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Posts Tagged ‘#goldenrule’

I am an if-then person. It is most encouraging, even comforting to me to know the effects or consequences of my actions. In my perfect world if I spend time making a good meal – it will taste well, if I am kind to others – they will be kind to me, if I eat a salad – I will awaken the next day having lost ten pounds (sigh).

As I was reading in Philippians (2:1-4), the other day, I was excited to discover an if-then statement (until I realized that I am the conditional part of this equation) :

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

  • if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ
  • if any comfort from his love
  • if any common sharing in the Spirit
  • if any tenderness and compassion

Four ifs!

Lets take a look at them!

if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ
Encouragement from being united with Christ? Heck ya! I’ll be totally honest, I cannot imagine a life without the encouragement that Christ brings to daily life.

if any comfort from his love
His love is the ultimate comfort. Because of his love I can face any future, for he is the comforter of our souls.

if any common sharing in the Spirit
I am never alone, for the Spirit of God lives within me. He is my eternal helper, as Jesus declared in John 14:16.

if any tenderness and compassion
Have we any tenderness and compassion? Have we received these from the Creator of all? Have we been given compassion, albeit undeserved? But of course, yes to all!

then

Here’s where the rubber meets the road! This is the consequence part, this is where we are responsible for something, because of what we have received.

then …

“make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others

One could re-word all of this within the idea of the Golden Rule …

do to and for others, what I have done and for you.

This is not a suggestion, folks, but an expectation of those of us who claim the name of Christ as ours.

Love and humility … these are the gifts given to us, these are the mode of how we have been treated (undeservedly) by the God of all humanity. These are the expected byproducts of our receipt of his redemption, of his compassion, of his help.

May we honor Him as we strive to follow his example.

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“If you want to change the behavior of a student, you must first convince them, real or perceived, that you like them”

Those were the best words of advice I ever received as an educational assistant … and I have found them to be true!

No amount of negative reinforcement, tokens, nagging, consistent messaging, interruptions, trips to the principal, calls home, withdrawal of personal attention, privileges, or possessions has had a more substantive beneficial effect in working with students than this intentional expression of unconditional appreciation for them.

Effective? … yes!
Guaranteed desired results? … no …

Since I am human, since the students are human … well, we have this ‘benefit’ of free will and we just don’t always choose to say, and do, and think rightly. So, guaranteed positive results … nope, but it’s pretty effective.

The other thing is that the advice needs an edit, because liking people is hard. Sometimes liking is even humanly impossible. So, I prefer the quote to be edited by substituting ‘like’ for ‘love’.

“If you want to change the behavior of a student, you must first convince them, real or perceived, that you love them”

Some might say, well if liking is hard, loving would be even difficult … true … and not.

When I say you need to convince someone that you love them, I don’t mean with my or our capacity to love, because that is just not enough. I mean with the love that is only present because the Spirit of God is within me.

Last week I was reading a sermon of Martin Luther King Jr., which he preached in 1957, at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, titled, Loving Your Enemies. In it he said something about this act of loving that got my attention :

Agape (love) is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of humans. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love humans, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them.

MLK Jr.

To love someone … a student, a child, a parent, a sibling, a wife, a husband, a neighbor … with the unconditional love of God is to open the door to the amazing, redemptive work of God in that relationship. It is to prepare the way for changes, for miracles.

Sometimes the miracles happen in the one to whom I am making effort to offering the love of God, but always, always the changes, the miracles happen in me. I cannot offer hate, I cannot think ill of, I cannot be disinterested in someone who I am loving through the spirit of God.

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So, the Wonderdog … he’s so freaking cute! He has this look like he is always ready to play.

At the end of the work day … that’s when I really feel loved.

Hubby says that each day the Wonderdog is on high alert as soon as he hears the garage door open. He sits, staring at the door, ears perked, for me to open it and walk into the house. Then his excitement explodes as he jumps and runs around waiting for me to pat his head and take him for his outside afternoon ablutions.

Dogs teach us about unconditional love, adoration, forgiveness and never hold a grudge. They are the model of how to love.

There is nothing better than being loved by a dog!

