How & Why We Need to Live Out the Golden Rule

Broken Glasses

We all know the Golden Rule. It is found in Matthew 7:12. There Jesus says,

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

While we have all recited this rule throughout our life, do we know what it really means?

For this is the Law and Prophets

In order to answer the question, we have to start with the last phrase, “For this is the Law and Prophets.” Later on in Matthew we come across a conversation Jesus has with a Lawyer who asks Him what is the greatest commandment.

In response to the question, Jesus says,

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.(Matt. 22:37-40)

It is important we start with this phrase because Jesus’ commandment in verse 12 is another way to summarize the command. We can’t do unto others as we would have them do unto us without first loving God and then loving others.

The reason we need to love God before we can love others has to do with our heart. Before our heart is penetrated by the gospel we are enemies of God. We don’t love Him, we hate Him.

After our heart is pierced by the gospel, a change takes place. We no longer see God as our enemy. Instead we love Him, which is crucially important because only after we love God, will we obey His command to love others and practice the Golden Rule.

Positive, Not Negative

The second thing we need to look at in order to understand the Golden Rule is the nature of Jesus’ command. His command is given in the positive, not the negative.

Instead of not doing what we don’t want done to us. Jesus tells us we are to do to others what we would want them to do to us.

In other words, if you want others to…

  • Serve you
  • Love you
  • Care for you
  • Give to you
  • Be nice to you
  • Respect you
  • Honor you
  • Listen to you
  • Learn from you
  • Hold you accountable
  • Comfort you
  • Counsel you
  • etc

…then you do these things to them. In the way we want to be treated, we are to treat others, which is the Golden Rule.

Easier Said Than Done

I know it is easier said than done. It is easy to not do what we don’t want done to us. For instance:

  • If we don’t want others to steal from us, we don’t steal from them.
  • If we don’t want others to hurt our families, we don’t hurt theirs.
  • If we don’t want others to aggravate us, we don’t aggravate them.

It is much easier for us not to do what we don’t want done to us because of the benefit we receive.

It is much harder, however, to do what we want others to do for us because we don’t always benefit. We may do and do, but never see any return. Here is why love is necessary.

True Love

True love is not built around our emotions, getting what we want, or what makes us happy. The culture defines love in that way. The Bible, however, defines love as self-sacrifice, which means we don’t always get what we want. When we are not getting what we want, it is harder to live by the Golden Rule.

The golden rule, however, isn’t about us getting what we want. Jesus doesn’t give it so we can be selfish. He gives it because He wants us to understand what it looks like to truly love one another.

Salt and Light

When we live out the golden rule, truly love others, we live as salt and light to the world. We are a witness for the gospel because we live in a way the world doesn’t because the world doesn’t give without getting.

Not only are we a witness to the power of the gospel when we live out the Golden Rule, but we also promote peace and societal flourishing. In other words, we make the world a better place, and give others a glimpse of what the world to come will look like simple by doing unto others what we would have them do to us.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you truly live by the Golden Rule?
  2. What would you add to the discussion here about the Golden Rule?
  3. Do you agree or disagree with my explanation and application?

The Gospel Takes Our Burden and Gives Us Rest

Bike Burden

Accomplishing a difficult task is burdensome. It wears on you, creates anxiety, headaches, and hardships. We aren’t, however, the first to experience burdens. People have been shouldering heavy burdens for centuries. Sometimes those burdens are self-inflicted, while other times they are man made.

The Burden of the Scribes and Pharisees

In Mathew 23, we learn the people were shouldering heavy burdens as a result of the scribes and Pharisees. In verse 4, Jesus says,

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” (Mt 23:4)

The imagery Jesus uses is that of a task master who carelessly ties the heavy packages their slaves or beasts would have to bear. Doing so made their lives harder than was needed.

That’s exactly what the scribes and Pharisees were doing. They carelessly laid burdens on the people. Burdens that made their lives harder than was needed.

How did they tie up heavy burdens?

They did so by adding additional laws to the Law of Moses. In order to keep people from breaking the actual Law, they built a fence around the Law. Not only then did the people have to keep the Law of Moses, but they also had to keep the additional rules of the scribes and Pharisees.

