How far do we take the verse “do to others what you would have them do to you” or something like that. Here’s what I mean. I mean I would WANT a lot of things from others but obviously I understand that you don’t get everything you ask for, so do you need to do every favour everyone asks of you or pick up every (not important) phone call simply because you would want it to happen to you?
Let’s consider an unimportant telemarketer call.
Does the telemarketer want you to pick up? Sure.
If you were the telemarketer, would you want him/her to pick up? Definitely.
But if the roles were reversed, do you think the telemarketer would want to pick up your call? (remember: in this scenario, you’d actually be the telemarketer) No! Most people find these calls annoying.
Personally, I find the “Golden rule” to be a great guide when we deal with others. I once took a business course that introduced business with it, citing its importance in so many world religions.
Here’s the verse:
12 All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets. (St. Matthew 7)
If we take the verse as an individual teaching we could get the wrong understanding of it.
We must look at the whole content in order to understand the context:
What one wants to happen to him/her he/she must be willing to do for others.
Jesus demands that we do our best all of the time; that we respect, cherish, love and protect our neighbor.
It is the reason why He equates this rule with the law and the prophets. Here’s a different take on it:
37 Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. 38 This is the greatest and the first commandment. 39 And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets. (St. Matthew 22)
Everything revolves around Love.
Now, what you have stated is almost emptied of this connection (Love God and love neighbor) since you are basically bartering: 'if I do this or not do that, then God/others will be obliged to compensate/reciprocate in kind.
…as for the calls, as a Follower of Christ what you cannot do is ignore someone you claim as a friend/acquaintance while lavishing all your time on those you esteem as equals (St. Matthew 5 through 7). You cannot do favors in expectation of gains.
Say, I were needing a helping hand fixing my car (I don’t own a car) and you have the tools/ability to assist me; yet, you choose to use the tools/abilities/time to hang/help someone who is not as needy as I (vehicle for work/family vs. recreational vehicle)–Jesus Commands us to do as we would want others to do for us (check out the clause in Our Father).
Still, I concur with you that we cannot do everything for everyone 24/7–that’s where Love and Wisdom takes place; we must separate the needs from the wants, even when giving of ourselves.
Thanks so much @jcrichton
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