“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Silver Rule

Silver Ice
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

The Silver Rule:
"What you do not wish yourself, do not unto others.”~ Confucius

I was at the home of a dear friend the other day.  She is in great pain due to a back injury.  I had called her and asked if I could offer a Starbucks delivery.  After some discussion (was I sure I wanted to come over because her house was a wreck... and she didn't have cash to pay me back...), she agreed.

Within minutes of my arrival (with a skinny venti Chai Tea Latte in hand) ... another of her friends had arrived with a freshly prepared meal for the evening.  As we sat and chatted, my dear friend admitted how difficult it is to accept such acts of generosity.  We started to discuss this in great detail. Why is it so difficult to accept acts of generosity?  Was it upbringing?  Was it pride?  Was it humility?  Or all of the above?

I've been thinking more about our conversation lately.  This dear friend of mine is a servant.  She prepares homemade meals ahead of time once a month (and freezes them) in preparation to take to someone -- she may barely know -- who is in need.  When she receives an abundant supply of anything, she passes on what she cannot use to those in need... wrapped with a bow on top!  She makes herself and her home available to anyone who would stop by... and invites young women from her church to her home to be mentored and discipled.  She is an encourager.  She is full of God-given joy.  She prays and God answers in ways she could never ask or even imagine to ask.  She embraces God and whatever morsel God speaks to her... she presses into those who need to hear... who are desperate to hear about hope and promise and future.

No, she is not a saint.  She will be protesting as she reads this because she knows she is not a saint and readily admits it... actually for the whole world to read.  But she has had a hard life and through that hard life... she has been softened and molded into a servant and follower of Christ.  She seeks to do His will.  To follow the first and greatest commandment...

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and 
with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 
This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38 NIV

And the second greatest commandment...

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:39-40 NIV

Which is also known as The Golden Rule...

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 NIV 

And all of this made me wonder... why would my friend expect anything less than what is given to her?  Those whom she has "done to"... are "doing" back to her.  And so I wonder... would she do less so that she would not receive back in abundance?  Would she love less so that she would not be so loved in return?  No.  Not her.  And so she must subject herself to the reciprocity of her actions.  The problem being... her motives.  She never did any of these things in expectation of her own benefit... and yet by receiving the generosity of others it may nullify her pure motives.  But it doesn't.

And so, we must learn to receive from others.  Graciously.  If the Lord encourages someone to love their neighbor as them self, who are we to deny them of their obedience to the Lord?  We, ourselves, must follow the Golden Rule... and do to others what we would have them do to us.  Lest we settle for second best... and follow the Silver Rule, "What you do not wish yourself, do not unto others.”

It is something I have been mulling over for myself.  Wondering why I do for others... is it in expectation of return?  Is it for the gratitude and recognition I receive?  Does it make me feel like I am more blessed and so I must bless others?  Does it just give me a good feeling each time?  And honestly, sometimes... there is truth to that.  But I feel that in following the Greatest Commandment, I have committed myself to the second greatest commandment... and I end up going for the gold.  And in so doing, encouraging others to do the same.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while 
you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 

These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, 
which perishes even though refined by fire—
may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor 
when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV


Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful reminder for us all. It really touched my heart. Thank you my friend.

Kathi Woodall said...

When Jesus washed the disciples' feet and Peter told Him not to, was that pride or humility? It's a tough question with a tough answer. Humility doesn't deny others the blessing of serving but allows others to serve.

Great post, as usual, Sheri! I enjoyed it.

elizabeth embracing life said...

Wow! I cried reading this.

Krystle said...

Great post.
Great reminder as the birth of our twins is fast approaching and offers from all over to help are pouring in. It's great...but the thought of people seeing me in less than great appearance, and my house in shambles always makes me cringe.
We didn't accept much help after Jack was born, and it was a mistake. I'm determined to let people help...but it is hard. Not for my hubby...I think maybe it's a woman thing? And insecurity and pride are at the root....

Laura said...

This is so beautiful. Our family has experienced exactly what you have shared here during times of need where others have met those needs. And it is difficult sometimes to be on the receiving end. But when we refuse to accept, we deny others the joy that we, ourselves, experience in giving. We need to be both gracious givers and receivers.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Honestly, friend, I have been so lavishly loved in these past five months, I have been overwhelmed with the kindness. OVERWHELMED. It has made me want to be a better giver on all fronts... with my time, talents, service, prayers. From every angle, I want to be a better lover of God's people. That being said, I fall very short of the standard listed in 1 Cor. 13. I continually pray for more of God's love to reside in me so that I might willingly and abundantly reciprocate the love to others.

Gratefully, I have received over these last few months without question. I simply don't want to hold that in selfish reserve when it comes to others. I want to serve all people without condition and with a pure heart. That's my goal going forth in this new season I've been given.

I think you a good servant worthy of much love. I hope you've felt that from me. For the record, anytime you want to run by with a Starbuck's session, I'm game!