Summary: This sermon focuses on the Golden Rule and how we are to aply it in our lives
The Gold Standard
In 1860, a lithographer named Milton Bradley decided to invent a board game where people by playing it would learn life lessons. They would learn about the risks and the rewards in life and decisions and consequences. It was originally called “The Checkered Game of Life.” It was a checkered board game and started at birth moving along through the various stages of life. With each step there was an opportunity and with each opportunity a cost associated with it or a potential reward. It was designed to teach people about life. 100 years later in 1960, the Milton Bradley Company issued a redesigned game with little tiny people and cars and a spinner. That’s the game that most of us remember playing at one time or another. How many of you have ever played the Game of Life?
During this series, we’re going to look at seven life lessons revealed in God’s word. These are fundamental lessons in life and God designed us to live by these lessons. And when we don’t live by these lessons, then life becomes abundantly more difficult. Some may be familiar but knowing them and practicing them are two different things. Take a hammer and use the claws to hammer in a nail. The hammer was designed to be used a certain way. Now when you use it this way, it will take you much longer and you might just lose a few fingers in the process. But if you use it in the right way, it just makes things simpler. You were designed a certain way and when you live life in that way, it becomes much simpler and life just works better.
Our Scripture lesson today is the Golden Rule we have all learned as children. We may not know it came from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus gives this teaching but we knew this passage. But this lesson is not unique to Christianity. It predates Christianity and appears in every religion, philosophy or system of ethics. The version that Jesus gives us is different from the way it appears in every other place. Confucious put it this way, “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.” Virtually every other statement of the Golden Rule looks like this. Jesus transformed this to say, “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” What’s the difference? Confucious would have us refrain from doing things to others while Jesus would have us positively do what blesses to others.
Think about that for a moment. What would that look like? If you saw a person on the elevated expressway standing in the rain on the side of the road with their hood up and just shaking their head, what would Confucious tell us to do? Get as far to the left lane as possible so as not to hit them or even chance splashing water on them. You would have refrained from doing harm but you would not have actually helped the person. Jesus on the other hand would have us stop, get out and do whatever we can, whether it be call for help, try to fix the car if you know how or to hold an umbrella for them. It’s not enough to do nothing according to Jesus. We must not only refrain from doing harm, that’s implicit in the Golden Rule, we must also seek to do positive good. John Wesley put it this way: do all the good that you can, everywhere you can and as often as you can to everyone you can.
Jesus summarized all of the OT Law with two commands: Love God with all of your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. When you think about it, loving your neighbor as yourself is the same as the Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So how do we live out the Golden Rule: by doing the loving thing. Love in the Scriptures is not a feeling but an act or way of living. It is practicing loving kindness to others.
Now we know the Golden Rule but we also have a difficult time living it. First, sometimes we’re just in too much of a hurry. It’s not so easy, we have to really think about it. But that’s not enough, we have to really think about other people. Paul puts it this way in the book of Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” The people who live the Golden Rule live a life of always putting the needs of others ahead of themselves. And that may be the most difficult thing of all about the Golden Rule. Second, we live in a selfish society which constantly tells us life is about you, your needs you’re your desires. Very rarely are we encouraged to think about others. And even when we try, it can be difficult. Adam Hamilton tells the story of taking his daughter’s car in to get repaired and he was discussing with the attendant whether something was under warranty or not. And so he said, if this was your daughter and her car, what would you want me to say? The gentleman looked at Adam and said, If you were the Owner of this Dealership what would you be saying about this? The Golden Rule cuts both ways and perhaps the hardest thing is to look at it from the other person’s perspective.