Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Kind and Ungrateful

Sometimes I wander around, going through my day, just wishing common sense on other people. Through my own philosophy of life, it just seems reasonable to treat one another fairly... to be considerate... to treat others the way I would like to be treated and so on. And quite honestly, it drives me crazy when others don't seem to do the same.

Maybe we're just a selfish lot - so focused on taking care of ourselves that treating others fairly goes out the window. Or maybe we just live in a world of senseless people. But then of course, I'm not really sure how much sense I've got. As easy as it is to question others, I question myself all the time.

And then there's this new thought: What if my idea of fair isn't quite the same as someone else's?

That one will keep you busy for days... trying to decide who's version is MORE fair.

But today, I really got to thinking about something that God's been teaching me for the last few years, and I really want others to hear this.

For myself, when I used to hear the golden rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," I think, in my own mind, I was actually hearing, "do unto others and they'll return the favor." Like the golden rule was some kind of guarantee.

Imagine my surprise and frustration when no matter how many favors I do, or how many smiles I paste on my mouth, people don't always respond accordingly. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't even seem to notice the effort you put out. It's somewhat of a toss up.

To be honest, that sort of thinking developed a kind of "Cinderella complex" in me. I started feeling like I was slaving away for ugly stepsisters. And that's not an ideal place to be. While from the outside looking in, it's easy to romanticize what a humble, servant's heart Cinderella had, if you take her place... just you go ahead and try not to feel bitter!

It's an extremely difficult reality to face - that ours is a broken world, where kindness isn't distributed evenly. Not everyone looks after their own messes, and few people will step in to help you when your mess gets overwhelming.

But in the midst of disappointment and hurt, Christ calls us to something bigger.

Do unto others is not a guarantee of reciprocation - it's not actually about other people. Do unto others is a command for me. It's about MY heart and MY behavior. If I start handing out favors, expecting others to be sensible, it's a bitterness trap.

I'm supposed to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (phil. 1:27) whether others are fair to me or not. I'm supposed to go out of my way to be helpful and kind whether or not I get a thank you. It's not about the thank you or keeping a list of who owes ME a favor. Because that's the gospel we've received.  It's a gospel of grace - getting what we don't deserve and haven't earned. We love because he first loved us. That's what sets us as Christians apart and makes us different. It's totally and utterly illogical. No sense at all. But it works. And it's amazing. And humbling.

So when your roommates don't take care of their own dishes, or neglect housekeeping... do it for them, not because you're angry and bitter, but because you love them. Because you can.

When you've spent hours taking care of your friends, but they weren't there to care for you when you needed help, and they call you up one day asking for help... we're called to give anyways.
"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." Luke 6:35 ESV

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