From A Jane Austen Devotional
Following the Golden Rule
“Oh [Jane]! you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in any body. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.’’
“I would wish not to be hasty in censuring any one; but I always speak what I think.’’
“I know you do; and it is that which makes the wonder. With your good sense, to be honestly blind to the follies and nonsense of others! Affectation of candour is common enough;—one meets it every where. But to be candid without ostentation or design—to take the good of every body’s character and make it still better, and say nothing of the bad—belongs to you alone. And so, you like this man’s sisters too, do you? Their manners are not equal to his.’’
“Certainly not; at first. But they are very pleasing women when you converse with them. Miss Bingley is to live with her brother and keep his house; and I am much mistaken if we shall not find a very charming neighbor in her.’’
Elizabeth listened in silence, but was not convinced. Their behavior at the assembly had not been calculated to please in general; and with more quickness of observation and less pliancy of temper than her sister, and with a judgment, too, unassailed by any attention to herself, she was very little disposed to approve them.
—From Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth may be the most intellectual of the Bennet sisters, but Jane is the sweetest: “You never see a fault in any body. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.’’ In a nutshell, Jane looks for the best in others—and as a result, she invariably finds it.
Throughout Pride and Prejudice, Jane’s character reflects the golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31 NIV). This verse, spoken by Jesus, is the personal standard He set for dealing with others. Jane lives out this truth by employing a simple philosophy: if we want to be loved, we have to give love. Likewise, if we want meaningful relationships, we need to treat others with respect and esteem. Forgiveness, kindness, generosity—in all these areas, we must lead without expectation of reciprocity.
The benefit of following Jesus’ golden rule isn’t that we will automatically be rewarded for our efforts, but that we come to see and understand and appreciate the way Christ first loved us. It is almost too much to comprehend when we are living for ourselves; but if we choose to obey Christ’s command in doing unto others, we begin to walk in step with Him and His thoughts become our own.
Do you desire a life free from the expectation that you’ll always be treated well or get the outcome you think you deserve? Are your thoughts sometimes consumed by life’s unfairness? Focus on treating others as Jesus would. Your reward will be a newfound, heartfelt appreciation for how much He loves you.
“So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 7:12 RSV
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