Standards; December 30, 2019

Luke 6:31, 36 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

These two verses reference two different standards, one subjective and one absolute. We refer to the first as the Golden Rule, but as I tell couples in marriage counseling, because it is subjective, it can actually be very dangerous, especially between a man and a woman. It is a very common thing for a man to treat a woman as he would like to be treated and get a very bad response, and vice versa. That’s very easily understood when we look at studies that show that, of the 12 universal emotional needs of humans, the ones that come in at 1-6 for men come in at 7-12 for women, and vice versa. Especially husbands and wives need to understand this, and investigate how their partner would like to be treated, rather than making assumptions. Subjectivity isn’t a good foundation for a relationship. On the other hand, God is an absolute, so there is no subjectivity involved in being like Him. However, what a standard! I don’t think it’s physically possible for humans to be as merciful as God, without His direct help. When you look at the context though, that should go without saying. Loving our enemies and doing good to them does NOT come naturally! However, Jesus doesn’t leave us any wiggle room. “Just as” doesn’t allow for any excuses! As Paul said about some people, “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12) We are all guilty of that at times! We need to accept the absolute standard of Jesus Christ and, knowing that we can’t meet that standard on our own, live in grateful dependence on the grace and mercy of God – which of course involves extending that grace and mercy to others.

This is something I thought I knew many years ago, but I keep getting refresher lessons! I find I need help in knowing how people want to be treated, and should ask God about it first. Some people are self-aware enough and open enough to tell you if you ask, but many are not, so checking with those close to them can be helpful. In that, however, I need to keep God’s standard first, because sometimes what God knows we need isn’t what we would choose for ourselves in that moment. Anyone with genuine faith wants God’s will to be done most of all, because they know that is the absolute best, but most people don’t really have that level of faith. That’s where being merciful has to kick in! I am to seek to see myself and see others as God sees us, and speak the truth in love. It can take a lot of love and mercy to confront someone who is headed for destruction.

Father, thank You for this strong reminder. You know better than I do how I have run from confrontation most of my life. Help me love people enough to confront them when You say to do so, but always extend Your mercy and grace to them. May I indeed be “like my Daddy,” for the blessing of all I encounter and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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