Weeds and Roses

4bf7993cef7e6e71ba48e654c4c39b45--beautiful-red-roses-red-rose-loveWilliam Jennings Bryan, a former presidential candidate and outspoken progressive, once compared American society to a garden. Here’s a quote from one of his speeches:

In a garden, you don’t let the weeds triumph over the roses simply because the weeds are stronger. You protect the roses from the weeds. And if you want a society where you have good people, kindness, charity, and equality, you have to do some weeding.

The late 1800’s and early twentieth century in America saw many movements to reconcile a rather lengthy list of wrongs. Social inequality, in all of its various forms, was chief among them. That’s something I believe many of us can relate to, or at least recognize as visible in some ways in the 21st century. So his quote can be every bit as relevant in our day, as well as any other period in human history. So it begs the question, who are the roses and who are the weeds?

Roses are absolutely beautiful. I know that may be weird for a man to say, but I love flowers and roses are high up on my list. The rose has long been a symbol for love and friendship in many cultures, including our own here in America. A rose speaks of something of value and worth. To label something, or someone, a rose means that they are precious in your sight. Weeds…even saying the word creates a bit of anger and frustration in the hearts of anyone who has a yard to tend. Weeds are a classic reminder of the fall of mankind. I’m fully convinced that weeds did not exist in the garden before original sin entered the world. They are relentless, powerful, hard to kill, and they will choke the life out of every living plant in your yard if you let it.

So, with this less than eloquent description I lay before you, who do you think the weeds and roses are in the society you live in? Those that Bryan sought to endear our hearts to are not whom many would expect. They were the downtrodden, the outcasts, the homeless, the immigrant, the orphans and widows. Jesus would describe them as ‘the least of these’.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

Matthew 25:31-40 (ESV) [my emphasis]

God loves everyone, that’s fact. Yes, even those you don’t like. God still loves them. God loves the superstar and the homeless man alike. God doesn’t show partiality with His love. For that, I am extremely grateful. For there were moments in my life when only He could love me. But tendered to God’s heart are all those who are helpless, hurting, lost, broken, and blemished. Societies have a funny way of determining the value of a person, and it’s not at all the way God does. Money means nothing to Him. Fame is futile in God’s kingdom. Who really cares what we drive or what the square footage of our home is? Do we think any of that lasts or has any eternal value? Zero. God’s eyes are fixed on His people. He sees the homeless man at that stop light that we pretend not to see. He sees all the abandoned or neglected children. He sees the abused wife and emasculated husband. He sees the exploited and abandoned. And to Him, they are roses. They are beautiful. they have unlimited value and worth. And so do those who take care of them.

Unfortunately, those weeds that are choking the life out of them are the one’s that popular culture loves to elevate. Lets not be guilty of that ourselves. Look into the eyes of the innocent child, the dust covered face of that man on the street, the newly arrived alien who does not speak your language, and know that they are roses in our garden. Life began with God, and all life has immense value to Him. It should be the same for each of us. All people need to know their worth, and we have an important role to play in that.


Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. Selah


The title of this post comes from Psalm 87:3 (NASB). It serves as a reminder of the importance of Jerusalem, then and now. A city that has been fought over for centuries yet who’s name means the City of Peace. It was a city created to honor and worship God. Not just any god. The God of the Bible. The only real God. And yet, the world believes it has dominion over this great city.

I am relieved that I live in a nation, for the time being, that is not following the antisemitic path that many nations are on around the world. At least I can say that under our current leadership. The eight years before…not so much.  I understand that there are many antisemitic people in the United States. But at least for now, we are restrengthening our ties with one of the freest and most democratic nations in the world. There are many things I don’t care for with our current Executive, but I am elated with his overwhelming support of perhaps our greatest ally.

The UN voted recently to reject America’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capitol of Israel. On the positive side, 44 nations did not side with the UN’s resolution. On another positive side, UN resolutions mean little to nothing in most cases. It does however, reveal the anti-Israeli stance of many nations around the world. But that is no shocker.

