Tag Archives: Golden Rule

Today’s Scripture – August 9, 2017

Luke 6:27-31 (NIV) “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

This section of Jesus’ teaching about how to deal in the way of the kingdom with those who use their power, authority, or strength to cause harm to us. And, before their lives were over, Jesus’ followers would have ample opportunity to put these principles into practice.

In most areas of the world resistance, even escalating to armed resistance, is the normal response to oppression. But when the people of the kingdom are oppressed or persecuted, the twin agendas of love and kingdom growth and expansion are to take priority over self-defense. Love is to be shown when hatred is evident; blessing is to be given for ever curse received; and passionate prayers are to be prayed for the forgiveness of those who mistreat us. (These were clearly demonstrated by Jesus on the cross – Luke 23:34.)

In addition, non-resistance is commanded toward those actively exercising authority against the cause of Christ, because resistance and fighting can never turn an enemy into a follower of Jesus. So if someone strikes us, the command is to keep showing love, and to turn the other cheek. If someone takes our clothes, we are not to resist, just love and pray for them. And if someone takes what belongs to us, we must remember that it actually belonged to God anyway, and not set up an adversarial relationship to get it back.

The cap to all of this is the so-called Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you. In other words, even when wronged, we are to put ourselves into the other person’s shoes and ask ourselves, “If I was them, how would I want to be treated?” and then treat them that way. This applies whether the person is just someone we meet, or, as the context clearly indicates, someone who is actively persecuting us.

Many push back against this, figuring that it will only lead to our ruin and being continually being taken advantage of. But it is the same rule that Jesus Himself actively lived by, and his life was continually blessed! Admittedly, the way of the kingdom is radically different from the ways of the world. But, at the same time, the goals of the kingdom are radically different form the goals of the world.

Father, obviously Your ways are higher and better than the ways of this world. But they are so different that they do not come naturally to us. They seem too strange, almost too dangerous. Lord, if I am going to live effectively in Your ways, I need to be transformed in my mind and in my heart. Please work that complete transformation in me so that I can live every moment of my life in the ways of Your kingdom. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – October 6, 2016

Matthew 7:12 (NIV) “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

The “so” at the beginning of this sentence is a signpost pointing to Jesus’ completion of the section of this message that began clear back in Matthew 5:20 (NIV) with Him saying, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  After this point, Jesus will be turning the message toward His conclusion.

He completes this section by giving what is usually called The Golden Rule.  And it is an entirely appropriate completion of His current theme.  Jesus has been contrasting the current external standards of holiness practiced by the Pharisees and teachers of the law with the actual internal standards of the kingdom of God.  And the final contrast that Jesus draws is about the key virtue of love.

The Old Testament law included the mandate to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18), but in most people’s minds this had gradually degraded to more of an idea of ”be nice to people,” or “just do your best to get along;” something that, as Jesus points out (Matthew 5:46-48), even the pagans were doing.

Jesus was recapturing God’s original intent for this command.  From the beginning it was designed to be more than the pagan societies observed, which was typically the negative expression of the command, “Don’t do to somebody else what you don’t want them to do to you.”  Instead Jesus’ command, and even the original command is much more positive and active in its tone:  Love your neighbor as Yourself; do to others what you would have them do for you.

As Jesus points out here, love is not only an action verb, it is a verb that takes the initiative.  In addition to doing no harm, real love looks for opportunities to actively do good – to do on purpose for someone else what you would want someone to do for you – and to do it out of love itself, with no thought or expectation that the recipient of your love returning the favor.  Just as God causes His sun to rise and set on the evil and the good, just as He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, God’s people, the followers of Jesus, are to show love to everyone around them, even to those who don’t deserve it, and to those who can’t or won’t return the loving actions.

This “Golden Rule” is much more than a rule or an expectation.  It is a worldview, a mindset, an orientation of one’s life that actively looks for the opportunity to do the same loving actions for another that you would want someone to do for you.  That is a key way to show a true inner righteousness that far surpassed anything that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law had.

Father, there is no way that I can consistently keep this standard of living in my own strength.  I need Your love working in and through me – Your agape love that will naturally show that kind of selfless love to others.  Without Your love, I will always fall short in this area.  Thank You for the promise of Your love working in my heart, and for its fulfillment that I get to experience every day.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – March 7, 2014

Micah 6:6-8 (NIV):  With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Many today believe that God can be bought off with good deeds – that a certain number of positive actions will make up for the sins that one commits.  But God doesn’t trade that way in sins and atonements.  Every single sin is an affront to God and His love, and is completely deserving of death.  But, in His mercy and grace, God has provided a sacrifice to pay the death penalty for all who live in the world:  Jesus Christ, His one and only Son.  Because He had no sins of His own to pay for, God accepts the sacrifice of Jesus as the atonement for all who turn to Him.  That is a fact.

However, some tend to use Jesus as an ace in the hole.  When they sin, and those who think like this tend to sin regularly, they simply point to Jesus and claim forgiveness.  In this way they are much like the Israelites who didn’t worry nearly as much about sinning as they should, because they figured that all they had to do was to make a sacrifice to pay for that sin, and all would be well.

But real forgiveness is not just a clean slate that is now available to be dirtied up again.  Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, forgiveness is a genuine fresh start – an opportunity to do it right this time.  And God’s expectations are few and simple, as He pointed out through Micah, and later on through Jesus Himself.  They are achievable by those who want to meet them, especially since they now have the help of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit:

  • To act justly – to love others to the point that we treat everyone fairly, and make sure that they are treated fairly by others, too.  We must not only do justice, we must not tolerate injustice being done by others.  (Encapsulated by Jesus in the second greatest commandment – Matthew 22:39)
  • To love mercy – to treat others as we wish to be treated, helping to meet the needs of others as we would want our needs met if we were in their shoes.  To feed the hungry, clothe those who lack adequate clothing, visit the sick and lonely.  In general, to treat each person with the same love and mercy that we would want show to us if they were us.  (Encapsulated by Jesus in The Golden Rule – Matthew 7:12)
  • To walk humbly with our God – To love and serve God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, to serve Him only, and to obey His commandments.  (Encapsulated by Jesus in the Greatest Commandment – Matthew 22:38)

Those who say that these standards are too high, that they are impossible for real people to actually live up to, just lack the will to live up to them.  If anyone will simply commit themselves each day to walk in these ways, they will find God’s Holy Spirit inside of them empowering them to do all of these things and, through them, empowering their witness to a lost and dying world.

Father, thank You for this clear call to those simple things that will allow us to live in Your presence.  Forgive us for too often excusing ourselves, reasoning that Your standards are simply so high that we can’t actually be expected to live up to them.  And forgive us for overlooking that fact that, when we come to You, that You actually come and live in us, and can do anything in and through us that You want.  Amen.

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