7 “Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door is opened. 9 Who among you will give your children a stone when they ask for bread? 10 Or give them a snake when they ask for fish? 11 If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. 12 Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets.
In yesterday’s devotional, I wrote about the Golden Rule and how its origins take us back to Jesus’ words and to laws from the book of Leviticus. While there is much to unpack today, I want to start with this verse: Matthew 7:12. Jesus’ words remind us that if we want support, kindness, and ultimately love from others, then we must “treat people the same way” that we want to be treated.
Wait, Jesus, doesn’t that sound a little like we are expecting an even exchange or just a tit-for-tat? Perhaps there is another way to understand these instructions. Maybe the reason that Jesus taught this way is because, as humans, we would understand this way!
We are all too often scorekeepers. We crave even handed treatment: we want to be paid for all of our deeds; we want anyone who is harmed to always receive compensation; and we surely expect the evildoers to be punished by God.
And yet, as humans, we are very fickle beings. Sometimes we have an overly cruel eye toward others in the world and fail to offer people the benefit of the doubt. We want justice, except when we are busy rationalizing our own meanness towards others.
It is fortunate that God’s love for us does not work to even the score. When we hear that we just need “to ask” in order to receive; “to seek” in order to find, we are relieved. God’s joy is to offer us love, forgiveness, and salvation without any conditions, just as parents love their children. Our joy is in loving without keeping score, just the way that God loves us.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
During this year, how have you experienced unconditional love? How have you practiced the Golden Rule? Share with a friend or loved one about how you have both received and witnessed to God’s love in the world.
Prayer: For health and food and loving care, for friends and blessings everywhere, dear Gracious God we thank thee – now and every hour. Amen.