The Golden Rule

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.                                Matthew 7:11-12 NLT

Some time ago, when I was preparing a study of Matthew 5-7, often known as “The Sermon on the Mount,” I was a little non-plussed when I came to the second and third sentences in the passage printed above. “Really?”, I thought. Jesus had clearly implied in 5:17-19 that what was going to follow was the correct interpretation of the Old Testament (the Law and the Prophets). Now at the end of that lengthy discourse, could everything he had said in the ensuing two and a half chapters be subsumed under “Do to others….?”

As I have thought about this question in succeeding months and years, I have come to the conclusion that the answer is “Yes.” What is the human problem? It is self-centeredness. That’s what happened to us in the Garden. We were made to be God-centered, and thus able to be other-centered, but in that tragic hour, we turned away from God, and the result was a turning inward to ourselves.

Why is that? Well, if God is truly the center of your life, you know your needs are supplied. But if he is not the center, who supplies your needs? You! You can’t trust other people to do it, that’s for sure. If God is your center, you can step aside for someone else to move ahead, as you hope they might do for you in a similar situation. Ah, but suppose they don’t, what then? God will take care of you. If God is your center, you can give yourself away. That’s what the Old Testament is all about!

We see the destruction all around us today of what was once the American spirit of generosity. What is happening? What is happening is that the momentum of the great awakenings of the past in which people trusted their lives to Christ and could therefore afford to “Do unto others….” is fast running down. What to do?  Say it again, “Lord Jesus, you are the supplier of my needs – not me, and not them – and in the riches of your grace I am going to be a giver, not a taker.” My Dad said it this way, “You gotta think about the other fella.”

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