What was the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?
What was the nicest thing you have ever done for someone else?
Are we treating others as we would like to be treated?
If we answer these questions we are likely to jump immediately to examples of ‘random acts of kindness’ which we have given or received. There are a million examples such as:
- a smile on a rainy day,
- a free cup of coffee bought for a stranger
- shoveling a neighbors driveway after a snowstorm
These are GREAT! And we should always be doing them… but they are NOT the Golden Rule as it comes to us in the Bible… the Golden Rule is much much more. It comes from Deuteronomy 10: 17-19: For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
In other words, we are to love and care for people in need around us because God has loved and cared for us. It’s the ultimate ‘pay it forward’. Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 7:12: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
While cute and impactful ‘random acts of kindness’ might put a smile on our face and other faces, rarely are these acts deep and enduring enough to be considered true love and care for others in need:
- Opening our home, or committing (for as long as it takes) to help a homeless person find a home to stay out of the rain.
- Committing (for as long as it takes) to help a jobless person find work so they can buy a cup of coffee for themselves.
- Committing (for as long as it takes) to help an elderly or disabled neighbor live independently in their home (of which shoveling the driveway is just one thing of many)
Let’s turn ‘random acts of kindness’ into ‘paying it forward’ from God. If God has done much for you… do much for others! This is the deeper meaning of the Golden Rule. We would surely have these loving caring things done for us if we needed them.
In Chapter 8 of Right Here Right Now by Lance Ford and Alan Hirsch, they discuss the meaning of ‘hospitality’. Their challenge for us is to realize that the word means so much more than our common understanding of hosting a meal and good conversation or being smiley and friendly to guests, etc. Hospitality requires risk, sacrifice, and vulnerability.
We, very literally, share our lives and space and time and resources with others who are in need. We give of ourselves in love and care… and that is always a sacrifice, but it is also bound to change things for the better!