There are few things as simple, straightforward, or timeless as the Golden Rule: “So in all things, do to others what you would have them do to you,” (Matthew 7:12a, NIV). Even though Jesus’ words couldn’t be any clearer, the Golden Rule is probably among the most misquoted verses in all of Scripture. Many believe Jesus actually instructed us to “do to others as they do to you” – a vastly different proposition, indeed!
While there are many examples in Scripture of people who faithfully followed the guidance and example of our Savior, there are others who opted for more of a “do to others as they do to you” mentality. Such was the case for Esau, the brother of Jacob. While there’s no question that he did himself no favors with his own unwise decisions, he also suffered much as a result of the deception, lies, and misguided ambitions of his mother and brother (Genesis 25:29-34; Genesis 27:1:41).
Deeply wounded by the betrayal of his family, the Scriptures tell us that Esau held a grudge. With a heart ripe for revenge, he seized an opportunity to retaliate against his parents in a way that was sure to cause them much heartache and pain: “Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there…. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had,” (Genesis 28:6a, 8-9, NIV).
It’s extraordinarily difficult to “do to others what you would have them to do to you” – to love without limits, to extend grace instead of holding a grudge, to seek reconciliation instead of retaliation. Trust me, I know. At times I have hurt others, and at times, others have hurt me. No matter my role in the conflict, there are occasions when I have either struggled or altogether failed to respond with the kindness in keeping with a committed follower of Christ.
The great news is that our Father doesn’t expect you or me to do this in our own strength. Instead He invites us to come to Him, then as our hearts are touched by His grace, He empowers us to extend and receive the same love and forgiveness that He has so freely given to us. Following in the compassionate footsteps of our Savior will take a lot of patience and resolve, but is worth the effort. Walk the path.
Dale Pyne – CEO, Peacemaker Ministries
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