Jesus says: Treat others like God treats you

One of the fantastic assumptions in the teachings of Jesus is that God hears and answers our prayers.  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" ~ (Matthew 7:7-11; NASB)
Jesus assures us that God treats His children just like you, as a loving parent, would treat your children.  God isn't a cosmic trickster.  God is a loving Father who cares for His own, and is always looking out for their well being.  If you are truly in need of something, Jesus promises us that we can count on God to take care of us.  All we need to do is simply make our requests known to God, and sit back as we watch Him deliver.

This is a pretty simple and straight forward teaching, and while it would be easy to kick it up a notch and spend an hour preaching a sermon on this topic with a Pentecostal flare, such a thing would be inappropriate.

For when Jesus taught on prayer, the emphasis of His teaching was never really on prayer itself per say.  While there is a place for expounding on the way we ought to pray, who we ought to pray for, when we ought to pray, how long we ought to pray, and other such things, Jesus didn't care to address those issues too deeply.  And if you are reading His teaching on prayer in such a way, you are reading things wrongly.

Rather, when Jesus taught on prayer, He always had an eye on how you were going to behave as a result of praying.  For Jesus, prayer isn't a means by which we get things from God so much as it is a means by which God transforms us through our praying, and how we live our lives after having prayed.

And this teaching on the Sermon on the Mount follows this normal pattern of Jesus in His teaching on prayer.  He ends His teaching on prayer by saying:
"In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the prophets." ~ (Matthew 7:12; NASB)
Take notice of the word "therefore" in the above verse.  It is a word that logical connects us with what was just said to what is getting ready to be said.  As Dr. Tatum used to say in my methods of Bible study class in college, "Whenever you see a 'therefore' ask what the 'therefore' is there for."  

So what is the "therefore" there for?  Jesus says as a result of praying, and seeing God treat us like we would treat our own children, we should therefore treat people in the same way we would want to be treated.

Or in other words, treat other people in the same way you want God to treat you:  

  • If you are ever in doubt as to how you should treat somebody else in any given situation, you should treat them in the exact same way you would want your Heavenly Father to treat you.  
  • If somebody has wronged you, forgive them, because you want God to forgive you.  
  • If somebody keeps doing stupid stuff, be patient with them as they work through their stupidity, just as you want God to be patient with you as you work through your stupid moments.  
  • Instead of neglecting others and acting in some sort of passive aggressive manner with people, actively look out for their well being, just as God is actively looking out for your well being.  
  • If somebody wants you to help them with something, give them your all, just as God has given you His.  Don't half do anything, because God has never half done anything for you.
  • If you receive bad service at a restaurant, leave a good tip anyway, knowing that even when you serve God poorly, you still want Him to bless you with abundant grace and mercy.
  • If somebody is looking for your attention, don't keep putting them off, as God always gives you His attention, and never puts you off.
  • If you owe somebody money, make paying them back your number one priority, as you live in expectation that God will take care of you financially.

No wonder theologians have dubbed this verse of Scripture "The Golden Rule."

Can you imagine what our lives would begin to look like if we lived this way?  Can you imagine the value our lives would bring to this world and those around us?

We would become like God to them.  

And that's exactly the point of this teaching on prayer.  Stop praying merely to get stuff.  Such teaching is Sunday-schoolish.  Instead, live your life in a way as if you were going about the world granting the prayers of others.

Live in such a way in your behavior to others that you answer their petitions and requests to you in the exact same way that God answers your prayers. Go the extra mile.  Hold nothing back.  Look out for their well being.  Touch their lives just as God has touched yours.

If you want to radicalize your prayer life, radicalize your prayer life by changing how you treat others.

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