While people are clamoring  over the decision by President Trump to recognize Israel’s capital as…well…Israel’s capital, there are many prominent voices speaking out in praise. I read several of these in an article today that I’d like to share with you because they brought me some encouragement.

– Douglas Feith, President George W. Bush’s undersecretary of defense: Writing in Foreign Policy, he said, “U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem might contribute to peace.” It teaches Palestinians, he wrote, “[t]here is a price to be paid for perpetuating the conflict: Life goes on, the Israelis create new realities, and the world in general adjusts to those new realities.”

– Amos Yadlin, head of the centrist Israeli Institute for National Security Studies, tweeted, “Trump was not intimidated by the threats from Ramallah, Amman, or Ankara,” referring to the Palestinian, Jordanian and Turkish capitals, respectively. “The refusal to bow to the threats or blackmail, together with the message that the Palestinians do not have veto power, [is] a very important precedent for the future of the peace process.”

– Shoshanna Bryen, senior director of the Jewish Policy Center, wrote in The Daily Caller, “The intention is to disabuse the Palestinians of the notion that the U.S. is neutral between them and our democratic, pro-Western, tolerant, free-market ally Israel. American support for Palestinian’s aspirations is not withdrawn, but hinges on Palestinian behavior.”


In the face of this landmark, and long overdue decision, the Palestinians and some of the surrounding Arab nations are showing their true colors by speaking out in outrage. To make matters worse, Hamas (An Islamist political organization and terrorist militant group that has waged war on Israel since the group’s 1987 founding, most notably through suicide bombings and rocket attacks) has renewed its outward violence.

Despite what some say, this declaration did not bring violence and upheaval to the region. That was already there. Not because of Israel, but because of those who are precipitating it now. What the declaration did do, was to force the world to face up to reality. Israel is not going anywhere. Jerusalem belongs to Israel, not the UN. Unfortunately, this is a reality that not everyone can accept. Fortunately, God is in control of Israel, not the United Nations.

A vote against Israel is a vote in support of the radical agendas that seek to destroy her. Does Israel do everything right? Not at all. But they are light-years ahead of those who surround them. Please spread the word of peace. Side with democracy and freedom. Speak up for our ally. No matter how you feel about our President, join in this courageous move for truth. Make your voice heard because the same anti-Israeli sentiments that predicated the last 8 years, and have plagued other periods of our nation’s history, could easily rise again. Remember God’s promise that those who stand with Israel will be blessed. As for those who do not…I think you know the rest.

I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt…

Genesis 12:3 (HCSB)

As the debate is sure to rage on and on, lets not forget Who this city really belongs to and who He gave it to. The UN didn’t create Israel in 1947, they simply gave land back that was already theirs. Regardless of what bickering and protests continue to swell, this Jerusalem is only temporary, as is the rest of the world. What I can’t wait for is the new Jerusalem, adorned in glory. There, the nations of the world will be united, not under the banner of a UN, but in the presence of our God.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV)

Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters

Dear Church, Stop Giving Your Crap to the Poor 

John McDermott is a Formerly Homeless Man Who Now Has Housing

Re-posted from faithit.com

I was getting ready to leave for a trip to Kenya a couple of years ago, when a church emailed and asked if Mercy House had any specific needs. I quickly responded and told them I wanted to give Maureen, our Kenyan Director, an iPhone, so we could communicate during (almost weekly) power outages. I told them if they would buy one instead, we could use the money for other needed items.

On the church’s Facebook feed a few days later, I saw an appeal that said something like, “We want to support a ministry with a used iPhone. If you have an old one you can donate, please let us know.”

 I was given an older iPhone a week later. On the ground in Kenya, I realized it wouldn’t hold a charge for more than 10 minutes. The phone was junk.

So, when I left Kenya, I gave Maureen my used one that worked.

The church contacted me after the trip and asked how Maureen liked her new phone? I told them it was useless and said, “Don’t worry about it. I gave her mine.”

“Oh, we feel badly, please let us replace your phone! We want to buy you a brand new one, an upgrade. You deserve it,” I told them I used my husband’s upgrade and already had a replacement phone. “OK. Instead we would like to write you a $500 check for the inconvenience.”

