Today in the Orthodox Church we honor the Holy Prophet Obadiah who said:
“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.” (Obadiah 1:15)
That we will be treated or judged according to how we treated or judged others is a common tenet of the Holy Scriptures both Old and New. Not surprisingly, the Lord Jesus Himself expresses an idea similar to Obadiah’s:
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:37-38)
The teaching involves behavior we initiate – our actions towards others rather than our reaction to others. For if the statement were treated as guiding our reactions to others it could be understood more like the notion of an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, which Jesus rejected:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)
How we treat others (not just react to them) is supposed to be based in love and not in vengeance, retribution or getting even.
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)
Love is not an emotional noun in Jesus’ teaching but an action verb. We are to initiate love towards others, not just react to them.
“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).
“Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).
The 3rd Century martyr Origen says this idea of treating others as you would want them to treat you is as close to a natural law as we can get. It just makes sense, or better yet, it is just and makes sense.
For what could be nearer to the natural moral senses than that those things men do not want done to themselves, they should not do to others? (COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS Books 1-5, p 151)