These additional rules turned times of rest, joy and celebration, times like the Sabbath and Holy Days, into burdens, creating anxiety and labor instead of rest and celebration.

When the people complained the additional laws were burdensome, the scribes and Pharisees did nothing to ease the burden. Instead they continued to pile more and more on the people, while at the same time creating exemptions for themselves.

While living under those exemptions, they weren’t willing to even lift a finger – to exert the minimal amount of effort – to help the people. Instead they remained unsympathetic. They did so because they didn’t care about the people. They only cared about the recognition they received.

Jesus, on the other hand, is completely opposite. His burden is light and He provides rest.

The Burden of Religion

So herein lies the difference between religion and the gospel. Religion – and what I mean by religion is thinking keeping certain rules merits you grace or favor with God – does nothing but create heavy joyless burdens.

I am not sure if you have ever read the story of Sisyphus. It’s the one where a corrupt king is sentenced to roll a heavy boulder uphill for all eternity.

Everyday he would work and work and work to get that boulder up the hill. After a hard days work, at the end of the day, when the man would sit back, admire his accomplishment and rest, the boulder would roll back down the mountain to the spot where he started.

You know what the worst part of this man’s lot was?  It was that at the end of the day, when he had accomplished his task, he couldn’t truly rest because he knew he had to get up and do it all over again the next day. He was stuck in a vicious cycle and he couldn’t get out of it.

That’s religion. It’s a vicious cycle. There is no freedom, only slavery. There is no rest, only toil.

You see, when you have to work for God’s grace, you can’t rest. It’s impossible because you always feel like there is more to do.

The Gospel Takes Our Burden and Give Us Rest

The gospel on the other hand is different. Instead of us working, Jesus works for us. His work resulted in death. Death on a cross. His work did something ours can never do, it satisfied God’s wrath.

So today if you are tired of working, if you need rest, if you need your load lightened, your burden taken, turn to Jesus. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He cares for those under His care. He offers freedom. Don’t toil any longer, don’t spend another anxious, joyless moment, instead turn to Jesus now and receive rest. For He is the only one who can give it.

Question for Reflection

  1. Have you found your rest in Jesus?

Resources

Sermon adapted from my latest sermon: Self Worship – How People Seek It and How We Can Avoid It

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Christians are Born Again Into Community

Gathered Community

Christians sometimes treat the church as if it were optional. They believe they don’t need the church, that they are fine on their own. But that simple isn’t true. Christians are designed for community.

When we believe in Jesus, we are born again. We are made anew. We become a new creation. Along with those things, I would argue we are born again into community.

Christians Are Born Again Into Community

Our God is a communal God. The Trinity has existed in community from eternities past. As God’s creation, we have been created in His image, an image we are supposed to reflect. Part of reflecting His image includes living in community. Community we are born again into.

Christians being born into community is exemplified in Acts 2. During Peter’s Pentecost sermon many were cut to the heart, so much so that they turned from their sins to follow Jesus.

Exemplified In Acts 2

After they turned to Jesus we read starting in Acts 2:42:

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

What did they do after they were saved?

They didn’t branch off on their own. They didn’t say thank you but no thank you to fellowship in the church. Instead, they immediately gathered together in community with one another.

As a gathered community, they learned together, supported one another, and did life together.

Not Just At Pentecost

Christians gathering into community at Pentecost is not an anomaly. It is a reoccurring theme. As you read through Acts, as well as Peter, Paul, and John’s letters you see Christians gathering in community.

Whenever a missionary shows up and people are saved, a community of believers form, who learn together, who support one another, who do life together. All because Christians are born again into community.

Conclusion

By nature Christians are a communal people. God set it up that way. As His people, we should honor God’s design. We should be apart of a community of believers.

We need others with whom we can learn. We need others to support us, to encourage us, to care for us. We need others with whom we can do life together. It’s imperative we are apart of and invested in a community of believers.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe Christians are born again into community?
  2. Are you apart of a Christian community?
  3. Do you see the benefits of being apart of a Christian community?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon Living in Community – Part 1