Beware What You Desire
Today’s Gospel begins, “As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6.31) We know this as the Golden Rule, but it isn’t always a good thing. I know that at first this sounds the opposite, but it is true. How we behave to others, whether we want it or not, expresses how we want to be treated. That is, if we believe Christ in today’s Gospel.
I am blessed to hear many confessions from young and old. In these moments I hear all sorts of examples of pain and suffering. Unfortunately, much of the pain is the result of actions or words from other members of our community instead of total strangers. It gives me great pain when I hear such stories, but what really hurts is when I witness people choose resentment over forgiveness. Too often when faced with the chance to forgive, more often than not I hear, “They will get what’s coming one day.”
Today’s Gospel isn’t specifically about forgiveness. In fact it doesn’t even mention forgiveness, but Christ does remind us that we should treat others the way we want to be treated. Would we want others to wish us “get our own” one day, or would we want to be forgiven when we make mistakes? None of us lives a day without at least one mistake, and often many more. Sometimes those mistakes hurt other people,
It is easy to think of the Golden Rule only in positive terms. We treat others with respect hoping they will respect us. We are kind hoping others will be kind. We love hoping to be loved. But, when was the last time we thought of the Golden Rule in terms of, “I refuse to forgive hoping I won’t be forgiven. I am vengeful, hoping to experience revenge?”
The Golden Rule has a good side and a not so good side. When we do good hoping for good, Christ warns, “What credit is that to you?” (Luke 6.33) We should still do good, just without hoping for good in return. (Luke 6.35) The real challenge is to desire what God desires for us. If all we desire is good things for us in return for good, we are no better than sinners.
Being a Christian is much more than being nice to others. More often, it is about not being cruel to others in the face of others being cruel to us. You could call it the Pure Golden Rule.