Give it to Maureen, I said.

And they did.

While the church tried to make it right, I was bothered by the fact they were more than willing to buy me a new phone I didn’t need. I have noticed this mentality permeates the church as a whole: The poor will be happy with our leftovers. They don’t know any better. They live in Africa or Honduras, they don’t need the latest technology or the best brands like we do. They will appreciate anything we give because something is more than nothing.

Why do we give others—often those in service to the poor or the poor themselves—something we wouldn’t keep or give ourselves?

Somehow collecting clothes for immigrants has become the perfect opportunity to get rid of stuff we don’t want and gathering baby items for new moms is the perfect excuse to toss out stained and worn clothing we wouldn’t dare use again. I’ve packed suitcases with beautiful donations, but mostly I’ve pilfered through piles of junk donated in the name of Jesus.

It’s time to stop giving our crap to the poor.

There’s nothing wrong with used or second-hand. It’s often my first and favorite choice. Many organizations and ministries depend on used gifts. But if we give used, it should be our best. I’m not saying when we clean out older clothes or toys or things we don’t use any longer and donate them—that this is wrong. I am saying if we give it away, it should be something we would use ourselves.

The poor may not have wealth, but they have dignity. I’ve met people without electricity or running water who swept their dirt floors daily, pressed their clothes neatly, walked miles to work on muddy roads, dodging sewage, and never had a speck of dirt on them. They value their own worth, we should too.

I’ll never forget meeting a woman in Africa who supported her large family by reselling used clothes from America. But when she held up clothes to show me what was for sale—clothes Americans had donated in clothing drives—they were tattered and stained. I was embarrassed.

Her best depended on our worst.

Just because our donation feels like we are helping, in reality, we could be hurting. Bales of used clothes are sold to African countries for resell and they end up flooding the market and often put local textile businesses and seamstresses out of business.

It’s time to think about not only what we give and how we give it, but also why we give it. Just because it makes us feel better (and cleans out our garage at the same time) doesn’t mean it’s the best for those in need. Perhaps we should look a little deeper into our hearts and wallets when we can say, I don’t have money to give to the poor, but I have a lot of stuff. Maybe we need to buy less stuff, so we have more to give?

“We’re not giving what we’re called to give, unless that giving affects how we live—affects what we put on our plate and where we make our home and hang our hat and what kind of threads we’ve got to have on our back. Surplus Giving is the leftover you can afford to give; Sacrificial Giving is the love gift that changes how you live—because the love of Christ has changed you. God doesn’t want your leftovers. God wants your love overtures, your first-overs, because He is your first love.” Ann Voskamp

There have been times over the years I’ve gasped and grinned at the beautiful items I’ve sorted and packed  for the impoverished. When we give our best, we are living our best. We are saying with our donation, you are valuable. We are whispering with our gift, you are worthy of the best. We have the opportunity to speak self worth when we give generously.

It’s a promise for them.

It’s a promise for us.

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Proverbs 19:17

The next time we have the opportunity to share what we have with someone who is in need, let’s give from the pile we want to keep, not from the one we want to throw out.

by: Kristen Welch

Hanukkah…all about JESUS


Dear Friends,

I love stories about heroes and sacrifice. They are incredibly compelling. That’s perhaps why Hanukkah is one of my favorite times of the year. Hanukkah is the season when we celebrate how, centuries ago, God’s people were willing to make enormous sacrifices, to fight against great odds, not comprise their faith, and do what was right. They became heroes through their obedience to God.

