Summary: Jesus is not just saying to refrain from doing to others what you wouldn’t want done to you, but He is saying do to others what you would have them do to you.
Treat Others The Way You Want To Be Treated
February 19, 2006
Lighthouse Assembly of God
Pastor Greg Tabor
This morning’s text: Matthew 7:12.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NIV
What we have just read has been called ‘The Golden Rule.’ I remember memorizing the KJV of this years ago as a child.
In his commentary on Matthew 1-7, John MacArthur, Jr. writes, “Every other form of this basic principle had been given in purely negative terms, and is found in the literature of almost every major religion and philosophical system. The Jewish rabbi Hillel said, “What is hateful to yourself do not to someone else.” The book of Tobit in the Apocrypha teaches, “What thou thyself hatest, to no man do.” The Jewish scholars in Alexandria who translated the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) advised in a certain piece of correspondence, “As you wish that no evil befall you, but to be a partaker of all good things, so you should act on the same principle toward your subjects and offenders.” Confucius taught, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” An ancient Greek king named Nicocles wrote, “Do not do to others the things which make you angry when you experience them at the hands of other people.” The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “What you avoid suffering yourself, do not afflict on others.” The Stoics promoted the principle, “What you do not want to be done to you, do not do to anyone else.” In every case the emphasis is negative. The principle is an important part of right human relations, but it falls short—far short—of God’s perfect standard.”
There is definitely a difference in Jesus’ statement here. He is not just saying to refrain from doing to others what you wouldn’t want done to you, but He is saying do to others what you would have them do to you. The NASB says, “…treat people the same way you want them to treat you…”
I. How would you like to be treated by others?
Perhaps you never thought of loving yourself as good, but it is a reality. When speaking to husbands in Ephesians 5:28 Paul explains to husbands that they should love their wives as they love their own bodies. We do care for ourselves, don’t we? Paul further states in verse 29 that no one ever hated his own body, but feeds it and takes care of it. We do take care of ourselves don’t we? Granted, some of us have ‘hated our body’ in the sense of wishing it looking better or was formed better, but from a quick glance at many of us you’d see we don’t have a problem feeding ourselves (maybe not the best foods) and we try our best to make sure we look good.
Now, you might say, what about the Bible’s negative view towards those who are ‘lovers of themselves’? Well, let’s read The Message Paraphrase’s version of 2 Timothy 3:1-5:
“Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.”
Verse 2 in the NIV refers to ‘lovers of themselves.’ You don’t have to study hard here on this or any of the translations out there to figure out that someone that is a lover of their self is a self-centered, self-absorbed person. They are into pleasure and instant gratification any way they can get it. This kind of person is godless. But this is not describing the normal self-love we all have. For we all care for ourselves and desire ourselves to be treated humanely. In dealing with the Ephesians 5 verses we just talked about, The Life Application Bible Commentary: Ephesians, says, “The fact that no one ever hates his own body refers not to self-centeredness but to self-preservation, the natural self-concern that causes people to feed and care for themselves.”
Now, back to Matthew 22:39 NIV, Jesus has just stated ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Think with me now. How do you want to be treated? You love yourself. You care for yourself. We know that. So how do you want folks to treat you? How do you want folks to talk to you? How do you want folks to be concerned?
II. How do you treat others?
Timothy is a prime example of someone that looked out for others. Philippians 2:20-21 NLT says, “I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ.” Timothy is lauded here as a man who genuinely cares about these people’s welfare. There was a genuine love for what Jesus loves in Timothy. He put others’ welfare as a top priority. His lifestyle was a model for what Paul said in Philippians 2:4 NIV, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”