How to Not Be a Jerk
Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12
We’re going through some major changes at work and if I’m honest, whenever I hear of something new, my first thought is, How does this affect me? It’s not, Is this good for the patient? It’s not, Is this right for the organization? My first impulse is to wonder how I will benefit.
This natural self-centeredness is a life problem for me. In my addiction, I made choices that not only made me sick but sickened those closest to me. They didn’t choose it, yet they suffered. In the suffering, they wanted to know how I could be so hurtful. The painful answer was that I didn’t consider their preferences when I did what I did. I just followed my appetite, doing whatever I wanted. I was a monster.
Unfortunately, it’s natural for most of us to think of ourselves first. Because it’s natural though, doesn’t mean it’s right. In today’s passage, Jesus summed up God’s laws with this one rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated. Behave as you desire those around you to behave (my paraphrase).
This life rule, simple in concept yet profoundly difficult in execution, would have saved me from much misery and destruction, had I followed it. If daily, I would only first think of how my words and actions affect those around me, I would very often choose a different route.
Frankly though, this way of life isn’t easy. Treating others as I wish to be treated usually means sacrificing my self-will. In the case of addiction, it meant that I needed to do whatever it took to get clean. In the case of my marriage, it means that I must love my wife, looking to her needs before my own. At work, it means that I don’t put myself first, but rather, that I put patients and coworkers ahead of my selfish preferences.
If we desire to live as we were meant to live, then we must continually make a conscious choice to do for others as we’d like them to do for us. If we want love and kindness, we must show love and kindness. If we desire mercy and grace, we must be full of mercy and grace. This isn’t easy, but this is how to not be a jerk.