Here’s a summary of the amazing story …

Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world but died without an heir, so his massive new empire (which included Judea) was divided among his generals. This was fine for the Jews of Judea at first – until 175 BC, when the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded and tried to outlaw worship of the one true God, the God of Israel. Antiochus banned circumcision, outlawed the Hebrew Bible and even sacrificed pigs on an altar to Zeus in God’s Holy Temple. This prompted a Jewish uprising – the Maccabean Revolt – led by a Jewish priest named Mattathias and his sons. After ten long years of guerrilla warfare against a much larger and better equipped Seleucid army, the Jewish rebels did the seemingly impossible, pushing back their enemies, recapturing Jerusalem and cleansing and rededicating the Temple. That’s why those Jewish Maccabean warriors were heroes – they did impossible things, against impossible odds, because it was right and because God told them to. Their heroic actions are the basis for the celebration of Hanukkah. Especially important was the miracle of the oil. During the re-dedication of the temple, they found only enough specially prepared oil to relight the lampstand in the Holy place for one day. But miraculously, God kept the lampstand burning for eight days until new oil could be prepared! This is why we celebrate Hanukkah by lighting candles for eight days. All because the heroes of that day had faith that God could do the impossible.

Heroes today are those who work so hard to provide impoverished and often persecuted people with clean water, education, clothing, friendship, and most important of all, with the Good News of Yeshua (Jesus) who loves them, died for them and wants them to receive the gift of eternal life. After all, Yeshua is the reason for this season and this celebration. Here’s a few reasons why:

#1- He is our light, and the only good and pure thing that breaks back the darkness of our of a sinful world.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it

John 1:4-5 (NIV)

#2- He is the ultimate hero who stepped down out of heaven to die on cross for a sinful humanity.

Have this attitude in yourselves, which also was in Messiah YeshuaWho, though existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be grasped. But He emptied Himself, taking on the form of a slave, becoming the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8 (TLV)

#3- He is God’s provision for us that never runs out.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10:12-14 (ESV)

Hanukkah is absolutely amazing. It’s full of spiritual significance, all of which points directly to the Savior of the world. As a Christian, this celebration has incredible importance. Who wouldn’t love celebrating Jesus for eight days straight? Lighting the Hanukkiah (tree of life), singing worship eight nights in row, recounting stories of God’s faithfulness, it’s so much fun and so encouraging! I invite all my brothers and sisters around the world to join me and my family in honoring our King, our Light, our Life. It starts tonight. Will you join me?

Will you be a hero by not abandoning conviction and truth? Will you be a hero and share the love of Yeshua with a hurting world? Will you shine His love and light into the darkness?

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 (ESV)

Peace in Christ

A Profitable Life


And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:34-38 (ESV) [my emphasis]

I think we’re all faced with some really difficult questions about life at no greater moment than when we lose someone close to us. Tragic events bring us face to face with a reality that affects us all…we are all going to die. Isn’t it interesting, and slightly ironic, that death is the most effective catalyst to cause us to evaluate life?

For me, the journey of truest soul searching began in late December 2013. I can honestly say that my life had rarely been disrupted by loss like it was then.  Sure, I had lost pets, distant relatives, and great grandparents before. Nearly 10 years earlier my grandmother, who I was pretty close to, had gone home to be with Lord. But even that did not compare to losing my father on December 31st, 2013. Two big reasons for that are that I was in a very different place in my life when my dad died and we were as close as about any father and son could be. Other than my wife, he was the one I spent the most time with. In addition to losing my father, I lost my grandfather while in the process of publishing this book. My grandfather and I shared a birthday, lived next door while I was growing up, and had a special bond.  When you lose extremely important people, role models, and friends, it shakes your life up pretty good.

In the weeks following my dad’s death, I helped my mom go through some of his things. At one point I found myself in his old weight room. From wall to wall shelves were filled with trophies and plaques from all of the successes in nearly 40 years of coaching high school and middles school wrestling. It was a spectacle to see. My mom asked me what we should do with them. It was then that I realized that they meant absolutely nothing. They were pieces of metal and plastic. The trophies themselves had zero value to them other than what could be reused if recycled. They weren’t something that my dad could take to heaven with him and they held no significance to those he left behind.

The trophies were not the only memorabilia in there. On all of the walls were nearly 40 years of team photos. Those represented over 1500 high school and middle school boys (including my brother and I) that passed through his care and tutelage. Fifteen hundred lives marked by his words and lead by his actions. While the trophies carried with them no worth, those photographs captured immeasurable value.

