No really...think about it. What is it that you most desire in your lifetime? A better paying job or a fat bank account? A reliable vehicle, or perhaps that really cool motorcycle that you have always dreamed of? Maybe it's a college degree or a masters, or one good hair day. So many, I know, constantly think about losing weight; do you desperately desire that you could fit into those size 8 jeans again? Perhaps, what you truly desire is simply a break from everyone's expectations. Ah, now that hits close to home, doesn't it?
Now, you may be thinking that what you want and how you want to be treated are two different trains of thought, but I disagree. Say you want that good hair day - why? Well, obviously you want to look good. But why? You answer, 'so others will find me appealing, attractive...' Again, I ask why? I would like to suggest that we wish to look appealing or attractive to garner respect and acceptance from others. Think how differently you would react to a nicely dressed man stepping out of his car to hustle to his place of employment vs. the unfortunate homeless man dressed in rags that desperately need cleaning. Which of those would you naturally respect more? I know, my example is extreme, but I hope you get my point. We are judged by our appearance, and we judge others, as well. We all intuitively know that fact and take steps to make some sort of statement with our appearance dependent upon how we want others to respond to us. All that to say what we want materially says something about how we want to be viewed by others, and by extension, how we want to be treated by others.
But, you say, I want to be more noble than that; I just want my children to be happy and healthy. Alright, that is good, but again I ask why? As a parent, I know full well that I am judged by how my children behave and by how they 'turn out'. Oh, I know...no one really wants to admit that, but I find it to be true. As young people, we judge the poor mother in the grocery store struggling with the toddler throwing a temper tantrum, or the family with multiple children going berserk in the restaurant. "When we are parents", we ignorantly say, "we certainly will train our children better than that. My children won't act that way..." And why do we say that? Of course we instinctively know that a child's behavior is a direct reflection of the parent's behavior and parenting technique. OK, so what about the homeschooler who proudly proclaims that their child scored uber-high on college entrance exams? Sure, they are proud of their offspring, but don't you think they are taking some credit for themselves? Of course they...we...are. Because we all want to be respected for what we have endured and accomplished; which ultimately affects how we will be treated and accepted by others.
I have heard it said that it is not thoughts of ambition, acquisition or accomplishment that occupy the last moments of our life, but it is a knowledge that we could have said more, given more...loved more. We regret that we could have been, should have been, more courageous, more honest...more real. In our human selfishness and in our pride, we miss what is most important...but, I digress. Let's get back to the question at hand, shall we?
I'll use myself as an example; what do I want most, or rather, how do I want to be treated by others?
First and foremost, I want to be respected as a fellow human. Basic respect is a good thing.
I want to be listened to.
I want to be loved.
I want to be appreciated.
I want to be cared for.
I want to be wanted and needed.
I want to be valued.
I want to belong.
I want to be accepted.
I want to be given the benefit of the doubt.
I want to be forgiven.
I want to be heard.
I want to be unconditionally loved.
I also want to be viewed a certain way: helpful, cheerful, honest, kind, understanding, loving, trustworthy, gentle, available, witty, smart, crafty, resourceful, compassionate, courageous, righteous...yes, righteous.
I don't think that I'm all that different from anyone one else...do you? I suppose not everyone wants to be witty, and there are some that do not desire to be righteous. But for the most part, I believe people are good and want to do the right thing - doesn't everyone want justice?
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge
against your kinsfolk.
against your kinsfolk.
Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Moses, recording the words of the Almighty Himself, makes it crystal-clear that we need to treat others as we ourselves want to be treated. To do that, don't we need to consider how we would like to be treated?
Moses is not the only one to record the command...
So whatever you wish that others would do to you,
do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
~Yeshua as recorded in Matthew
The Golden Rule, spoken by the mouth of Messiah. But, again, He's not alone in espousing this basic tenet of acceptable human behavior. Many different religions/philosophies strongly encourage their followers to follow this edict, as well. These would include Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Humanism, Islam, Platonism, Taoism, and more. You see, we all want to be treated as if we have value, therefore we must treat others in the same manner.
So, from my list above, I could make a list of how I need to treat my neighbor, my sister, my brother, my spouse, my friend, my children, and every stranger I meet, based on how I want to be treated:
I will respect others, first and foremost.
I will listen to others, for what they have to say is important.
I will show love and respect, because that displays the love of G-d.
I will show appreciation for their uniqueness and special traits.
I will care for others and what happens to them, showing compassion.
I will show others that they are needed and wanted, however I'm able.
I will let others know that I value them as fellow sojourners in this life.
I will show others that they belong, as much as I have opportunity.
I will accept others into my life, as the LORD brings them across my path.
I will think the best about others, always giving them the benefit of the doubt.
I will give forgiveness for sins and hurts against me, for this glorifies the Father.
I will make every effort to hear others, for they deserve to be heard.
I will diligently try, to the best of my ability, to unconditionally love others.
Wow. That's a tough list. The one thing that stands out to me is that I have to put others before myself in conversations, in actions and in everyday life. Can I do that? Is it even possible to shift the focus off myself and onto others?
Yeshua said that loving others is the Torah.
And I am absolutely convinced that the unselfish love that flows from one to another is the manifestation of G-d here on earth.
So, what do you desire? How do you want to be treated?
I challenge you to make a list, and then flip it as I did above. Would your list look different from mine? Are you willing to commit to treating others as you would like to be treated?
I, for one, am willing to give it a shot. Not for the sake of nobility, but for the sake of obedience and honoring the Master. For, if I claim to be a believer in the Most High G-d, I don't see a choice in the matter. But, beware; if you behave in this manner, you will garner hatred and envy, to be sure - there is a high price to be paid for loving others when some choose differently. But, in the end, I have to believe that the reward is so much greater than the cost.
That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.
That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.