Golden (Matthew 7:12)

Jesus has told us that God’s character is such that He always gives to those who ask, always reveals to those who seek, and always opens His door to those who knock. These truths are awe-inspiring revelations of God’s grace and care for His children. They speak to His kindness. They speak to His compassion. They speak to His mercy. To His long-suffering nature and His love for that which He made. These truths are a revelation of Him, as all Scripture is. 

And as does all Scripture, that revelation of Himself and His character as good to us likewise has a purpose! A practical application that Jesus does not want us to miss, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  Jesus statement in this verse is called the “Golden Rule”. An even more succinct version of this statement is Luke’s Gospel account of the same verse, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” 

The Golden Rule must never be taken as a prescription for subjective relativism. Our world takes Christ’s statement out of context and twists it to mean we can do as we want. But Jesus is not advising us to act as we see fit by and of ourselves. Taken with the prior verses in mind, we understand Jesus to mean that our Father is ever mindful and always responds to our limitations, faulty worldviews and brokenness out of His love and grace. Consequently – as our Father does, so we His children ought to do. 

This was not a new thought to the disciple of God. Long ago, Moses heard God’s Voice and wrote down the same directive, “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Moreover, “Parallels to this saying abound in the ancient world, in both Jewish and other sources. One of the best known formulations is the response allegedly given by Jesus’ contemporary, Hillel, when asked to summarize the Torah while standing on one foot: “Whatever is displeasing to you, do not do to your neighbor; that is the entire Law, and everything else is interpretation.” Of course, Hillel’s version is a negative expression of the same thought, whereas Jesus speaks to the positive. But the concept is the same. 

The commonness of this principle should not surprise us because one of the most natural rules of ethics is that a person extrapolates from his or her own worth to that of others, and hence values others as oneself […]; thus every person is morally responsible to recognize how he or she ought to treat every other person.” 

That is true of even those with a secular worldview. The disciple of God recognizes that God has considered them, and loved them, and forgiven them and taught them. So the disciple recognizes both their own worth before God, and the worth of Almighty God whom they represent. With such value in mind, how can we view another – who is also made in His image – as being any less so? Therefore, we are to treat others with the greatest of care, as we ourselves have been treated! 

As God’s people, we are given guidelines throughout Scripture for how to treat others, how to use our words, and how to control our thoughts. Yet we do not do this on our own. God’s Spirit now dwells in us—we are His temple (2 Cor 6:16). And He performs this work in us so that we may live as disciples at all times and in all places.

Aubry Smith

APPLICATION: Intentionality

How will you act as you encounter your next waitress/waiter? When you encounter your next gas station attendant? The cashier at the grocery store? These are all opportunities for them to see Christ in you, and you in Christ. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *