“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:30).
Have you heard the story of the criminal and the Bishop? The criminal had just gotten out of prison for theft. Because of his criminal past, he is rejected by everyone in town. The Bishop, however, surprises the criminal by welcoming him into his home, feeding him, and providing him a place to sleep—in his own room.
Against the advice of friends, the Bishop does not secure the valuables in the house. That night, the criminal takes off with the silver, only to be caught and returned to the Bishop. The Bishops’ response? “I should have written a note for Jean (the criminal) explaining to all that I had given the silver to him.” After the police leave, the Bishop asks the criminal to take the silver and use it to become an honest man.
What had the Bishop really done? He had done for the criminal what he would have wanted done for himself.
The criminal had made bad choice. He had had a tough life. But the Bishop knew that Christ died to redeem—to offer forgiveness—for these bad choices. The Bishop wanted the criminal to know this too.
Far more valuable than the stolen silver was this man’s soul. By providing the same grace and mercy that Christ has offered him, the Bishop treated the man the way He wanted to be treated and pointed the way to Christ.
When you and I treat others the way we want to be treated—with compassion, mercy, grace, love and forgiveness, we also have the opportunity to point people to Christ.
We can explain what Christ’s forgiveness has done for us. In do doing, we provide hope to the lost; the invaluable hope of redeeming a person’s soul.
The most genuine way we can teach people about the love and forgiveness offered through Christ is the way we treat them. We represent Christ to the world.
Most people love themselves. Therefore, the standard for loving like Christ is loving others the way we want to be loved.
- Who do you relate to the most: the suspicious friends or the compassionate Bishop or the lost criminal? Why?
- What three steps can you take today to treat others the way you want to be treated? How is this different than the way you have been treating others?
- How does the saying “Put yourself in their shoes” help explain this lesson?
- Share a personal experience where someone treated you better than you expected and how that made you feel about that person. Did you wonder what motivated them to do so? Did you ask them?
Dear God, thank you for your compassionate mercy. I confess that I have not treated others the way I want to be treated. I have served my personal justice on them instead of showing mercy and pointing them to Christ. Please help me love others the way you love me. Help me see others the way you see them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.