Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Matthew 25:34-40 -- On Taking Things Personally

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Matthew 25:34-40

I think that God takes everything personally.  And, despite what we learn in our society sometimes, this isn't a bad thing.  Usually when we say "it wasn't personal," we are trying to justify a questionable or downright evil decision that we made for business purposes or for some reason *besides* pure hatred.  We say that it wasn't personal as a way to acknowledge that yes, perhaps we are hurting people, but that's just the way it goes... people get hurt, and we can be friends again, because I only threw you under the bus for business reasons, not because I don't like you.  And we think that makes it okay.  But here, God outlines a different philosophy.  Even going beyond the golden rule (Matthew 7:12) of treating others as we want to be treated, God illustrates in these verses and the verses immediately following that the way we treat others is equal to the way we treat God... if we treat others well, it is as though we treated God well, and if we treat others poorly, it is as though we treated God poorly.
I'm not saying that all businesses are evil, or that firing people isn't necessary sometimes.  Companies have ups and downs, and if someone isn't doing his or her job, there are consequences.  I'm also not saying that we're justified in taking personal offense to everything that people do or say.  I think what God does is different than that.  He recognizes that everything is personal, and needs a personal touch.  What I am saying is that maybe we should think about all of it more, and be less willing to sacrifice people for profit.  The philosopher Immanuel Kant taught something similar.  He said that we should only do those things that would make good universal laws.  So, for instance, if it were a universal law that everyone murdered, that would end badly... so murder is bad. :)  I think God's point here is along similar lines.  We should only do those things that will lead us to Zion, the ideal society, which is basically the kingdom of God.  He's trying to get us there.
Today, let's remember how much other people matter.  What we do in relation to them affects our relationship with God, and also our progress towards perfection.  As Neal A Maxwell said, "We are each other's clinical material."  Our interactions are how we learn what God has to teach.  Let's be more mindful and gentle and careful in our decisions about and interactions with other people.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Total Pageviews