What Do You Want Men To Do To You?
“What Do You Want Men To Do To You?”
A simplistic, popular, yet oft neglected command is found among Jesus’ teaching on the mountain. “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). How many of us were taught this from our earliest years? “Do unto others what you would have others to do unto you” – a paraphrase of Jesus’ instruction. Even now, most can still quote Matt. 7:12, yet, how many fulfill it?
What This Verse Instructs
Contrary to what we might twist this verse to mean, this verse does not directly regulate how others are to treat us (though this will be the case if others are following the command). This verse is an instruction from our Lord on how we are to treat others – regardless of how we are treated! If this verse is approached from the standpoint of how others must treat us, or hoping to have the good treatment “repaid,” we miss the true beauty of this instruction.
This verse is a practical instruction on how to love others. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-44). When asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matt. 22:36), Jesus responded, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’…And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37, 39). These two passages alone show that we must love others – everyone else – if we are to be pleasing to our Lord!
However, the difficult part is not knowing that we should love others, it is applying the command. How do I show love to those who hate me and disagree with me? How do I love another to the extent my Lord commands me to (love my neighbor as myself)? Jesus’ instruction in Matt. 7:12 answers these questions!
A Two Step Process
If I am to keep the command given by my Lord, I must be serious about it. This kind of love will not just happen by accident. This kind of love requires diligence on my part. It won’t always be easy, but I must be dedicated to do that which I know to be right – even when I don’t want to.
First, if I truly want to love others as Jesus instructs, I must consider how I desire to be treated. None of us have any trouble looking out for “number 1.” We all are very diligent to ensure that we are treated exactly how we want (we do not mistreat ourselves). We make sure that we have all that we need and do all that we can to ensure that we are taken care of and are happy. We easily overlook our own faults and maintain realistic expectations for ourselves. We never say anything bad about ourselves that we would not desire to be said. Nor do we ever neglect our need to feel important and loved.
Yet, while I am so good at loving myself, I often fall short in loving others as I ought? Why is this? Clearly it is not because I am not capable of doing so. For, if that was the case, I would not be able to love myself so well! So, what’s the problem? The problem is the very point that I do not treat others as I desire to be treated. Therefore, the first step in loving others how we ought is to consider how we would want to be treated if the roles were reversed!
Second, not only must we consider how others would desire to be treated, but, we also must act accordingly. Just because I know what I should do, does not mean that I am doing what should be done. I might determine how I would want to be treated, and then decide to treat the individual in another way! If we are to be pleasing to God in the way we treat others, we must treat them how we would want ourselves to be treated.
A final point about this process is that we should be prayerful at all times. Let us all be praying that we will always consider how we would want to be treated in every situation and to act accordingly. Let us be praying this prior to being in the situation, while we’re in that situation, and pray that we’ve acted correctly or that we will learn from our mistakes and correct them after the situation is concluded.
What This Will Do
As mentioned, this is such a simple command to remember and to teach. Yet, it is so often neglected! Why? Because we are simply not willing to put aside our own selfishness and love others as we love ourselves! However, if we accept the Savior’s command, we will see a drastic change throughout our lives….
If we practice God’s will on this subject it will elevate others to their proper place. This will not put ourselves before others, rather, it will always elevate others above ourselves! “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). Will you dare to put others above yourself?
If we practice God’s will on this subject, we will experience a complete transformation within our earthly relationships. [NOTE: This is not to say that every relationship with unconditionally improve. Some will not respond to your love. Yet, you must "overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:21).] Be willing to practice this command within every relationship that you have/will have. Be willing to love your enemy as you love yourself (Rom. 12:14). Be willing to love your spouse as yourself (see Eph. 5:28). Be willing to love members of the Body of Christ as yourself (1 Cor. 12:20-22; Rom. 12:15). Be willing to love your earthly family as yourself. Be willing to love complete strangers as yourself (Luke 10:25-37). If you do this, you might be surprised how your earthly relationships will thrive! Not only that, but if you do this, you will be pleasing to the Lord!
Will You Obey?
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). This is a command from our Savior. Will you obey it? If not, why not? As with all the commands given by God, we will be judged on the last day according to how we’ve kept this command (John 12:48). Failure to keep this command will result in sin – separation from our God (Is. 59:1-2). Won’t you choose to love?
- Eric Krieg -
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.