Tit for Tat

What goes around comes around; live and let live; do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

These are all phrases for equality; for fair treatment of our fellow man; for living well, yet not living well at another’s expense.

Tit for tat. I’ll give unto you what you gave unto me.

Normally used in a vindictive mien, this three word phrase’s connotation is that of equivalent retaliation. Often used in game strategy, it simply means to respond in kind.

We see this in business with the handshake given in greeting. I reach out—tit—and you reach back—tat—in a warm and congenial manner.

However, if the meeting does not go well, and I treat you unfairly, you are justified in also treating me unfairly. For example, I strike a fair deal with you, yet months later, I undercut your pricing structure. In tit for tat, you are free to then undercut my pricing structure, and so on.

In true tit-for-tat fashion, I even expect you to do so.

Gas stations do this all the time, one lowering prices, knowing the station on the opposite corner will soon follow suit. And airlines. Anyone who flies frequently is aware of the power of the major players, from baggage fees to food service. Even daily fares for every airline can drop radically if only one offers severe discounts.

Tit for tat is biblical, and directly from the mouth of Jesus. We can find his words in Matthew 7:12, Mark 12:31, and Luke 6:31, all telling us to play fairly.

Tit for tat.

Even under the rigid constraints of the Old Covenant, Leviticus 19:18 says not to bear a grudge or take your vengeance on another, but to love that person as you do the one who looks back at you out of the mirror.

Paul addresses this issue very specifically in Colossians 4:1. He is speaking to slave owners, but his words are to us.

The masters of slaves in Paul’s day owned them hoof and hind; there were few laws restricting how they were to be treated. Only the most heinous and brutal treatment was condemned.

A Roman slave could not even speak up for himself in a court of law.

Yet Paul encourages tit for tat. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

Paul says it this way: Masters, give unto your servants good and fair treatment…

Yet, those words only give us the tit. Certainly, it is right and good that the master treat his slave well, but where is the benefit for the master?

That brings us to the tat.

Paul continues: Remember, you also have a master, one who resides in heaven.

Tit for tat. What goes around comes around. Live a life well-ordered and full of mercy, and let those you interact with each day have the opportunity to live in the same manner. Treat your business partner; your neighbor; your spouse; and your children in the way that you would want to be treated.

The Word of God goes so far as to offer us some suggestions:

Tit for Tat Suggestion #1:

Be positive. Hebrews 10:24.

Tell those around us at least one good thing they’ve done each day. If they live far away, text it to them.

Tit for Tat Suggestion #2:

Be patient and kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Count to three, then don’t say it. Then ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Then help.

Tit for Tat Suggestion #3:

Show respect. 1 Peter 2:17.

Imagine that the person next to you is your grandmother. How would you treat her?

Tit for Tat Suggestion #4:

Be sympathetic and tenderhearted. 1 Peter 3:8.

Just listen. Then don’t offer advice. Listen, cry along, and let them come back and do it again. For free.

Tit for Tat Suggestion #5:

Be merciful. Ephesians 4:32.

Put on their shoes. Have a meal with them. Get to know the person who’s offended you. Then decide if you want to punish them. Finally, remember, you are wearing their shoes.

Tit for Tat Suggestion #6:

Be generous with those in need. 1 John 3:16-19.

Once a month, leave a $50 tip. In ten years, you will not remember, but that waiter always will.

Tit for Tat Suggestion #7:

Honor one another. Romans 12:10.

Cook a cake for a neighbor, simply because they live next door. Meet the postman with a water bottle. Smile, and say, this is because you are special.

If the only rule we live by is the Golden Rule, then we will live well.

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Flashback Friday: Originally Published April 21, 2014 in Relationships

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