As a matter of fact, I would hasten a guess that everyone who has ever been adored by a dog has thought to themselves at least once, why can’t people love like?

Here’s the thing …

We humans do not love like dogs. We don’t act like dogs (and this is not a positive statement!).

We humans are selfish. Forgiveness is not something that comes natural. Humans are all about what have you done for me lately?

Basically, we are like cats … who ignore, demand, bully and abuse. In our selfish, arrogant cat-like selves, we think, that we show love to others as a dog shows love … but we don’t.

we all want to be loved as a dog loves,
but humans love more like cats!

Added to that … we ignore, demand, bully, abuse and cancel from our lives people who treat us in a cat-like manner.

Awhile back I had a little self check, on just how like a cat I am in my expectations in relationships with other people.

I was angry … like, so angry I could spit (my grandmother’s most extreme definition of anger). Someone had said things that made me mad. They had also not said things, and that made me mad. They had done things (and not done things) that made me mad … mad enough to spit!

Actually, I was mad enough to split … I had reached the end of my patience with this individual and I just wanted to get some permanent space from them …

because I didn’t deserve to be treated like that!

Then I came home one day, to the Wonderdog, who lavished his regular excitement and adoration on me. As I played with him, I thought about how distracted I had been lately. I hadn’t taken him for a walk, hadn’t had our regular end of day snuggles. Basically, I kept him alive, but didn’t provide much else.

Then I thought about the human relationship … the one I was ready to cancel. This time, I thought about times when I was the one who was saying (or not saying) and doing (or not doing) things that made the other person mad. They didn’t cancel our relationship, they persevered, stuck their feet deep into my dung heap and waited for better days. Oh, they might have hissed a time or two (like a cat), but they stayed with me through the storm (that I, no doubt, had contributed to creating).

How could I ever expect to be given the grace of a dog-like love if I am not prepared to love others through their cat-like tendencies?

There is this verse in the Bible (and in the texts of many other religions around the world) … a motto, a maxim for life that is pure gold :

Do to others
what you want them to do to you.


Matthew 7:12

It is such a simple rule for life, until you try to live it. Easier to expect it from others than to accomplish for others. Yet … if we could adopt this golden rule into our lives, what a difference we might experience. Imagine how others might see us, how they might see our God.

So, that’s it folks,

give love to others
with the dog-like love that you want to receive.

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matthew

There is a trend in our society, that has been making me wonder lately.

The trend is all of the respect yourself advice. Let me give you a couple of examples:

“respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy”

“respect yourself enough to say “I deserve peace” and walk away from people or things that prevent you from attaining it”

Basically, the messages tend to be (my words) “if I am not getting what I want from you, I will erase you from my life”

Every time I read one of these (faux) pearls of wisdom, my mind goes to situations, seasons and people who stuck with me when I was that person.

that person who was selfish

that person who treated another poorly

that person who didn’t make the effort to call, email or contact

that person who took more than they gave

that person who should have been walked away from

You see, we are all that person at times. We all have seasons of selfishness, distraction, ignorance, and pride. We all have been mean, unthinking and unappreciative.

I am not saying we should be a doormat or allow ourselves to be abused … no way. What I am saying is that, maybe, the loudest message today is we deserve only good from others.

The further I go in my life, the more I look back at the ways my grandparents did life.

I remember times when a certain neighbour, fellow church member or relative would do or say something disrespectful to my grandmother. She would shake her head … and move on with her day. The next time she would see them, she approached them with the grace of a blank slate … and usually that was the end of the situation.

You see she respected herself enough to not dwell on those incidents. She also understood the wisdom of the ages, the golden rule of life, that you treat others as you would like them to treat you.

And, at least in my life, I am so thankful for those who treated me with such grace as to treat me as they would desire for me to treat them.

 

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It is said that if you make something personal, actually place yourself within it, that thing will have more relevance for you.

“O Canada!

My home and native land!

True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts I see thee rise,

The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,

O Canada, I stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!

O Canada, I stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, I stand on guard for thee.”

