The Golden Rule
“’So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.’” (Matthew 7:12 NIV)
“Do to others what you would have them do to you.” This simple eleven-word sentence did not just show up in a collection of random sayings somewhere. No less than the Son of God authored it—and he said it “sums up the Law and the Prophets.” What an amazing claim!
If you have read the Old Testament, you know that it is lengthy (883 pages in my Bible), complex, and even confusing in places. Some of its laws seem terribly irrelevant. For example, what is so bad about wearing clothes woven of two different materials (Lev. 19:19)? Most of us do it all the time and cannot imagine why we shouldn’t. Some Christians have stopped reading the Old Testament altogether (except possibly the book of Psalms). Others, however, have gotten tangled up trying to apply Old Testament practices to New Testament Christianity, trying to “claim the blessings of Abraham” or “restore the tabernacle of David.” They ignore the wise guideline that says if a law or principle goes without reinforcement in the New Testament, it can safely be dismissed. Only the truths repeated under the New Covenant—such as those forbidding murder, adultery, lying, and profanity, to list just a few—are binding upon us as Christian believers. We live in a different age; we breathe different air.
But we cannot shelve the Old Testament entirely. Jesus certainly didn’t. He came to fulfill the law, in fact. And in a stroke of absolute genius he said, in his Sermon on the Mount, that he could boil down the 883 pages to just one sentence. He could sweep all of “the Law and the Prophets” into a single, compelling directive that would revolutionize society. He could summarize all of Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and the rest in this brilliant guideline.
To please God, we do not have to spend years in theological training. Neither do we have to master some thick rule book that covers each and every situation. What we have to do is remember, every moment of every day, to treat others as we would like to be treated. As the apostle Paul put it, “Love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10). Love is at the core of what a godly life requires.
If we Christians would, through the grace of God, conscientiously obey this one sentence, we would have covered the essence of God’s desire for us. What a difference this would make! It would help us grasp that God’s greater blessing for each of us is built on a foundation of selfless love.
-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted from You Were Made for More)
Read Matthew 7:7-12.