Read Obadiah 1
Focus on verse 5
Many years ago when our boys were younger, they had to learn how to get along with each other, which at times became a challenge. Possibly one of the places most likely to cause friction between the brothers was when we made long road trips to see family as this usually meant several hours of sitting together squeezed into the back seat of a vehicle.
We did our best to teach them how to respect each other and get along, and part of that was teaching them the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Our oldest seemed to catch on to the principle fairly quickly, but we soon discovered that his younger brother apparently needed some clarification. I do not recall the exact situation that precipitated the event, but it was at a time when the three brothers were sitting in close proximity that the middle one just up and smacked his brother in the face. We did intervened to prevent any retaliation, and upon asking him why he hit his brother, his answer was a very convincing, “he was going to hit me!” Exactly how accurate his determination that his brother was going to hit him, or how he knew if that was indeed the case, remains a mystery to this day.
Since then I have observed that he was not the only one who operates by a not so golden rule that states, “do unto others before they do unto you!” While it may initially seem to be a successful mode of operation, the problem with this rule is that it ultimately backfires.
In today’s reading the prophet Obadiah gives us the answer to why the “do unto others before they do unto you” plan of operation does not ultimately lead to success.
For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head. (v. 5)
The reason the not so golden rule doesn’t work is that ultimately you eventually reap what you have sown, and if what you have sown is “doing unto others before they do unto you” the day will soon come when the same will be done to you with a vengeance.
On the other hand if you treat others well, according to the Golden Rule, treating them as you would prefer others treat you, it is much more likely that you will be treated well in return. We could perhaps call it the law of “what goes around comes around”. Jesus said it this way, “…all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matt 26:52) I find this a sobering thought as I consider how to interact with the culture around me.