I have a happy memory of visiting my mother at the paint factory where she worked as the bookkeeper when I was very young. Occasionally my babysitter would drop me off there and I had to wait until mother’s workday was finished. The men in the factory were all like old, wizened uncles to me. One in particular was quite fond of me and always asked me about my day. He called me “Ornery.” It was many years before I knew the definition of that word … but I did like that he gave me a special nickname. Now that I think about it, his choice of words was rather prophetic.
This gentleman once gave me a real treasure. It was a solid green marble ball with a gold and black band around it that read: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I cherished this gift and hid it under my bed lest my sister try to take it from me. I often thought about the words and the generosity of that craggy old fellow.
I later learned that those words come from the Bible. Listen to this discourse from the book of Luke, as he records Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. We begin with the “blessed are you” portions:
Luke 6 (New International Version)
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
Jesus assured the hearers that the resurrection will reverse all of their current woes. Poverty, hunger, weeping, rejection, exclusion, insults … soon will come a time when earth passes away and a time of rejoicing will ensue.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
But woe to those who enjoy the affluence and wealth of this earthly existence, for that, too will pass away and their joy will be short-lived here on earth.
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
So today, as you’re driving with angry drivers around you, when you are in rush at the grocery store and the cashier is taking too long, when annoying things happen at home, remember the solid green ball’s message that fascinated a child: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
This is the way.