It’s been called the Golden Rule for a long time, even though Jesus never called it that. It is definitely one of the most quoted statements from Scripture or from any other book to be found. I’ve read many times in business and leadership books where the rule is quoted and no reference is made to where it came from. Much of the time, I suspect the one quoting it had no idea who he was quoting when he reminded the readers of the golden rule. It’s found in Matthew 7:12 in the last part of the Sermon on the Mount. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
What if everyone around us practiced this rule as a way of life for them? What difference would it make in the world, in this country, in our state or community or even in the church or our family? Can you imagine what it would do for marriages if both husband and wife practiced the Golden Rule all the time? I suspect it would put divorce lawyers out of business. I also suspect there would be tons more happy and fulfilling relationships in the marriages. What if we brought up our children in an environment where they observed their parents practicing the rule as a way of life and that we taught them to follow it as their life plan in how they dealt with others in the family or just people around them?
It is interesting how a tragic situation, such as a pandemic will bring out of so many people the very best but for others it will be seen as an opportunity to get what they can from others no matter what it does to them. The only one that ever lived this rule all the time was Jesus, the one who gave it. If I determine to live by it as my standard of life, I will find myself failing and thinking more of me than of what I would plan or long to do. The challenge then is to get back up and resolve again to live my life thinking of how I can do the things that I would really wish others would do to me. Let’s take it apart and see if we can tell more about how it works in life.
“SO” is the beginning indicating it is the conclusion to things that have just been said. In the verses just before this Jesus told them to Ask, Seek and Knock so they can receive, find and have the door opened for us. To illustrate his point he asked them”Which of you, if your son asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” When tough situations bring out the best in us, it is like God does for us and like a good father does for his children.
“In everything” takes the plea of the Golden Rule and applies it across the board. It isn’t difficult to do good things for people who do good things for us. The real challenge of life is to do good things for those who either show no interest in us or who do us harm all the time. Jesus illustrated this principle to the hilt when he went to the cross to pay the price of sin for all people. He didn’t just die for a chosen few who were trying their best to do right. “He tasted death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). The result is the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people (Titus 2:11). Jesus’ great commission for his disciples is to go and make disciples in every nation or ethnic group, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and I will be with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20). The result is that as a follower of Christ we should in all situation for all kinds of people do to them what we would want them to do to us under the same circumstances.
That doesn’t mean that we always say “Yes” to every request. Sometimes we do the very best for others when we say “No” to help them grow and learn. Think about Jesus when he had fed the 5,000 with a little boy’s lunch and then the Jews began to ask for him to feed them all the time as Moses gave the Israelites manna in the wilderness. Jesus corrected them that it wasn’t Moses who fed the people but God and that he wouldn’t give manna but was giving himself as the bread of life. Imagine what it would have meant for you if you had grown up in a situation where your parents always gave you everything you wanted and allowed you to do anything you wanted. Would it have made a godly person of you? As parents our job is to bring our children up in the training and discipline of the Lord. So, I’m thankful to have grown up with parents who cared enough to say “No” when what I wanted to do wasn’t what was right or best for me.
“For this sums up the Law and the prophets.” Think about the Ten Commandments or all the laws and prophesies given in the Old Testament. What was the aim or goal of these commands? When it relates to our actions and treatment of others, it was that we would learn to treat others the way we would like to be treated. God longed to have people who loved him with all their being and loved their neighbor as themselves.
Think of a few ways we could all follow the Golden Rule as our pattern in our treatment of others during tough times in the world. We can be the givers, the helpers, the merciful ones who look for opportunities to serve those in need. We can be listeners to those who need someone to care enough for them to listen without condemnation. God will give us all opportunities to share this way of life with others. Let’s be like God who gives good gifts to those who ask Him.