Matthew 7:12 – YOU OWE ME! or STOP FOLLOWING ME!
I was looking at Instagram photographs recently. On the most popular photographs, so many people made comments such as “I will like you 5 times if you like me”. It was as blatant as that (and as pathetic). They scream “Make me popular, too!” I will follow your blog so that you will follow mine! You may feel OBLIGATED because I have shown interest in your blog, but you have no way of knowing what my motivation might be. How many people want followers due to their low self-esteem or competitiveness. I recently saw a sign which said “Don’t follow me! I’m lost too!”
There’s a shop on the corner of OBLIGATION STREET and RECIPROCITY. It advertises free tickets, scratch-its, gifts, invitations, free samples, biros, key-rings, 2 for one. All designed to make me feel OBLIGATED to give or buy or comply or compromise in some way when I may not really be interested in doing so. Mafia-like, our society is built on such laws of OBLIGATION. A young man buys a girl dinner, an expensive gift and a concert ticket. Later, she is made to feel obligated to sleep with him in return. After all, he has been so nice. The LAW OF RECIPROCITY at it’s ugly best. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. You OWE me! “I owe, I owe… until beserk I go!”
We are all controlled by this rule in some way. It’s influence is all pervasive, an invisible net that is all-encompassing and we feel trapped. We do not always want to comply, but we are often caught up in it’s web, where we feel that defiance of it’s authority is useless. We succumb to it’s embrace in all kinds of situations. It is a law that governs our responses and we feel helpless to resist. We feel compelled to obey because it seems like we OWE it to others.
Jesus writes a great one sentence blog that calls me to BREAK FREE from the Law of Reciprocity and it’s manipulating grip (He is well worth following). He says in Matthew 7:12 (NLT) “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you …” The GOLDEN RULE vs RECIPROCITY. At first they look the same but they are not? Don’t be fooled!
The “GOLDEN RULE” by-passes obligation and self interest. It is NOT about treating others according to HOW THEY TREAT ME or how I EXPECT them to treat me, or to treat them so they will OWE ME something, but it is treating others how I would LIKE to be treated WHETHER THEY TREAT ME THAT WAY OR NOT! Unless you have a deathwish or want to do self harm this one sentence statement has world changing implications. The “GOLDEN RULE” cuts right across the LAW OF RECIPROCITY.
The “GOLDEN RULE” is NOT simply exchanging things with others for MUTUAL BENEFIT. It involves giving WITHOUT the expectation that I will receive anything back! It involves generosity without it merely being a tax break!
Neither is it about EARNING POINTS with God on earth so that He is obligated to get me into heaven. The Bible invites me to believe in what Christ has ALREADY DONE for me on the Cross when He died for my sins. Heaven is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9) not something I can earn. The Golden Rule far surpasses the law of Reciprocity and what I think I OWE. It goes the extra mile. It shows UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
It is NOT just loving those who are lovely, or for that matter getting revenge on those who treat me badly. It is about undeserved love. The “GOLDEN RULE” is NOT simply putting myself in someone elses shoes, thinking as someone else would think, but it is asking for God’s thoughts to pervade my thinking so that I see others the way He sees them.
The “GOLDEN RULE” is based on the “GREAT COMMANDMENT”. The invitation is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love others unconditionally as Christ did. The GOLDEN RULE is genuine, not the FOOLS GOLD of RECIPROCATION that will inevitably leave you bankrupt.
The “GOLDEN RULE” cuts me off from my selfishness and manipulation, of expecting others to feather my nest, and invites me to give generously, love unconditionally, and allow Christ to change my motivations completely. Jesus Christ alone shows me what it looks like to live a life of unconditional love and not be bound by obligation. The invitation is to Exchange RECIPROCATION for UNCONDITIONAL LOVE by responding to Christ today. A sign I read recently said “STOP FOLLOWING ME! FOLLOW JESUS!”
PS If this blog has helped you in any way to apply the life-changing truths of the Bible, please feel free to pass it on to others or make a comment or follow me (Well, not me exactly, but … you know what I mean. No obligation).