The disciple of God cannot help but notice that way back in the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Now concluding His teaching, Jesus says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” The entire section between these two statements – from chapter 5 verse 17 to chapter 7 verse 12, is about a right interpretation of the Law and a right application of the Law. His final summary on the matter – what we call the “Golden Rule” is an easily memorized practical application point of the whole.
The importance of that fact must not be lost. Barclay wrote, “This is probably the most universally famous thing that Jesus ever said. With this commandment, the Sermon on the Mount reaches its summit. This saying of Jesus has been called ‘the capstone of the whole discourse’. It is the topmost peak of social ethics, and the Everest of all ethical teaching.” Likewise, Warren Wiersbe wrote of the wide reaching application of this truth, “This great truth is a principle that ought to govern our attitudes toward others.[…] It must be practiced in every area of life. The person who practices the Golden Rule refuses to say or do anything that would harm himself or others. If our judging of others is not governed by this principle, we will become proud and critical, and our own spiritual character will degenerate.”
Yet the application is broader still. AW Pink said “In the practice of this golden rule Christians are to consider not only how they would be dealt with by men, but by God Himself, thereby elevating the precept high above the ethics of the heathen. Whatever usage we expect to meet with at the hands of God, the same in our measure must we dispense to others. How can we expect God to be merciful to us if we be merciless unto our neighbour? How can we expect Him to deal liberally with us if we are eaten up with selfishness? Let us not forget that whatever need others have of us, the same need have we of God. According as we sow sparingly or bountifully, so will our reaping be (2 Cor. 9:6). I am therefore to consider how God will deal with me if I am rigid, severe, and demand the uttermost farthing from those in my power.”
Indeed. How else shall we expect God to respond to us? Matthew Henry noted long ago, “Fitly is the law of justice subjoined to the law of prayer, for unless we be honest in our conversation, God will not hear our prayers […]. We cannot expect to receive good things from God, if we do not fair things, and that which is honest, and lovely, and of good report among men. We must not only be devout, but honest, else our devotion is but hypocrisy.”
So it is. To expect to be treated by God differently and better than the way we have treated others is ultimately the most unfair and unjust thing we could expect from Him. Doing so is not unlike the dishonest manager expecting to be rewarded for holding the post of manager, knowing that their dishonesty has been exposed. Further, to be treated by God as we have treated others is perhaps the fairest and most just thing we could expect from Him. Though He will certainly treat us according to His character and not according to ours, to expect better than we have done is to presume much, for it was not without reason that the Lord said, “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” The Christ-follower therefore understands that treating others better is not merely a nice option, but ultimately part of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Ultimately, we must treat others the same way God has treated us.
We are to be mirrors of grace to others, reflecting what we have received ourselves.R.C. Sproul
Think back over the past week. How have you treated others? Let us repent of doing anything less than treating them as Christ would treat them.