Summary: Lesson 16 on the Sermon on the Mount. The Golden Rule.
Fix Your Rule
In the old Soviet Union there were very few laws about factories polluting the water. That was with good reason because one of the few laws they did have was that any factory which dumped chemicals back into the river must do so upstream from its own intake pipes. In other words, whatever the factory dumped in the water was going to come right back into it before it went any further down stream. It was amazing how much this simple rule did to cause factories to clean up their own pollutants.
What would happen if we knew that everything we put out would come back to us? We often say that what goes around comes around, but what if that was a rule, not just a principle? What if you knew that every careless word or deed would be returned to you almost immediately? Wouldn’t that change the way we act? Jesus gives us a positive version of this rule to help us act properly. He encourages us to make sure what we give out to other people would be okay for us to get back from them. Matt 7:12 “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Now we’ll spend most of our time this morning looking at some specific words in this passage. The Golden Rule has always been popular. In fact, it is called the Golden Rule because a Roman emperor, Alexander Severus, had this saying of Jesus engraved on his wall in gold. He loved this saying and used it everywhere and declared it to be a good rule for all men to follow. But sometimes, we think we know something so well that we don’t really look at it. This morning we are going to closely examine this rule and see if we can learn something new. So let me encourage you to open your Bibles and open your minds. No matter how long you’ve been a Christian or how many times you’ve heard the golden rule, let’s look at it again this morning and try to see it fresh. We’ll start with a few key words.
THEREFORE – Always ask what it’s there for. It links the Golden rule to the entire Sermon on the Mount. In other words, Jesus is saying, “because of all this teaching you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is the high point of the sermon. Everything from here on out is conclusion - Jesus sums up the entire sermon in this point. He has been talking about changing your life and now he says if you really want to make changes to the way you are living, this is how to do it. In its simplest form, this single rule is obedience to God. That’s what Jesus means when he says this is the law and the prophets. This is the second command, love your neighbor as yourself. Remember the first command is to love God. Jesus says this is what it means to love God. Therefore. It’s a pretty important word in this passage, but there are some others.
WHATEVER – popular word with young people. your Bible may say whatsoever. The NIV says “in everything.” This is all of life here. Jesus is not just talking about in worship service or around the house to your family members. This is everything you would want done to you in any context. If you would like someone to hold the door for you when you have your arms full, make sure you do that for others. If you would like someone to deal with you fairly in business and take good care of you when you trust them, then be a trustworthy merchant. This rule is as broad as your life. It covers everything.
WANT – The New King James uses the word want to describe these actions. Whatever you want people to do for you. The New American Standard update says this applies to how we treat people. What I want you to see is that it goes way beyond just meeting needs. It is the obligation of every human being to try to meet the basic needs of another human. We should all try to feed a starving man or give shelter to those without, but this addresses more than just needs. Don’t think that feeding the hungry fulfills the Golden rule. This rule means we go the second mile. It has to do with day to day interaction with the people around us. This rule is about life at home, life at school, life at work, life at church. It’s about a quality of life. I want people to treat me respectfully, therefore, I should treat others with respect. I want people to trust my judgement, therefore I should trust theirs.