First of the First Responders
We live much of our life reacting to things instead of pre-acting. In other words, I often give back to people in accordance to what they give to me. Give me love and I will give you love back, give me friendship and I can be a good friend, show me some respect and I will show you some respect. Reacting can also have a negative side; hit me and I'll hit you back, criticize me and I will put you down or attack me and I'll attack you. This is just normal living for most people. Then Jesus shows up and has the gall to say this:
Matthew 7:12 “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get. (The Message)
As usual, Jesus presents a new way, he calls us to be a first responder. First responders are always the first to show up at the scene of an emergency. They just wade into dire circumstances looking for ways to help. Jesus seems to be telling us that we are not to be living our lives as reactionaries but we are to approach every situation by asking ourselves, "if this were me in this situation, how would I want others to be dealing with me" and then we are to do exactly that to others. We are to give up reacting and repaying for a life of grace and mercy because that is exactly how we would want people to treat us. We never get to respond in kind, we are always to act as a first responder.
So how is it that I wish others would treat me? I would like to have the benefit of the doubt when I do something that is questionable. I would like second chances. I would like it if people would listen to me and understand me. I need a lot of grace and forgiveness. So Jesus says that I am to take the initiative and give others the very same thing that I want them to give me. This also means that no matter what has preceded in the relationship I still give them what I wish they would give to me. It's like my response is always the first response, like nothing ever happened before my response.
This is a very difficult way to live and an extreme challenge. We want to give people what they deserve and we want to load up our relationships with conditions. We can't even fathom giving respect to those who don't respect us but Jesus, as usual, turns all of our normal living upside down and teaches his people a new way and a better way; a way that may get the world's attention.