“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!”—Luke 6:31 (MSG).
If you were to walk through the front door of my house, you’d be able to identify my favorite color. After a brief look around my living room, you’d know red is my favorite. I chose neutral colors for my furniture but use colorful red pillows, candles, and other décor to liven up my living space. You’ll also find pops of red in my kitchen.
Other décor throughout my house reveals my identity as a Christ-follower. On my bookcase, are mementos of my trip to the Holy Land in 2010, including a small statue of Jesus washing Peter’s feet. On another shelf, one of my favorite framed pictures is displayed.
In the painting, Jesus is shown writing in the sand beside a woman who has been accused of adultery. In John 8: 3-11, we read about the Pharisees who tried to trap Jesus into condemning this woman to death because of her sinful behavior. They want to stone her. However, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
What Our Behavior Reveals to Others
Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus is confronted by an expert in the law who asks Him, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Verse 25).
When Jesus asks him about the Law—what is written in it, and how do you read it—the law expert replies, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Verses 26-27).
Jesus tells him the answer is correct, and adds, “Do this and you will live.” However, to justify himself, he asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
When We Try to Justify Our Behavior
Justifying our behavior by giving excuses or demanding more answers is what we often do when we want to prove we’re right. In the scripture above, Luke 10:25-37, Jesus goes on to share the story of the man who was headed to Jericho from Jerusalem. On the way, he is attacked, beaten, and stripped of his clothes and belongings. He is left half dead.
Three men pass by on the road. A priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan. The first two ignored the injured man and passed by. The third showed compassion, bandaged his wounds, and took him by donkey to an inn. There, he tended to his injuries and paid the innkeeper to look after him until he returned and could reimburse him for any extra expenses.
Finishing the story, Jesus asked the expert in the law, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Verse 36). Replying, the expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise” (Verse 37).
Go and Do Likewise
We can always justify our behavior but that doesn’t change the fact that as Christians, we are judged by our actions as well as our words. Sometimes, we might feel as if we’re under a microscope. We can wear a cross around our neck, put Christian bumper stickers on our cars, and still exhibit un-Christlike behavior. Yes, we’re human, prone to give in to our carnal nature.
Our carnal natures can only be quelled by surrendering to Christ, reading and studying scripture, attending corporate worship and Bible studies. Even then, it’s a daily surrendering to Him that keeps us in check.
If we find our identity in Christ, our actions will reflect it. As Jesus says in the NIV version of Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
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