Monday, August 25, 2014

The golden rule... FAIL

I recently had to attend another mandatory "forum" or such at work; this one on customer excellence.  

A couple times throughout the speakers we heard the "golden rule" - "do unto others as you want done to you"

I REALLY started to contemplate if I myself embodied this general "rule."  I consider myself, for the most part, to be pleasant, joyful, caring, and kind.
But am I ALWAYS that way? I can honestly say I WANT to genuinely love others with my actions and words.  So why do I struggle with my reactions and attitude? 

During our first break of the morning I opened one of my daily devotion readings to find what?...none other than Matt 7:12: "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets"

The devotion was entitled "What do you wish?"

"What if we enacted the Golden Rule in our churches, neighborhoods, and homes? What if we really and truly treated others the way we wished to be treated? What if we thought more of them than we did ourselves? Wouldn’t it take an earth-shifting change of thought and action?"- She Reads Truth

-Is this easy for us? 
-Do our failures in this area reflect a desire to treat other maliciously? Or a struggle beyond mortal flesh?
-Is the real question about how we respond to others, or how we respond to God?
- What Do we wish?

This is my confession... I most definitely do not always find that loving attitude so easy accessible inside myself. We hear and talk about the temptations and failures of the "big sins," but what about the sin seedlings in our hearts that will eventually take root?  I find the bitterness within me is also often the most damaging! Why? Because it's sneaky. it's quick. it's often disguised. I feel like no matter how hard I "try" I still find myself in the aftermath of the "evil inside me."
Paul said it better than I ever could...

"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Romans 7:14-24

I still remember the first time I read this passage! A few years ago I was crying out to God, apologizing for the filth I felt beyond skin deep.  I was trying to convince Him with my words that it was a struggle I was trapped in, not some conscious attempt to rebel, but something I didn't have the power to fight against. In His always astounding wonder and grace, He simply said "I know," and brought my eyes and heart to the very words He inspired Paul with some 2000 years ago!

And in true Creator & Savior fashion, He didn't just listen, He responded...

"Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death" Romans 7:25-8:2

The She Reads Truth devotion I read that morning addressed the idea that we tend to not love others well, because we love ourselves instead. I think that's true in the sense that we are (possibly even unconsciously) responding to the fleshly calling from with in ourselves rather than the spiritual calling from our Lord.  We haven't yet fully died to ourselves.

It is only by the love of God that we are able to TRULY love anyone else. God isn't giving us a free pass to say "the devil made me do it (or say it)," but He has given us the free gift of grace and forgiveness.  He is giving us the power of Himself to overcome the flesh of sin and death! 

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:6-9

While reading Lysa Terkeurst's book "Unglued" I wrote down this statement from her writing..."Because God made our bodies, and all the emotions, hormones, and chemical responses they contain, His word provides the wisdom on how to manage it all."  I think Philippians 4 is a great place to start; keeping our hearts and minds on all virtue and praise!

For me this isn't a one and done deal.  My flesh struggles daily with the "law of sin," but I choose to battle with my mind on the "law of God." It often comes through a gentle reminder from one of His children, but it's no doubt through the power and grace of God!

"For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:6

This is how we are able to treat others how we wish to be treated, despite none of us deserving it!
Please pray for me as I allow God to mold me.