What does this mean? Simply, it means to treat others the way you want to be treated. Also referred to as the "Golden Rule", it means that you should always ask yourself the question "How would I feel if someone did that to me?" This seems like good advice. It's hard to argue with it. Doing so would mean you would have to advocate the opposite- "Do unto others before they do it to you." People kid about it, but the truth is that if we acted that way, the world would quickly degrade into a "dog eat dog" malestrom. Most people, at least to some degree, try to treat others the way that they want to be treated.
The Pharisees were attempting to split hairs, in order to trap Jesus and prove that He wasn't as smart as His followers thought He was. But the hairsplitting attempts didn't stop there.
Luke's gospel records the teacher of the law asking, "Who is my neighbor?" So, they apparently conceded the Golden Rule. But now they were attempting to dissect exactly who we were obligated to treat in this way. Again, Jesus' answer is brilliant.
Jesus tells the story of the "Good Samaritan." You probably know the story- a man is left in a ditch for dead. Rabbi's, preachers, and other upstanding people pass him by, not wanting to dirty themselves with this repulsive victim. Samaritans, in those days, were considered not much better than heathens. Perhaps only Gentiles were thought less of than Samaritans.
At the end of the parable, Jesus asks: "Which one acted like a neighbor to the man?" It's pretty subtle and you might miss it. Jesus has completely turned the tables. He changes the question from "Who do I have to treat like a neighbor?" to "What does acting like a true neighbor mean?" His point was that Christians have an obligation to treat everyone as if they were a neighbor. His point was to treat everyone the way that we want to be treated.
Modern day Christians would do well to heed Jesus' advice. There are people all around us that are hurting. And it may not be pretty. It's easy to be nice to well-dressed people in church. Especially if we've been going to church with them for years. But there are people out there in the marketplace of life that are deeply in trouble. And they may or may not look like they need help. And they may not even know they need help. And helping them can be very messy.
You face rejection. You face risk- risk that the solution to their problems may requre a deep investment on your part. And you face an investment without a return. You may help someone who doesn't acknowledge your help, much less appreciate it.
But our Savior told us that this is how we are to act toward others, no matter who they are.
So, here's my advice. Look around you- at work, in school, at the grocery store. Chances are, you will run into someone who is not very lovable. But love them. And keep loving them. Don't get hurt if they don't love you back. Just keep on loving them.
By the way, that's exactly what Jesus did. He loved His accusers. He loved His executioners. And He asked His Father to forgive them.
You can do the same thing.