Focus: The Golden Rule
Luke 6:31 (NKJV) And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
One of my favorite movies is, ‘The Ultimate Gift’. It’s the story of a spoiled young man named Jason, who is accustomed to having everything handed to him because of the oil fortune earned by his grandfather, who is known as ‘Red’. When the elder benefactor dies, the family assembles in a classic boardroom scene to hear the reading of his will. Jason is disrespectful and arrogant. He didn’t have a personal relationship with his grandfather. The only thing the old man ever gave him was money. Jason had a lot of resentment in his heart toward Red.
When Red learned he was going to die, he decided to do something special for Jason. Instead of handing him plenty of money to last the rest of his life, Red chose to give him a series of ‘gifts’ leading up to his inheritance. Each gift required Jason to do something benevolent and very uncharacteristic for him. The ‘gifts’ required Jason to step far outside his comfort zone. Jason was not a natural born ‘giver’. In the story, he almost quits many times. The challenge is intensely difficult for him because throughout his life he was never taught to think of anyone but himself. Jason’s grandfather became wealthy from a lifetime of hard work. He failed a few times and had to start over with nothing. Jason, on the other hand, never had to work a day in his life until his grandfather died.
Jason had some reasons to be rebellious—his father died when Jason was just a boy. Jason’s grandfather faced his own death feeling the sorrow that he hadn’t spent more time with Jason—helping him through the loss of his father. Red wanted to do something unusual that would cause Jason to experience the healing he needed in his heart from the losses he had suffered. Red also wanted Jason to learn what really counted in life. He wanted Jason to become a ‘giver’—and stop being a ‘taker’.
The movie is entertaining in every way—but also has some very sad moments. It’s painful for Jason to persevere through the requirements his grandfather attached to his ‘ultimate gift’. But, as the story ends, Jason is no longer just meeting the expectations of his grandfather—he is exceeding them. He has acquired a taste for sacrificial giving and reckless abandon. Jason has not only given up living for his own pleasure, but has learned to put the needs of others before his own.
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What if life was a game? What if you couldn’t advance in the game unless you gave something away or did something nice for someone else? What if the whole focus of the game of life was to see how much you could give away in your lifetime and how many acts of kindness you could do for others?
You get a great feeling when you do something nice for another person. It’s a ‘high’ of sorts. Studies have shown that performing acts of kindness can result in mental and physical health benefits. If you want to learn more about the positive effects of ‘doing good’, just do a search on the internet. There are plenty of facts showing improvement in calmness, reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation, less anger, better self-worth, happiness, and optimism. Doing nice things for others actually produces a ‘rush’ as a release of endorphin occurs. Research shows that endorphin is delivered to the spinal cord and brain through the blood when we perform acts of kindness and get physical exercise. Endorphin creates feelings of euphoria and power. This experience is a true and non-addictive ‘high’. What if we started focusing on getting that kind of a ‘high’ as opposed to any other kind of ‘high’?
When we’re depressed, we naturally spend more time thinking of our own problems and pain than other people’s. It’s easy to become self-absorbed. The magnitude of our circumstances or condition can cause us to close ourselves off from the needs of others. As the practice of concentrating on our own anxiety continues, we may become caught in a downward spiral of darkness. If we don’t get help or take steps toward self-help, the spiral takes us further and further from the light.
Everything in the Bible supports the philosophy of ‘The Ultimate Gift’. Mark 9:35 tells us how Jesus sat his twelve disciples down and told them if any of them had a desire to be ‘first’, they should become the servant of all. Over and over the stories and examples given in the Bible portray the true way to receive—is by giving.
Human nature wants to receive without having to give…as though all of a person’s problems would be over if they could just get the winning ticket to the lottery. Then they would be able to get everything they want. All you need to do is look up some of the stories of people who won their fortune with a lottery ticket to realize hitting that jackpot wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
The concept behind the Golden Rule is that you should think of others as if they were you. Living by the Golden Rule involves doing acts of kindness. But the essence of the rule is more than just doing nice things for other people—it’s doing something for someone else in the way you would want it done for yourself.
If depression was a game and the only way to win was by giving your time to someone more depressed than yourself—helping them with their problems—listening to their stories—doing acts of kindness for them…would you be moving ahead?
Declaration: I will find new strength by looking for someone to help who is in worse shape than I am. I will begin spending as much time as possible seeking opportunities to serve. I will make a conscious effort to ‘lose myself’, so I can win this battle.
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