(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
The Golden Rule - Part 1
19th August 2009
I've just got back from my summer holiday. I had two wonderful weeks relaxing in Ireland.
One evening, we shared a bottle of wine over dinner in a restaurant. When they gave me the bill, I saw they'd forgotten to charge me for the wine. I told the waitress about this and she said, "you shouldn't have said anything". When I replied that I didn't think that was true, she said "well, not many people would have" and I answered that that's very sad.
What do you think about this? Is it alright to take advantage of other people's mistakes?
Over the years, many Christians have called this teaching the Golden Rule. To know how you should treat other people, you have only to ask yourself how you would want them to treat you.
Would you like others to take advantage of your mistakes? Of course, the answer is "no".
Would Jesus have paid for the wine? Of course, the answer is "yes".
We can tell ourselves that we're not really being dishonest, we're just paying what we're asked to pay. And I'm sad to say that many Christians would do just that - take advantage of others and claim that it's OK because they were being "honest". But they are certainly not being Christlike. Jesus is the God of love, and taking advantage of others is not loving.
I've even heard Christians suggest that it's OK to take advantage of commercial organisations, like restaurant chains or supermarkets, because "you're not really hurting anybody". But, of course, you're hurting the shareholders in those companies. And Jesus wouldn't do it.
And it may be true that many people would have exploited the restaurant's mistake, but Christians are called to be different, to be salt and light in the world. We are called to do what's loving, even when others wouldn't, even when they call us naive for doing so.
God provides for all my needs, I don't need to talk advantage of others. I need to trust and follow Him.