It’s amazing to me how most of the Christian life boils down to the Golden Rule:
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, ESV)
I was struck by this when we were studying Zahl’s Grace in Practice. I was struck by it anew today reading my brother’s blog post here. Especially helpful to me was one of the comments he had received on that post:
I think I also find that there can be plenty of small offenses (particularly in marriage) that are built up as a sort of “account” against someone that can all come rushing out at inappropriate moments when those small offenses were not “overlooked” or appropriately dealt with when they were minor issues.
St. Paul (not my brother, not the city in Minnesota either, but the actual St. Paul) says that love is patient (I Cor. 13:4), that love does not insist on its own way (I Cor. 13:5), that love is not resentful (I Cor. 13:5), and that love endures all things (I Cor. 13:6). If I’m patient with you, I will choose to overlook your offenses against me. I won’t insist on “being right.” (Even when “someone on the Internet is wrong!”) I won’t let those little offenses (as the commenter above said) build up into a reservoir of resentment and/or bitterness. I will endure the offenses of those I love, not because I want to have a “martyr complex” or because I am “weak,” but because I love them. Because that is how I want others to respond to my offenses against them. I want others to forgive my debts against them (Matthew 6:12), so I should forgive their debts against me.*
Woody Allen once wrote that all 20th century literature is simply a footnote to Goethe’s Faust. I say that all of the Christian life is simply a footnote to the Golden Rule.
Yes, the Golden Rule. And yes, I believe it really is that simple.
And that difficult.
*Or “trespasses,” for you non-Reformed. But the Greek word there is best translated as “debts.” And the Vulgate also translates it as debita. And almost all English translations of the Bible translate it as “debts.” Not that I’d insist on my own way or anything. 🙂