I know many people who say they follow the “Golden Rule”. They say they live by what Jesus has taught in the Bible and they love others as they love themselves. Or they do to others as they would want done to them. Many of these same people consider themselves Christians just because they claim to follow this teaching. Is that all it takes in life? Is that all it means to follow Jesus Christ and thus this makes a person a Christian? Perhaps the most important question is, is that what the Lord Jesus means when He laid out this commandment, to just simply do unto others as you would have them do? Or is there more to this and more to being a Christian?
Let’s take a look at a few places where the Lord Jesus has said this.
27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36
Here we have Dr. Luke recording this account. In vs. 31 the statement appears. But in context, what is the Lord Jesus saying? Is He saying do good so you can have good back? Is He saying don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you? Or is there something bigger that the Lord Jesus wants those who hear to grasp? I believe the answer is in vs. 35-36. Let’s take a look at what Matthew records.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! 12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:7-12
Here in vs. 12 we have this command again. Matthew records it at the end of the Lord Jesus teaching His disciples about prayer and asking God in faith. Then vs. 11 leads right to the point of vs. 12 and vs. 12 to the point of this great sermon delivered by the Lord Jesus. Are you starting to see it yet? Is it about doing good to get good? Also in vs. 12 the Lord Jesus mentions the Law and the Prophets. This referes to the Old Testament writings of which the Lord Jesus has fulfilled. I pray you are starting to see. Let’s take a look at a few more places this “Golden Rule” is mentioned.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40
Again, Matthew records here the Lord Jesus answering a lawyer (scribe) when asked about the great commandment. The Lord Jesus gave him two. The second is the “Golden Rule” in vs. 39 and again He states the Law and Prophets (Old Testament) depend on this command. But wait, what is the first? What is the greatest? Let’s take a look at one more record of the Lord’s 2 commands.
28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
Here the Lord Jesus gives the same “Golden Rule” answer for the second, but the first He states slightly differently. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord”. What the Lord Jesus is quoting from is Deuteronomy 6 in the Old Testament. This is also the Shema that the Jews would pray daily, and still do. The Lord Jesus knew this and He was stating how important it is to obey this command over every command. He was stating here, and as recorded in Matthew, that there is no other God and He is to be loved with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This is the most important. And this God we are commanded to love is the God of the Bible. He is the same God of the Old and New Testament. To love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is to obey all that He commands. That is to obey all of the Bible and not just what we decide to obey. In deciding for ourselves we create a god in our image and we don’t obey the true God who created us in His image.
But what does that mean for the “Golden Rule”? This rule is not “Golden” unless we obey the first. We can not truly love others until we truly love God. We can not do to others as we would have them do until we understand the love of God and His grace and mercy. Notice in Matthew 7:11 the Lord Jesus talks about evil people giving good gifts to their children who show love back. God goes beyond and gives gifts to those who do not love Him to start. Those who do not love Him do not ask because their hearts do not love God. In Luke 6 the Lord Jesus is explaining how the love of God is unconditional. Giving to those who do not deserve and being merciful to those who deserve wrath. God wants us to be Holy and imitators of Him.
The point of the “Golden Rule” as truly taught by the Lord Jesus is not for human gain. It is not a simple guidline to go through life. It is not what Christianity is as many may believe it to rest only on this command. It is not the gospel. It is not any of these becuase it needs the Shema. It needs the person following the “Golden Rule” to submit to the will of the One true God. In order to do that a person must have their heart changed. They must turn from their sin of creating their own god and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to be forgiven and born again to know God.
What does this mean? The Lord Jesus became a man. He lived a perfect life of obedience, loving the Father with all His heart, soul, mind and strength, the way we are commanded to but can not. Through this He also loved neighbor. This we also truly can not do on our own either. Then He was crucified on the cross. This is the death you and I deserve for our sins. This is what all sinners, of which i am the worst, deserve. The penalty of sin is death. But God, being merciful, poured His wrath out on His Son. His Son, showing us how to truly love God and neighbor, laid down His life. The He defeated death rising from the grave after 3 days and He is now seated at the right hand of the Father ruling as King over heaven and earth. Now when a sinner believes that this life, death, and resurrection was for them, they are forgiven. His heart becomes regenrated to be able to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then inturn, they can begin to truly love their neighbor and do unto them as they would have them do unto themsleves. Then the repentant sinner will also recieve the grace of eternal life in paradise with the loving God of all.
This is GOOD NEWS. This is the GOSPEL!
I pray you recieve this message and truly love God so you can love neighbor and be a true Christian and a son or daughter of God.
It can’t truly be “Golden” without the true God.