Devotion for the Week...
Have you ever come across the same verse so many times really close together that you start to think maybe God is trying to get your attention? That has been happening to me lately, with a verse I am sure every one of you has read/heard many, many times. In fact, it's one that most kids learn at school, even if they don't know it comes from the Bible.
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." That's how I learned it and I can't remember a time when I didn't know this phrase. How do you want to be treated? Well, then treat other people that way.
Absolutely! If I've had a good night's sleep and if Nathan has had a good night's sleep and if I'm not hungry and if the kids I'm looking after aren't sick or overtired or fighting over toys and if my own boys aren't arguing and if the neighbor kid isn't calling Nathan names and if my hormones are all on an even keel and if...
Wait, that's an awful lot of ifs. Am I the only one who finds those perfect days when everything goes my way don't exist?
The truth is, treating others the way I want to be treated isn't always easy. Sometimes the kids I look after bring out the worst of my frustration and impatience, especially when we've been dealing with the same thing over and over and over all day. When I'm tired, I'm even more impatient. And when Nathan and I are both tired...well, let's just say that's not a good combination.
I don't want to be treated with impatience. I know no one else wants to be treated that way, either. And yet there are times when I know that I am being anything but patient.
You may say, "No one is patient all the time" or "We all get frustrated sometimes" and you would be right. And yet, the Bible says that we are to treat others the way we want to be treated. And it says 'in everything'. There are no qualifiers there that say this only applies when other people are treating us well, or when toddlers are being properly obedient or when we haven't stayed up too late the night before to finish a good book.
I don't think we should beat ourselves up over not being perfect (because we're not!), but I also don't think we should give ourselves a pass on this one. The truth is, treating everyone the way we want to be treated, all the time, is the goal. It's the standard we should use to measure our behavior. Yes, we'll miss the mark sometimes, but we're guaranteed to miss it even more if we're not even aiming for it.
And while I'm working on this, I'm grateful for a God who doesn't condemn me when I get it wrong, but instead sends me gentle reminders that say, "You can do better."