I’ve been a mum for almost 11 years now. I’m no expert and I try to learn from my mistakes but parenting is one of those things that society assumes that you should know stuff and in turn, you sometimes pretend that you do know stuff, especially to our children. If I’m honest though, it also sometimes feels a bit hypocritical. I’ll tell you why.
When our children are little, like toddler little, we have this ability to shape their picture of the world.
When it comes to life lessons, teaching them the Golden rule is typically the first on the agenda.
“Honey you need to share – how would you like it if Johnny were doing that to you, treat others as you would like to be treated?”
Encouraging our little ones to share a toy at playgroup is something that a mother is aware of and in that situation (and many others) you can facilitate change. It’s a controlled environment that your children are in and as an adult you have some sway.
You teach them empathy by speaking about it, by modelling it and by imagining it with them. You want them to treat everyone with respect so that they will reap that in return.
And then you send them to a new school in year 4 (well that’s what we did) with new kids and new challenges and our daughter comes home and tells us about the world she lives in and asks us why it doesn’t match up with the world we told her about and you realise that the world doesn’t always reciprocate kindness.
The notion that if you treat others the way that you would like to be treated doesn’t cut the mustard when you’re a 10year old girl in the playground.
She begins to ask me about the times when being nice to others is not enough? When it does not guarantee that they will be nice back to you.
And then something about the Golden rule, the way that you have interpreted it before, just doesn’t add up anymore. The Golden rule has been seen as the one thing that holds the Universe together and people tend to use this as a foundational rule and moral compass on how we should be as humans.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
I’ve got a hunch, that when Jesus said it in Matthew 7:12 it wasn’t just a stand-alone lesson for the betterment of the Universe. It was part of a string of lessons on a Mount that points to a Kingdom Culture taught to followers for a Kingdom purpose.
Take a look at the other lessons in that string, Love your neighbour, Love your enemy, they all sound a bit meatier than “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. Is it about non action or a call to action?
If you don’t do anything bad, does that really make you a loving person? Or is there more to love than that? Is non-action what Jesus was talking about?
The message in Matthew 7:12 goes beyond being idle in our love for others by not treating them badly and it extends to a freedom that looks like this;
The loving kindness that you receive from being a child of God is the same loving kindness that you get to extend to others.
I don’t think that we need the GOLDEN RULE there to remind us that we need to be nice to people that are nice to us. (Although sometimes we do need reminding) I think it’s there to ask us to seek out what our fellow humans need and act upon our empathy with initiative.
Seeking to understand, first, how others would like to be cared for and then doing it!
For my daughters to know that the freedom comes in love in action.
I hope they will see a message of freedom not the karma-style interpretation.
He is calling us to make it our mission to find out what our neighbours, our enemies and our brothers and sisters need, and to do it first! And to then do it last! And to keep on doing it like salt would flavour food and light would throw life into darkness.
He can strengthen you to do this because it was done on the cross.
If only we were willing to recognise and receive it so we could give it away again.