Summary: Christians are called to treat others as we want to be treated
Have you ever wondered how we are supposed to treat one another? Every day we see people behaving in ways that is nothing short of deplorable. You know exactly the kind of person that I am talking about. They seem to go out of their way to cause problems. They like to pour out insults and stick you with verbal barbs that hurt just like a punch to the gut. You know what I am talking about because maybe you have to deal with these kinds of people at work, on volunteer boards or committees, in your neighborhood or even within your own family.
We all know that this kind of behavior is wrong and that we simply don’t like these kind of people. At least, we don’t like their behavior or actions. All of this brings up some fairly serious notions on what is the right way and the wrong way to treat other people. Is there some sort of special code that we should follow in our dealings with others?
It might surprise you, but there is a great deal about interpersonal relationships in the New Testament. Specifically, we see an incredible amount of interpersonal interaction throughout the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The majority of these interactions involve in some way, the life and lifestyle of Jesus.
Jesus was very specific in the way that He expected His followers to treat other people. Here is what Matthew records in the seventh chapter of his gospel.
7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
We learn a couple of very important truths here. I want to examine them each, one by one.
We are meant to have a relationship with God
Our relationships with others are directly tied to our relationship with God. If our relationship with God is not right, none of our other relationships will be right either. Can we honestly expect anything to be right in our lives relationally, if our most important relationship has been neglected?
We were made to have a relationship with God and when that aspect of our lives is missing, we suffer for it. There are so many things that people try to replace that spiritual relationship with. Here are just a few examples: sex, drugs, material possessions, work or volunteer work and personal relationships. In the end, none of these things can satisfy the deepest needs of the human heart. Nothing fills the God shaped void of life, except for God. One thing that Jesus makes clear here is that God is always ready, willing and able to fill that void. He is just waiting for us to make the first move back to Him. When we ask we will receive, when we seek we find and when we knock we find an entrance. Make no mistake, God can bring more fulfillment to your life than anything else ever can.
We are meant to act in an appropriate manner in our relationships
How many times have you seen or experienced yourself, low behavior from other people. As a pastor, I have seen it more times than I care to admit within the church. Jesus told the disciples that they would be known to the world by their love for one another. I have said many times that the church that loves one another, can get through anything. Our relationships and the fabric of our lives begin to unravel the moment we lose sight of the importance of love.
When we genuinely love other people, there is a fundamental change in personal conduct and the manner which we treat others. How can we honestly say that we love God and treat others badly. We simply cannot, John went as far as to say, if we do not love others and treat others right, we do not have the love of God within us. We are to treat others with respect and courtesy, especially when we don’t feel like it.
We are meant to treat others the way we would want to be treated
This sounds simplistic and in reality it is. Jesus gives us the Golden Rule for living life. Do to others as you would have them do to you. What does this really mean? It means that if you don’t like to be treated unfairly, don’t treat those around you unfairly. If you don’t want to be yelled at, don’t yell at others. If you want to be treated with respect, then show respect to others. We need to treat others the way we would want them to treat us.