I am well aware that the Bible commands us to leave revenge in the hands of God (Rom. 12:19), but you gotta love this story …

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of Alan Ralsky. Anybody? I didn’t think so, but you are quite familiar with his handiwork.

Ralsky is responsible for a whole lotta spam—not the questionable meat product—but the spam that invades your inbox. Every. Single. Day.

The first email spam dates back to 1978, but spam as we know it didn’t become commonplace until the mid-90s. As more people connected to the world wide web, marketers saw the potential for making money and, … hello, here came the spam.

That’s where Alan Ralsky comes in. In 1992, he also saw the potential of making money via email. So he jumped on the spam wagon. But if you’ve got the ability to hit 10 inboxes, why not make it 100? Why stop there? Make it a thousand … no, a million. That still wasn’t enough for him. Ralsky was sending out 250 million emails. Every day.

If you wonder who falls for those email offers, apparently somebody does. It works. Ralsky was able to buy an 8,000 square foot house. He paid for one wing of the house with a single weight-loss email campaign.

How do we know this? Ralsky bragged about it. In 2002, The Detroit Free Press published an interview in which Alan Ralsky bragged about his exploits and the money he made.

This is where the story takes a turn. Some anti-spammers saw the article, read about the huge home, and did some investigative work. They not only found his home’s address, but they found his phone number and email address. These anti-spammers then posted this information on multiple websites—and it took off from there. People reading this information took it upon themselves to sign Alan Ralsky up for every conceivable mailing list out there.

Ralsky’s mailbox was overwhelmed with junk mail—literally tons of mail. Every morning, his email inbox was maxed out. So Ralsky did what the rest of us do: complain. But that’s about all he could do.

And the mail kept coming.

You’re likely familiar with the words of Jesus, commonly referred to as the Golden Rule.

“Whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them” (Matt. 7:12).

There’s an older version of that idea, and it came long before Jesus. Ancient Rome, ancient Greece, ancient Persia, and all the way back to the ancient Egyptians had some form of this truth—but it always stated in the negative.

Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.

That’s the principal Alan Ralsky learned the hard way. And we have been victims of his failure.

But that’s not the point of this blog. Rather, I want to focus on the way Jesus said it. I’m sure many of the Jewish people who first heard Jesus speak these words in the Sermon on the Mount were familiar with the saying from other cultures—don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you. But Jesus turned that statement on its head. He didn’t state it in negative terms; He put it in positive terms. He put it in terms of love.

Do you hear the difference? The old adage, Don’t do to others …., simply calls us not to do harm, but Jesus stated it in terms that go the second mile. Don’t just avoid doing something harmful to another person; go the second mile and do something that benefits them. That calls for a degree of mercy, grace, and love.

  • The old adage keeps me from setting my neighbor’s house on fire.
  • Jesus calls me to help my neighbor see that his house doesn’t catch fire in the first place.

  • The old adage keeps me from joining in the office gossip about a co-worker.
  • Jesus calls me to step in and speak the truth that would squelch the malicious talk.

  • The old adage keeps me quiet so I don’t say anything that might make someone feel uncomfortable or offended.
  • Jesus calls me to step outside my comfort zone and tell someone about the love and salvation found in Christ.

Jesus gave us a far better rule to live by. It won’t stop the onslaught of email spam, but it can bring an avalanche of love and grace into the lives of others.

You could use that avalanche of love and grace—and they could too.

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