An Essential Command

do-unto-others-picJesus’ ultimate rule is an explanation, an exegesis of the original command in Leviticus 19:18. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:18).

How do we know that? Matthew writes in Matthew 22:35-40:

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test 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 first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

In v. 37, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5. But in v. 39, Jesus quotes Leviticus 19:18. Thus, the Golden Rule is based on the love commandment. The command to do to others is based on the command to love others. To do to others is to love others. To do to others is the same as to love others. To do to others is equivalent to love others.

Jesus said, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). To do to others is the Law and the Prophets.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Law refers to the first five books of Moses—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Prophets refer to the: (1) Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings) and the (2) Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). The Law and the Prophets thus refer to the Hebrew Scriptures, the OT.

Now Jesus teaches that the Golden Rule is the Law and the Prophets. The Law and the Prophets is summed up in this Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is the summary of the Law and the Prophets. It is the essence of the Law and the Prophets. In other words, that is the whole point of the OT Scriptures—to do to others what you wish others to do to you. To do to others, therefore, is an essential command.

Conclusion

A deacon living in a Berkshire town was requested to give his prayers in behalf of a poor man with a large family who had broken his leg.

“I can’t stop now to pray,” said the deacon (who was picking and barreling his early apples for the city market), “but you can go down into the cellar and get some corned beef, salt pork, potatoes, and butter; that’s the best I can do.”[1]

Do not wait for others to do what we wish them to do to you. The kingdom ethic is a proactive ethic. Thus, do unto others what you want them to do to you. Everything you want others to do to you, keep doing it to them. This is sums up the Law and the Prophets—God’s Word.

[1] “Why He Did Not Pray,” Love for others sermon illustrations.” Cited August 9, 2015. Online: http://www.moreillustrations.com/Illustrations/love%20for%20others%201.html.

An Emphatic Command

Luke has the words, “And as you wish that others would do to 19_title-a-golden-ruleyou, do so to them” (Lk. 6:31). But Matthew has the words, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). Matthew adds two words in the Greek, panta osa, which means, “everything that.” (Gingrich) Matthew is more emphatic—“everything that you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”

The emphasis is also encompassing. Everything. All things. Matthew is not writing about a few things, but everything. He is not writing about some things we like, but everything. In other words, it affects everything in our lives.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate the word, “everything,” is the sacrifices of missionary William Carey. He left everything in England to make disciples in India. He pursued a calling that was everything to him. There, he labored for 44 years—without taking a leave of absence.

He gave everything to the Lord. When his son, Felix, decided to serve as ambassador of Britain to Burma, he sent a prayer request to friends. He wrote, “My son has chosen to be an ambassador of the king of England when he might have risen to the status of being an ambassador of the King of kings.”[1] That already tells you how he has given everything of his life to the Lord.

Carey lost almost everything. He lost his 5-year old son, Peter, to dysentery, and because of that, his first wife, Dorothy, to insanity. Carey would work on his translations, “while an insane wife, frequently wrought up to a state of most distressing excitement, was in the next room.”[1] His second wife, Charlotte, died after 13 years of marriage, followed by his son, Felix. One day, a fire in the print shop of the destroyed most of his translations in Sanskrit.

But he was a man who believed that God can do everything. His now famous motto was, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”

Jesus’ command is encompassing.

It also calls for an enduring action. Matthew uses the present tense in the verb, “do” (poieo). The present tense indicates continuing action. You keep on doing it to them. You continually do it to them.

Thus, Jesus’ Rule is—we are to do actively, rather than wait passively. The force of the positive command is the continuing act of doing to others in everything. It is the proactive act of doing good to others. It does not wait until others have done it to you. It acts by doing to others as you would have others do to you.

It is emphatic, encompassing, and enduring. Everything you want others to do to you, keep doing it to them.

[1] “William Carey,” GFA Missions. Cited September 2, 2015. Online: https://www.gfamissions.org/missionary-biographies/carey-william-1761-1834.htm.

[2] Ruth A. Tucker, “William Carey’s Less-than-Perfect Family Life,” ChristianHistory.net. Cited September 2, 2015. Online: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/1992/issue36/3627.html?start=2.

An Encouraging Command

imagesIt is a positive command—“Do to others.” Conversely, the negative command is—“Do not do to others.”

Last night, I was reading some “biblical” words from children.

“Noah’s wife was called Joan of Ark.

Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Amendments.

The Seventh Commandment is “Thou shalt not admit adultery.”

