“Remember the Golden Rule”. This is a a common encouragement in society and something described by people as their ethic they live by. In truth, it is not commonly followed or this world would be a much nicer place.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Here I want to draw out the verse in its entirety and in context of the surrounding verses. My hope is that we can take this command of Jesus as more than just a platitude. It is the nature of fallen man to have blinders that keep them from rolling this. The emphasis from the “Gospel of Nice” taught in post-modern moral relativism is that being likable to ourselves and others should be our motivation. But really, this should draw us to loving God which involved being a four-letter word—-holy.
First, in recent verses before this one Jesus talks about not judging from a self-righteous perch and asking God for spiritual goods from an attitude of knowing the grace of a loving Father. The former will teach us to treat “others” without prejudice as we learn from the story of the Good Samaritan. That story teaches us that our neighbor is whoever we are in contact with and not just someone that looks and talks like us.
Second we have in a preceding verse a picture of grace we can receive. In turn a theme through the entire New Testament was that just as you freely receive you should freely give. Sure there is a reality that we are broken people and need God’s forgiveness but we have a model in the Father to go by.
But getting back to showing this verse in its context we can see that ones obedience to this command is a part of a greater picture of holiness in light of what God had been doing on the earth in what theologians call salvation history. “This is the law and the prophets” is powerful because when paired with the totality of the New Testament we can see that loving others unconditionally can best be contextualized in Jesus being the incarnate Deity in fulness. John 1:17 says, “The law was given through Moses and the prophets. Grace and truth were realized in Jesus Christ”.
Through the writings of Paul we seen a gauge for challenging our faith in God when paired with lived out filial love. Paul wrote that he yearned to “know Him in the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship of His suffering”. Does one say that they are on that journey? How are you doing on your “do to others”. To know Jesus as ones personal Lord and Savior is a beautiful but is only a catch phrase if you do not love your neighbor as yourself.
The Apostle John lays down the gauntlet even more. “The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:16-18).
Often I write “What is stopping us?” I can’t say that I have figured it all out but hope some of these cause one to think. Are there nuance on how to do right by the other 7 billion people in the world? Yes. But clearly is starts with sharpening the instruments of our eyes, hands and feet so we do at least something when the times come.