"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Matthew 7 -- Greeting others as part of the 'Golden Rule'

I saw this quote in a publication I just got in the mail about an hour ago. Thought it was worth contemplating.

"Loving our enemy includes those who are hard to love, whether a hostile stranger or a bad-tempered spouse. And therefore the ways of love that Jesus demands are as varied as self-sacrifice at the one end of the spectrum and a simple greeting at the other end. It is remarkable that in the context of enemy-love Jesus says something as ordinary as, 'If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?' (Matt. 5:47). People concerned with global suffering and international injustices might think this is ridiculously individualistic and insignificant. Greetings? Does it really matter in a world like ours whom we say hello to on the street? Jesus knows that the true condition of our heart is revealed not just by the global causes we espouse, but by the daily acts of courtesy we show. Relentlessly he pursues the transformation of our hearts, not just the alteration of our social agendas."

-- John Piper, What Jesus Demands of the World

Now we are moving on to Matthew 7 where in verse 12 Jesus sums up the Law and the Prophets with, "so in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you."

Seems simple enough. If you want others to treat you with courtesy, show courtesy to them. If you want others to be kind and understanding and give you the benefit of the doubt, do the same for them. Who knew that greeting others - strangers or brothers, outcasts or friends - could be such a big deal?

Have you ever been roaming around a workplace or university and notice how people want to send their cordial greetings to the bosses or professors, deans and presidents? I wonder if those same people also greet the hardworking black janitor mopping the floor or the Mexican lady cleaning toilets in similar fashion. Do we tend to greet those whom seem important to us while ignoring those cleaning behind us?

I wonder how Jesus would have acted in this work or college setting. Remember according to him, the greatest among us is the one who serves, not the one who is being served.

Can you think of examples in your own life of people reaching out to only the rich or important while ignoring the poor and common folks? Or maybe you have seen people who reach out to all types with no regard to their stations in life? What are some areas you wish people would shape up and be more understanding and kind? Any other examples or thoughts on this topic? What do you think of John Piper's quote and the significance of greetings? Do you agree or disagree with him?


Suroor said...

" I wonder if those same people also greet the hardworking black janitor mopping the floor or the Mexican lady cleaning toilets in similar fashion."

I always, always greet people and thank them graciously who service me and are actually doing *me* a favour by doing things I wouldn't want to do, like cleaning a really dirty table for me in a food court or cleaning a public loo before I go inside or mopping the supermarket floor where the baby decides to spit. They matter more to me than my queen (I often blaspheme like that!). And I always, always give them a small tip. Often they are left flabbergasted which tells me just how much they must be ignored by the rest.

Someone once called me a softie and even a pushover because I stood hugging a janitor in a mall loo whose son was sick and she was so distressed she began to tell me her story. My question to them was 'how does it NOT hurt your heart to hear a story like that?'

Great post! That is why I think you rock :)

Texan in UAE said...

Suroor, I am a lot like you. I show my appreciation to people no matter what they do. Here in UAE we have loads of maids and they get treated like dirt. Y'all wouldn't believe some stories.

Susanne, Just coming by to say.. hello. It's so nice to see people so passionate about their religion. (((hugs)))

Susanne said...

Thank you both for sharing your sweet stories. I'm so happy to share a world with kindhearted people like you. :) I know it always blesses ME to show kindness to people. Sharing love just goes a long way in making the world better.

I appreciate your comments.

Texan in UAE said...

Susanne, just coming and checking on you. (((hugs))) saying, HELLO! I hope your having a good day!

Susanne said...

Thanks! Hope your day is going well. Nice to see you drop by. :)

Amber said...

It's sort of like...compassion begins 'at home'. Too many people adopt causes (which are important, I'm not saying that we should ignore the suffering of people in other places) and ignore the people right next to them who are also suffering. Maybe it's not starving to death or anything like that, but the little things can change someones whole day.

I was having a truly, truly terrible day over Lent, and some random older man smiled and gave me a high five at the gym. I have no clue why he did that, but that simple gesture really did pick up my day. :)

I do try to treat everyone equally. I may not always succeed, but I do my best nice to the clerks, to janitors, to everyone and I try not to judge them based on their 'station'. How're they different from me except in material things? And how much do those things count, in the end?

Susanne said...

Amber, thanks for sharing how some random person brightened your day at the gym! Love that! :)

Great comment...thanks so much for what you added!