The Bible says a man is only supposed to have one wife. This is called monotony.

Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which is “Do one to others before they do one to you.”[1]

The Jews believed in the negative command—“Do not do to others.” The rabbi Hillel taught these words, “What is hateful to yourself, do to no other: that is the whole law and the rest is commentary.” (b. Šabb. 31a). It is found in Jewish sources—Tobit 4:15 and Sirach 31:15.

But Jesus’ rule is the more complete form for five reasons. One, the positive command can include the negative form. (Hagner) To do to others can include a negative element—not to do to others.

Two, however, the negative form cannot include the positive form. The negative form—do not do to others—cannot include the positive command, do to others.

Three, the positive form of the command moves you to do to others as you would want them to do to you. (Mounce)

Four, the negative form does not require you to do a thing. By not doing to others what you don’t want others to do to you, you need not do anything.

Five, the positive form calls for positive action—to do to others what you want others to do to you. It is not an “ethic of reciprocity.” But it is an ethic of positive action in obedience to God’s will. The negative form, however, is an ethic of negative give-and-take.

In our neighborhood, we would give special food to our neighbor friends, like special cakes, fruits, or delicacies. Our neighbor friends would reciprocate—giving us some fruits. When Jan Marie got sick, the doctor next door treated her without accepting payment. In return, we gave her a special gift on Christmas.

But we give in return to the things we receive. It is a give and take culture. It reflects the Filipino culture of “utang na loob.” (debt of heart)

Jesus is not commanding you to do to others because they do to you. He said do to others as you want others to do to you. Jesus is not requiring us to give and take. Jesus requires us to give to others as you wish others to give to you.

Do you want to be loved? Show love to others. Do you want to be treated well by others? Treat others kindly. Do you want others to forgive you? Forgive others.

[1] “Humorous Quotations from Children,” Religious Tolerance.org. Cited August 9, 2015. Online: http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_kid.htm.

Do Unto Others

goldenrule-274x300The Christian faith is founded on God’s Word in its final form—the Scriptures. It is imperative then that we study the written Word. Only through the written Word can we grow in our faith in God. At GGCF, we nourish your soul by expository preaching. In expository preaching, the point of the text is the point of the sermon. At GGCF, we feed the very Word of God.

Jesus said, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). Our text today is known as the “Golden Rule.” The title comes from a story about the Roman emperor, Alexander Serverus (AD 222-235). He was not a Christian. But he liked this rule so much. He thought it was comprehensive. So he had it inscribed in gold on the wall of his room. (France)

The Golden Rule is the climax of the Sermon on the Mount for two reasons. One, Matthew uses the conjunction, “so” (oun), which means, “therefore, consequently, accordingly” (Gingrich). The word, “therefore,” indicates a conclusion, a climax in this context. Two, Matthew begins with the Law and the Prophets in Matt. 5:17. He ends the Sermon with the Law and the Prophets in Matt. 7:12. Hence, the Golden Rule is the high point of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus then closes His Sermon with four exhortations in vv. 13-27.

The word, “therefore,” also connects this section with the previous one. In v. 11, Jesus speaks of the Father’s gifts to those who ask Him. “Therefore,” as we want God to give us, we are to give to others. In v. 1, Jesus teaches about judging ourselves first, before judging others. “Therefore,” as we want to be treated fairly, we should treat others fairly. In Matt. 6:14-15, Jesus talks of God forgiving us our sins. “Therefore,” as we expect to be forgiven, we are to forgive others.

Let’s go further back in the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. In Matt. 5:21, Jesus teaches that anger brings divine judgment. “Therefore,” as we want peace from others, we are to give peace to them. In Matt. 5:32, Jesus says that a husband causes his wife to commit adultery if he divorces her. “Therefore,” as you want your wife to avoid adultery, stick with your wife. In Matt. 5:39, Jesus talks about turning the other cheek. “Therefore,” turn the other cheek as you would have others do to you. In Matt. 5:44, Jesus speaks of loving our enemies. “Therefore,” love your enemies as you want your enemies to love you.

Thus, I have taken pains in showing you one thing. The Golden Rule is the summary rule of Jesus’ Sermon and of the whole OT.

Jesus taught this rule in the context of the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is the sermon on kingdom righteousness. Many have used the Golden Rule as a tool for harmonious social relationships. But the intent of the Golden Rule is not social harmony. Rather, it is the rule of kingdom relations. It is the lifestyle of the kingdom in its refined form. It is the sign of kingdom righteousness. It is the mark of Christian discipleship.