No Outs—Not Even a Little One
He blamed his brother for his own poor choices and they rarely spoke again. He refused to help his brother in a time of need. He stood by, not lifting a hand to rescue a brother from the neighbourhood bullies. Now it was his turn.
It only takes 21 verses for Obadiah to describe what God is about to do to Edom for her attitudes and actions against Israel. The history goes back a long way—all the way to Esau and Jacob , for it was from these brothers that the nations of Edom and Israel were formed. Edom now stands condemned. The classic words of these verses are these: “As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head” (Obadiah 15, NIV). This is the judgment. A similar statement in the New Testament is delivered as a command: “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, NIV).
If we put the two together the truth is pretty obvious: Do for others what you’d like them to do for you because how you treat others will certainly be how you will be end up being treated.
We don’t always quote the first part of the statement Jesus made, “So in everything….” Those three words leave us without a single loophole. No room for just a bit of revenge, a touch of anger, a modicum of sharpness, a splash of frustration, or a brief word behind another’s back. No room for ignoring or distancing or lessening affections.
Recently, a well-known TV preacher hit the news when he was quoted as saying that it was okay with God if a spouse divorced a partner suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It was “kind-of a death” so he claimed it qualified as an escape clause under the “until death do us part” section of the marriage vows.
Obadiah and Jesus might take exception to that. We are left with no outs. “Kind-of” doesn’t cut it. In everything, good, bad or ugly, treat others as you’d like to be treated. And before you treat them in any way, remember to expect that God will return the favour—good, bad or ugly.
That’s a promise.