When I was having trouble with someone on the playground or at school, my mother used to tell me, “Don’t worry, Mary Kay. What goes around comes around.” Mothers have a lot of wisdom that we don’t necessarily recognize until we are older. I have to admit that I never really knew what she was talking about back then!
Like a model train under the tree, the things we do and say have a way of returning to us, and not always as we would expect. Like many common “wisdom sayings,” the Bible supports the validity of this “boomerang” effect, in both welcome and unwelcome situations.
The Way We Look at Others
Because we don’t all live according to 1 Corinthians 13 (the “love” passage), we might find ourselves being proud, or envious, or angry with those around us. It is unfortunate when we take those bad attitudes and “put feet on ‘em” with our words and actions.
Cliques and splinter groups are nothing new in the church. They have existed for centuries. If you think about it, these problems go all the way back to Cain and Abel, who each had their own way of doing things, but Cain took his anger and envy too far and slew his brother, Abel. Cain’s anger and hatred of his brother resulted in Abel’s death. The “train” returned to Cain when God judged him, as he had judged his brother, and marked him so all people would know what Cain had done.
Paul told the believers in Galatia, “If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another” (Galatians 5:15). The things we say are more than mere words. They can take a life of their own. Negative, judgmental comments injure feelings, splinter relationships, and can destroy lives, and they will affect us as well.
Remember the story of Megan Meiers, who committed suicide because she was taunted on the internet? The mother of a former friend invented a fake identity of a young man, who contacted Megan and built a relationship, then turned on her, calling her names and saying “the world would be a better place without you.” Not-yet-fourteen-year-old Megan ran up to her room and took her own life.
Our words have power to build up and to tear down, to support and to destroy. The comments we make about others will come back to us, for good or bad, as we have sent them out into the air. Bullies tend to think they will always be on top; however, as Paul says, we could be consumed by one another. What we give away will come back to us eventually.
Jesus taught that “in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2). Friends, our words and attitudes affect not only those around us, but they affect us, as well.
In the economy of God, what we give away comes back to us, for good or evil. If we treat others with love, kindness, and compassion, we ourselves will receive the same from others and from God. However, if we spend our days and nights judging, criticizing, and treating others harshly, we will receive the same from others around us.
More importantly, the way we talk, think, and act affects not only our relationships with others, but the people we will become. Consider your daily thoughts. Tally how many of your thoughts are positive and uplifting, and how many are critical and judgmental. Whichever you entertain most, this is the type of person you will become. Our thoughts, words, and actions come back on us from the outside (other people) and the inside (changes to ourselves).
What to do? How can I gauge my lifestyle so that what comes around is beneficial? “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). The Golden Rule is still true today. Because I belong to Christ, I need to treat others with respect, love, and forgiveness, even when they don’t deserve or want it.
When we live according to the Golden Rule, the “comes around” that we receive may not always come from that person, but it will come from God. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). And in the process, we will be changed more and more into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. As James said, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right” (James 2:8).
Care for others and you are caring for yourself. Treat others with respect, and you will learn to respect yourself. Show love to others, and you can’t help but love yourself. And just think how that will affect this crazy world in which we live. It can’t help but make our world a better place in which to live while we wait for our Savior’s return!
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church