The verse we are following today is Matthew 7:12:
Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
There are certainly tragic results of mistreatment on both sides: others mistreating me, as well as my mistreatment of others. And that mistreatment affects not only the one being mistreated, but also the one who is causing the mistreatment.
For this post today, I want to write on how others, as well as myself, have been mistreated. I will start with myself. I couldn’t have been more than seven years old, first grade. My dad had helped me make a boat, really an old clipper ship. It was a great project. We carved it out of a four-by-four block of wood, then we gave it three masks made of dowels, we made sails made of white cloth, and then we tied strings all over it—which were to be the ropes holding the sails in place. I was surprised at how good it looked when it was finished. It was the first project I had ever attempted before—even though Dad had done most of it. Nonetheless, I really felt good about it and proud of myself.
But the very next day after it was finished, I discovered that all the strings (the ropes) were cut. Someone had cut all the ships ropes. Who would do such a thing? I was devastated. At the time I didn’t give much thought on who could have done it. Or why. It didn’t matter to me. The only thing that mattered is that my ship was destroyed.
Obviously, whoever did it didn’t stop and think how they would want to be treated and then how they should treat me. They were thinking only of themselves.
Another victim of mistreatment we often think of is the biblical character Joseph. The story is found in Genesis 37:2-36. He was his father’s favorite son, and so he gave him a beautiful coat of many colors. Well, as the story goes, his brothers were extremely jealous of him, and one day they threw him in a pit and left him for dead. How tragic. As we know, God made things work together for good, and Joseph became the great savior of the Jewish nation. But even so, think of all the pain Joseph went through because of those brothers who thought only of themselves.
Another character we could think of is David. He was such a man of God; he had a heart after God’s own heart. Yet think of how he was abused by others. The Psalms are filled with the prayers of David—how he was chased and was fearful of his enemies—those who certainly were not following the Golden Rule.
The ultimate example of mistreatment by others was our Lord Jesus. And we are all guilty. But the Pharisees seemed to be the ones who were after Him the most—to be rid of Him. And Scripture tells us that they handed Him over (to be crucified) “because of envy” (Matt. 27:18). Think of it. Their sin of envy was so strong that it blocked out any thought of how they should treat others.
Of course, they were not believers, and that is the entire problem. The Golden Rule makes no sense to a non-believer. Only true believers will carry it out. And only a true believer can carry it out. If you want to make a huge impact on peoples lives, if you want to really love them as God loves them, give your heart and soul to God and then practice this Golden Rule. I think it is how we can really begin to love others.
This Golden Rule is so simple, yet profound. It is simple because there is only one thing we are required to do—think how I would want to be treated by others and then treat them that way. It is profound because it works. And it starts with us. We start this process of love, and other will pick it up and carry it on.
And when a non-Christian sees how we lovingly treat each other, they will be curious and will want to join us. I think so. I pray so.