I love to sing O Canada, and singing it, among hundreds or thousands of others is just the best. Some of my favorite memories from living in Canada’s national capital of Ottawa, Ontario, are times of singing our nations anthem at Parliament Hill, among the throngs of others proud to be Canadian.

Canada is my home, by birth, and I take seriously the rights and responsibilities that come from such a birthright.

That is correct, rights and responsibilities, not rest and relaxation (in case that is how you interpreted R&R).

To live in this country of Canada is to be blessed with amazing rights and freedoms, many of which are reminiscent of the Magna Carta (MC) of 1215 (England).

The Rights:

  • free speech (MC)
  • voting
  • move throughout the country
  • equal treatment under the law
  • language (French or English federally)

The fundamental freedoms (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms):

  • conscience and religion (MC)
  • thought, belief, expression (including freedom of the press) (MC)
  • peaceful assembly (MC)
  • freedom of association (MC)

These rights and freedoms make Canada what she is, but not without responsibilities as well.

And what are our responsibilities, as Canadian citizens?

According to the government of Canada, these are:

  • to obey the law
  • to take responsibility for yourself and your family
  • to serve as jury
  • to vote
  • to help others in your community
  • to protect our heritage and environment

These responsibilities are extremely important, if we are to fully know and experience our rights and freedoms. To these responsibilities, I would add one more. This one gives feet to all other responsibilities.

“do to others as you would have them do to you
Luke 6:31

It is said that if you make something personal, actually place yourself within it, that thing will have more relevance for you.



 

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We are just a day, just hours really, away from the end of 2014. Whatever our experience of 2014, these final moments of this year seem to bring us to a state of reflection.

I cannot speak for everyone, but I certainly do not entertain this year end reflection with enough seriousness. Perhaps that oft quoted statement “those of us who ignore history, are doomed to repeat it,” ought to be inscribed in our inner eyelids. History, either that of our world, or that of our individual lives, causes us to naturally run away, or re-live it, but, if we reflect on our days, perhaps there might be a third response …

learn from it.

As we sit on the cusp of the change from the past to a new year, the time is right to take a few minutes and reflect.

People

We do not live our lives independent of others, but with our lives intertwined with others around us, whether connected by birth, marriage, jobs, or buying our groceries. As we reflect on those relationships, whether intimate, or more superficial, are there areas which need more attention? Are there too many memories of harsh words spoken? Are there things that have not been spoken, because of fear? Do we come to the end of this year, having said all that needed to be said, having listened to what needed to be heard, and having kept quiet when to be gracious was of more value than to be right? We have all failed the people around us, and they have failed us.

Perhaps if we could live the Golden Rule, to treat others as we would desire they treat us, this coming new year …

Environment

We live, not only with people, but also with a world that we are Biblically (Genesis 1:26-30) responsible to care for. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that there is anything that we mere mortals can do to increase and alter the number of days that the Earth will exist, but I do believe that if God, himself, has given the care of the Earth and everything on it, then we need to do all that we can to care for the soil, the water, the air, and all that grows because of these.

Perhaps if we could treat the things in our lives as the gifts, from God, that they are …

Activities

Our time gets divided up by so many worthwhile, and worthless activities … and there is time and place for both. For some a game of hockey, and for others a game of solitaire are ways of spending a quiet evening. For some volunteering on a church committee, and for others checking in on an elderly neighbor are ways of giving to others. For some giving tax deductible gifts of money, and for others random acts of kindness are ways of sharing what we have. Whatever activities we fill our days with, it would be good to remember the words of Socrates, “beware of the barrenness of a busy life.”

Perhaps if we could treat the time we have as the gifts, from God, that it is …

Creator

Who is the Creator to you, to me? It has been said that to know where your heart is, look to where you spend your money, or your time, or where your thoughts rest. So many of us say that God is number one in our life, but would our wallets, our time spent and our thoughts show that to be true?

Perhaps if we could treat our relationship with our Redeemer, as He has treated us …

Perhaps, as we reflect on the year that is almost completed, as we investigate our actions and attitudes, we could all learn to treat all that has been given to us with an attitude of thanks, of respect and of honor. Perhaps then we would have learned from our mistakes, rather than running from or repeating them.

 

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