Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)
It’s really funny how much we think of ourselves. Even when we’re trying to think of others.
This morning I was thinking of Jesus’ words, “Treat other people the way you want to be treated,” and how often I have misrepresented those, even to myself—even though I don’t mean to misrepresent them.
I think that was part of Jesus’ point.
Think of this: when we really try hard to think of other people and do something for someone else—especially if we are trying—there’s usually something in it for us. We are hoping for some reciprocation, at least in the form of accolades, appreciation, even just a “Thank you” from the recipient of our graciousness.
But this morning I even saw another way that “do unto others” could be originating in my own ego; founded in my own self interest.
As we go through life, gaining experience along the way, our perspective broadens, and little by little things we previously didn’t understand—really, couldn’t understand—are revealed to us. I believe the is the process of gaining wisdom, or becoming wise. (Please note: I am not saying that I am yet wise!)
One particular thing I’ve noticed in my life is that I continue to understand more of my parents’ love for me as I watch my own kids grow up, and I can’t put into words the way I feel about them. When I’m having a moment where I can see beyond me, I realize this must also be how my parents think of me, at least in part.
This morning I thought I’d just give them a call and chat for a bit sometime today… just because. I already do this now and again, because I am thinking of them. I love them. But, this morning, my thought was, “I want to treat my parents the way I hope to be treated by my kids.”
Several things happened here. First, I really was thinking of others (my parents) as I thought of how I was their son, and I was thinking ahead to the relationship I hope I’ll have with my sons and daughters when they are the nearing-forty parents of their own children. It was a genuine moment of seeing a way I could act on a treat-others-the-way-you-want-to-be-treated nudge.
And if I live out this mantra in my own life now, with my parents, then down the road my kids might be inclined to do the same, right?
Then I realized how I was still thinking of myself. Wow!
But maybe that’s why Jesus said it.
Somewhere inside us, God placed this ferocious, tenacious, unyielding self-preservative drive. We are quite good at looking out for Numero Uno. And, knowing us as our Creator does, he asks us to tap into this abundant resource in order to live more fully, while also making the world a much nicer place.
I won’t actually receive any immediate, nor guaranteed future benefit from deciding to treat my parents the way I want to (hope to) be treated by my children. My actions toward them have no bearing on any future actions by others towards me. I think maybe that is how we often misrepresent those words of Jesus to ourselves and others: “Treat other people the way you want to be treated… and then you’ll be treated that way!” Nope. No promise of any sort of recouping that shared niceness. None.
But tapping into our mega-oversized self-interest, Jesus knew we’d get a tiny glimpse of how to treat other people the way he thinks of and cares for each one of us.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG
So go think of yourselves. Maybe the more we do, the better our world will be?
That could probably be misinterpreted, too … 🙂
Now, I have a phone call to make.