The lives my dad was able to influence in this lifetime and career as a teacher and coach have had an effect beyond what any of us could see. Students and athletes of his have carried on lessons he taught them, to their own families, students, and athletes. The lives we touch are always exponential. In the end, trophies and titles don’t validate a person’s efforts in life, it’s the impact we have on others that does. This was confirmed for me in a big way during my dad’s memorial service. We decided to hold it at the high school where he spent most of his career. The gym bleachers were packed! We’re talking around a thousand people. Several of them shared their testimonies of how my dad impacted their lives. I haven’t stopped hearing from people how much he had meant to them ever since.

This leads to several  important questions: what have we lived for? What profit has come from all of my choices, efforts, and sacrifices? Was it all worth it? What exactly does profit our lives according Jesus? Some of these questions, you can only answer for yourself. But as to what Jesus defines as a profitable life is well described within the Bible. Chapter seven of my book  explores the Christ defined profitable life by comparing our life to a movie. Who is the main character in your life movie? Answering that question will go a long ways in unveiling the answers to all the other ones.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

It’s never too late to live a profitable life. And you have been made for just that.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

The Lily and the Apple Tree

fireheartA lot people avoid the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon, depending on your translation). It makes people blush, and rightfully so. I haven’t seen any bible study small groups quick to make this their selection. But, if it’s in the bible, it must have something very valuable to teach us right? I personally enjoy the book because of its raw, unapologetic description of love. It’s a beautiful dialogue that expresses the heart in a unique way. Just check out this small section:

Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
    like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
    rivers cannot sweep it away.

Song of Songs 8:6-7 (NIV) [my emphasis]

That’s intense right? Death is not something any of us can overpower. We can’t step out of the grave on our own power. And if you’ve ever seen a large powerful fire you’d know it’s unstoppable. It consumes everything in it’s path. To describe love that way is incredibly moving, especially in the context of a marriage.

My wife and I chose these verses for our wedding invitations over 7 years ago. I’d like to say that the past seven plus years have been fueled by a love like this but that wouldn’t be true. Many moments definitely have. But that’s not the case for every one of the nearly 3000 days that we’ve been together. So while passages like this are very moving, they’re also very convicting.

Don’t you think God meant for our love for our spouse to look this way? To be unstoppable, unquenchable, fierce, and powerful? Our love can actually be strong enough that no speeds bumps of life could ever dowse the flames. This is a passionate love that I think every marriage needs, and every spouse deserves. It’s a love that we have to fight for and make every conscious effort to maintain. It’s love that fully adores our spouse no matter how they are acting or if its a good day or not. It’s love that sets our spouse as a priority. It’s a love that serves as often as possible. It’s love that puts the needs of the relationship above either individuals personal needs. It’s a love that withstands any temptation. It’s a love that refuses to dull into oblivion.

Here, check out another one:

Like a lily among thorns
    is my darling among the young women.

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest

    is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
    and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
    and let his banner over me be love.

Song of Songs 2:2-4 (NIV)

This is passion. These are two people who adore one another. Our marriage should be a love poem that would read like this. Our spouse should know that we are head over heals for them. The butterflies never have to stop fluttering in your stomach when you’re out on a date with your significant other. You never have to stop being captivated by the one you chose to spend your life with.

When’s the last time you felt a deep passionate desire for your spouse? Anyone struggling to answer that question should also know that it’s not too late. That fire can be rekindled. With God, all things are possible. But we have to want it.

In a way, to lose our passion for our spouse is equal to devaluing them. If you know the story of Solomon, you know that he eventually went astray. He had to devalue his bride to go after other things and other women. All marriages are susceptible to this. We start to lose that passion when we allow jobs, ministry, other relationships, money, goals, hobbies, and even kids to get in the way.

