When I was a girl, I used to hear people say that we needed to “walk in other people’s moccasins.” I don’t hear that saying much anymore, but it’s a good one.
If we haven’t experienced what someone else has experienced (or walked in their moccasins), it is hard to understand their joys and sorrows–hard, yes, but not impossible.
When I first became a mama in 1979, I thought about the reality that I had given birth to a little human being. Yes, I was his mother; and yes, I was an authority in his life; but I also needed to treat him like the child of God that he was (and is).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us:
In everything, therefore,
treat people the same way you want them to treat you,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.
I realized that this little baby was one of the people I was to treat as I wanted to be treated.
The essence of every healthy relationship is two people treating one another as the other wants to be treated. That does not, of course, mean that we treat everyone exactly alike.
I remember a story that our preacher’s wife told me when Ray was a campus minister in Mississippi. Her husband had previously preached at another congregation which owned a home for the preacher and his family to use. Before they moved in, the congregation painted the house. That was nice. They painted both the living room and a bedroom (the one that would obviously be the one they would use for their son) pink! The wife of one of the church’s leaders said to our preacher’s wife, “I told them, ‘They won’t care what color it’s painted, as long as it’s painted.'” That wasn’t so nice.
A phone call with a simple question would have been nice: “We want to paint the house before you move in. Do you have any color preferences?”
Considerations and actions like such a phone call are at the heart of treating people the same way we want them to treat us. I might like a new pair of pink shoes, but it might not be so loving to buy a pair for my husband–no matter how cute or expensive or comfortable they were. The best time for me to visit my aunt might be at 9:00 on Saturday morning, but it wouldn’t be loving to go then if she always goes to the grocery store at 8:30.
These examples are obvious. However, truly treating people the same way we want them to treat us involves getting to know another person well enough and loving them deeply enough to find out what they want and need and prefer.
The essence of hospitality is making others feel completely welcome in your home. The essence of godly relationships is making others feel completely welcome in your life–whether that person is your spouse, your child, your parent, your sibling, your relative, or your friend.
One of the roadblocks to treating others the way we want to be treated is that old temptation we have experienced since we were little, bitty children–the temptation to be selfish. We are just too busy doing what we want to do when we want to do it to stop long enough to consider the needs of another person and to make the decisions necessary to treat that person the way we want to be treated.
Many women love having lots of shoes. Just think of all the moccasins we get to wear–our husband’s, our children’s, our mama’s, our daddy’s, our friends’. The more moccasins we wear, the better we love and the more we walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us;
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:16