“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
A few years ago, after a life time of learning about God, his word and his ways, I came to an understanding that I should have realized all along. In truth, I did understand it, at least I understood it a little. What should I have understood? That God is inviting us into a relationship circle with him. That circle began in the infinite reaches of time past with just the members of the Godhead and now God invites us to join that circle as equal sharers in the blessing of what that relationship circle has to offer. There’s only one requirement for being part of that circle. Love everyone else better than you love yourself.
Jesus, in our focus text, is attempting, in the weakness of human language, to explain this principle. “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” In other places in the gospels this thought is expressed in the words, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We call this statement “The Golden Rule.” Here in Matthew chapter seven Jesus tells us that in these few words is embodied all the law and the prophets.
The Golden Rule demands that we be different that we’re naturally inclined to be. Sinful human nature is all about serving self. Even in our attempts to obey scripture our selfishness is apparent. Many times when complaints come to me about what’s happening or not happening in the church family there is underlying the complaint a selfish message. My needs aren’t being met. My worship experience is being disrupted. Too much is being asked of me. Me, me, me. my, my, my. I, I, I.
In truth, they’re usually right. Their needs weren’t met, their worship was disrupted, they were asked to do more than they were ready to do.
But here’s the thing. If we’re obeying the Golden Rule, if we’re prying our focus off of ourselves and making others the focus of our attention, like Christ did, we’ll never feel that too much has been asked of us. Sure there’s more need than we could ever meet on our own, but we’re never alone. Someone else is always there to help us lift the load. God is always present to help us, doing his part as we do ours.
The great controversy is deciding which rule is better, selfish sin or selfless righteousness. The rule of sin says that you’re better off it you take care of yourself. The rule of righteousness says that you’re better off if you take care of others. All the suffering that resulted from looking out for self first should have taught us that selfishness doesn’t work. In a sinful world righteousness doesn’t always get to bear its full harvest but Jesus has demonstrated that it can overcome the attacks of selfishness.
Think about it. Satan in his selfishness had Jesus nailed to a cross, and Jesus, while he was on that cross, still was able to minister to others: first by giving comfort and assurance to a thief, next by caring for his mother, and finally by asking that his executioners be forgiven.
Selfless love is the grandest, strongest, most precious thing in the universe. It’s also the most abundant. It flows unceasingly from the heart of God, and by his grace it can flow from yours as well.