I think Solomon’s sad story pushes some away from reading his love poem. I hope for you, that’s not the case. We’re told that all scripture is profitable and inspired by God. Which means, He wants us to know the words of the Song of Songs. Because that passionate love that we’re meant to have with our spouse reflects His heart for us. There is no power in existence that can stop our God’s love for us. And that is an encouraging thought.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

Be encouraged

Be loved

Love passionately


The Imitation Golden Rule

_imgWhen I was a kid, I used to collect rocks. I absolutely loved them! It’s amazing that I never became a geologist. Now I’m passing that love on to my children. In all of my rock collecting as a child, I accumulated quite the assortment. Of all of the rocks I sorted through, only one disappointed me. I can remember distinctly as a child combing through a quarry and finding a sparkling golden nugget. I ran up to my parents thinking that I had struck it big. Come to find out, it was a little something called ‘fools gold’. I didn’t get it. Fools gold? I felt kind of dumb and let down all at the same time. When it comes to the so called ‘golden rule’, many people kind of treat it the same way. Jesus provided the real deal, but so many of us are wheeling and dealing the imitation goods and are so surprised when it doesn’t get the same return.

So in everything,do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12 (NIV) [my emphasis]

It’s interesting that so many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, know this phrase as the golden rule. But I’m not so convinced that all of them know the meaning of it. A few years back, one of my students quoted it in class. I asked him if he could tell me who said that. His response was typical. He said, “I thought it was just a principle we are taught as kids.” I gently informed him that these were words spoken by Jesus Christ. Since it was a public classroom, mentioning His name changed the entire atmosphere.

Ironically, when the boy used the phrase, it was in a sarcastic and hurtful tone towards another. So I asked him if he enjoys being talked to like he had just spoken to his classmate. Of course he rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath, “well, all people talk like that.” My teacher ears kicked in and I called him out on it. I said, “first of all, not all people talk like that. Second, just because we know a lot of people who are rude, doesn’t mean we want to be treated that way. Third, if we don’t want to be treated that way, then we shouldn’t treat others that way.” He then slumped into a reflective state and class continued on. He wasn’t mean to another student the rest of the semester. He was actually one of the kindest among his classmates.

This was a classic example of how people misuse this verse. They use it when it’s convenient to prove a point, but not when it forces them to change their ways. Here are what I believe are the two most common misinterpretations of the verse:

1-“…in everything, treat others how you’ve been treated.”

I think this IS society’s golden rule. At least this is how I’ve seen it play out most of my life. It’s also how I’ve been guilty of not applying it like Jesus intended. People with this mindset may start off with good intentions, but if wronged, it will cause a hardness in their heart that callouses over and determines how they relate with others. If loved, they love. If served, they serve.

2-“…in everything, demand that others treat you how you want to be treated.”

Self entitlement is extremely common. People are out to ‘get theirs’ in life. They apply that to relationships, careers, and the like. If others treat them well, it may or may not have any bearing on how they choose to treat others. It’s a ‘me-centered’ universe and their end game is to be treated how they think they deserve and they’ll treat others according to their convenience and mood.

When I read Matthew seven not long ago, it was like a dagger to the heart. I had this image in my mind like I was watching myself interact with others; like it was a movie. You see, it’s a lot easier to critique the actions and words you see and hear from others. But for some reason, the same standards don’t always get applied inwardly. I had a highlight (or low-light) reel run through my mind of several instances of how I mistreated others. They were subtle, but they made me feel ashamed. They made me feel like a hypocrite.

Then I feel like the Lord persuaded me to view situations differently. A thought came to mind. What if I entered every conversation, and took every action, from the perspective of ‘what if this was said or done to me’? That can be the filter but it doesn’t stop there. I believe the words of Jesus are proactive. What I mean is, we should go out of our way to try and change the culture of speech and action. We should enter every conversation with the aim of speaking life, encouragement, truth, gentleness, and hope. That’s what we all want to hear right? We should also try to serve and love all because we all want that from others. So I leave you with the two questions that I’ve been wrestling with ever since my last encounter with Matthew seven.

1-Are you saying the things you want to hear?

2-Are you doing the things you’d like to be done to you?

Imagine how the world around us would change if we did our part to live out the ‘golden rule’.

Peace in Christ my brothers and sisters!