include some discomfort. Kindness, understanding and forgiveness feel rather good, and I think we forget the rule applies also to righteousness, truth and justice.

    gilles

  • Wendi

    Hi Mr. Viola,

    My husband forwarded your blog post this morning to me. It prompted me to a deep level of thinking about kindness and the treatment of others. It hen propelled me to write my own thoughts on my blog. I referenced your blog post through a link, so that others could read what you had written as well. I am cutting and pasting my blog post here, with the intention of exposing the chain of reaction thinking that your thoughts put me through. Thank you for the reminder, and for keep my heart/mind on its ‘toes’ when it comes to thinking about not just what we believe is right, but WHY we think this way. I will apologize for the length in advance :)

    The purpose of my personal blog is not to just repeat other authors’ words. I have no intention of being a ‘pass through blogger’. It is to have a place for my own thoughts and ideas. In this particular case, reading a daily blog devotion from Frank Viola got me thinking. Which spawned thoughts and ideas of my own. So, for today, I will combine the two. Not all of this is related directly back to the article, but more of an off shoot from the article. I did leave a link to the article, so you could read it as well. To see my ‘jumping off point’.

    This article was forwarded to me this morning and it may have had a different impact on my thought processes than was intended by the person who sent it to me. God works in everyone so that what we can hear what WE need to hear, if we are seeking to tune into Him and not just reading the words in passing. In working to understand myself better, I have realized many areas of my spiritual walk that need a lot of work.

    There are many times I find myself in absolute silence; when the kids are in school, or (my husband) has taken over and given me a few minutes to myself. God has given that silence to me recently, so that I could be still, and hear Him. I lost a few ‘things’ along the way, but the trade off is worth it. The silence is a gift, I am sure of it. In the last few weeks with all the business of the holiday season, the kids out of school and at home, and many things on my ‘to do’ list, I have had to give up some of the silence. I struggle to find time to be still. It seems everything that everyone does in this house has to orbit around me (another blog for a another day…).

    Before anyone got up this morning, I read this devotion, and in the silence I came to a ‘squishy’ place in my mindset of how we treat others, and the motivation behind helping others. In other words, a perceived strength in my life needed to be firmed up more than I realized before reading this. Call it an ‘aha moment’ or a ‘God moment’. Today, I have found a spot in my life that is a bit more complete than others, but I still needed something to fine tune it. The intention here is not to merely point out one of my strengths, but rather to show how a strength can have a weakness buried inside of it. Hidden deeply, causing the strength to erode over time.

    I am working on areas that need balance. Balancing time with my ever patient husband with the needs of 5 kids. Balancing the budget, and personal time with each of the kids. I am constantly working to balance my emotions, such as having the right level of emotion to match the event that just occurred. The whole count to 10, bite my tongue thing. I am also working to balance time for myself in an amongst the needs of 6 other family members, friends and family. Balance in giving, so that I do not get overwhelmed and find myself to be of no help to anyone.

    I have found that while I do possess empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another), I find myself having to turn down the sensitivity dial on that emotion at times. This is the hidden weakness within a strength. It is similar to being hyper sensitive to sound, light, touch, etc. I could not put a finger one why an attribute that was instilled in me by God (empathy), would put me so out of kilter (burned out). I am hyper sensitive to others emotions and needs. I want to help, I want to respond how others need me to respond. I am personally devastated when I simply cannot help another person in the capacity that *I* think I should. This hypersensitivity causes me to burn out fast. This leads to me pulling back and trying to put myself back into my own shoes and get upright again.

    I am missing something to help me balance all of this: God and His direction on each situation. I jump and THEN ask what was I supposed to do. Hmmm…. was I supposed to do more, or less? The moment is over, and a do-over is out of the question. I know how I want to be treated, but honestly that isn’t why you treat others well. It is not the purpose of helping others. The return of the treatment is not the goal, and it rarely happens anyway so having that expectation is going to be disappointing. The treatment of others shows our love for others, as we have been loved by Him.

    Why do we call them ‘random acts of kindness’ when they should be a part of our every day life, our every moment, to be kind to others? To show kindness in everything, is not random. I haven’t found in the Bible where God said that our kindness should be random. And of course we never perform a random act of kindness because we want a ‘random act’ passed back to us (right?? right.). Kindness is simply how we are supposed to treat others, in His name, for His glory. Asking God at every turn what His intention for your part is in these situations. ‘Random’ is defined as an adjective, not a verb. Among others, one definition is ‘made, done, happening, or chosen without method or conscious decision’. Another definition is ‘governed by or involving equal chances for each item’. Synonyms are fortuitous – haphazard – accidental – chance – incidental. Why are we doing ‘random’ acts of kindness? Accidental? Without conscious decision? Fortuitous? Equal chances? Uh oh… we need to drop the adjective of ‘random’ from any act of kindness if we are truly living for Him, because He lives IN us. It all reality, and correct me if I am wrong, our ‘random’ acts of kindness, don’t even resemble anything ‘random’ and actually detract from how God defines how we should treat everyone, every day. It subtracts HIM from our treatment and helping of others. That makes it about us. I see a problem here, but I also see an answer.

    First, this is the question: is the intention to help others, or treat them in kindness completely altruistic? Only for God’s glory, or to fill a void in the inner self such as guilt or shame? We can’t JUST treat others like we want to be treated. We have to treat others as God would want THEM to be treated, if it were Him on earth doing the actual deed in person (such as when Jesus was on earth). We must ask for guidance in each situation. We cannot be random, we must be intentional. And our intentions must point to Him, not our need to correct something wrong in our lives. This is the point at which you no longer burnout, or feel overwhelmed in helping others. When we do it for self, our ‘selves’ become exhausted. When we are acting on His direction, our strength is renewed.

    This is the article that started all this thought process.

    Forgotten Words of Jesus (linked)

  • Frank Viola

    Correct. And some have substituted the Spirit with their own misguided emotions. The Scriptures and the Spirit are meant to work together. And neither one will contradict the other. Jesus said to the Sadducees, “you err, not knowing the Scriptures (the Bible) nor the power of God (the Spirit). We need both.

  • Kevin

    Thank you for this reminder, Frank. From my perspective, as one who was raised “in the church;” I think part of our problem is how we have approached the teaching and living out of our faith. I was not taught what it really means to have a relationship with Christ and to be live by the leading of the Holy Spirit. I was taught to live according to the Bible (Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth) and that it was the way to a relationship with God. Now that I’m grown, I wonder; if the Bible doesn’t teach this, so why do we? While the Bible is clearly full of God’s wisdom and is undeniably an important component of our walk with him; I don’t believe God’s intention was ever for us to view it as his instruction manual. Christ said that he was sending the Holy Spirit is to be our guide. Unfortunately, we have essentially substituted the Holy Spirit’s work with trying to follow the Bible. As a result, our efforts to relate to others, especially non-believers, are just that; efforts, or projects. They tend to be very mechanical and forced, rather than natural and free flowing and the world is on to us. Because we have used the Bible as our guidebook, we have never learned to allow Christ to truly live and love through us and have never really really learned to be loved by him. Until we do, we will continue to fail at loving others as Christ loves the church. Just my two cents.

  • http://simplechurch.com.ua Timmy Powers

    Great thoughts. When I read it, I thought about the fact that the new Discover ad campaign that has been playing during the bowl games hearkens to this timeless truth . Their slogan is, “we treat you like you’d treat you.”


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