Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 18
Thesis: Operate by the "Golden Rule".
Introduction: In our studies of Jesus' "Greater Than Moses" sermon on the mountain, we have seen that the Kingdom of God is radically different from the kingdoms of men. We have seen that its great foundation stone is honestly considering others as of greater value than oneself.
We have seen that Jesus took that reality and pushed it to its outer boundaries so that His disciples could clearly see what it means to consider others as of greater value than oneself. He insisted that those who are to be His disciples must actually do this -- and the proof of it will be seen in the way they respond, not to their friends, but to their enemies.
He also went further than "theory". He insisted that His disciples "do good to those who hate them" and He outlined four major ways for them to do that: they are to seek the eternal good of those who seek their eternal condemnation; they are to seek God for the benefit of those who attempt to make them feel worthless; they are to deliberately yield to "judicially entrenched evil"; and they are to maintain their integrity even if it costs them all of their possessions and their pride.
Then He deliberately turned to the issue of actually "meeting needs". He said that His disciples were to give to those in genuine need without treating the giving as a loan to be repaid.
We have looked into all of these issues to some degree.
This morning we are going to turn to Jesus' "defining methodology" for the actual pursuit of the Kingdom's foundation stone. He has already commanded us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and to give to those in need with no strings attached. However, as we have seen, "loving", "doing good" and "giving" all have what we called a "defining context" and that makes the actual practice a bit of a problem.
Jesus knew that would be an issue. Therefore, He went one step further: He gave us a practical method for deciding what we should actually do. It is in our text (6:31) at a crucial place. It stands between His explanation of what He wants of us and His challenge to us to go beyond the practices of the kingdoms of this world. It is known as "the Golden Rule" and it gives a very practical guideline for actual practice.
This morning we are going to consider Jesus' command that we "do unto others as we would have them do unto us."
February 10, 2008
- I. Remembering the Context.
- A. The "Golden Rule" must be understood as a fundamental methodological guideline.
- 1. As a fundamental methodological guideline, it cannot be the last thing we think of when we are about to act, but the first.
- a. This means, first of all, that we are not free to act thoughtlessly when others are going to be affected.
- b. This also means that our first thought will be "how would I like it if someone did that to me?"
- 2. As a fundamental methodological guideline, it cannot be divorced from what the Scriptures teach regarding both how we pursue activities and which activities to pursue.
- a. On the day that He ascended into heaven, Jesus made it more than clear to His disciples that they lacked the ability to fulfill their identity as His disciples as mere men: He told them to await the power from on high that would be given to them in the Person of His Spirit.
- b. Everywhere in the Bible, every spokesman for God insisted that fulfilling the identity as a "disciple" meant pursuing those activities which He requires, not those which allow us to chase our own dreams.
- c. Thus, the "Golden Rule" becomes a primary, but not sole, issue of "method": the Spirit is going to be primarily involved; the words of God are going to be primarily involved; and the most helpful rule of all rules is going to be heavily involved.
- 3. As a fundamental methodological guideline, it cannot be treated as simply one of many things we have heard that have to do with how we are to act: it is to be the controlling consideration.
- B. The "Golden Rule" must stand between the instruction of Jesus and the way this world functions.
- II. Considering the Issues.
- A. There is a temptation to turn the "Rule" on its head.
- 1. The issue is not how others treat us.
- a. The overarching assumption of this context is that others will treat us badly because Jesus is addressing the issue of us and our enemies.
- b. Even when the circumstances of life pull inwards, away from Jesus' "outer boundaries" and we are dealing with those we consider friends, the issue is still not how they treat us.
- 2. The issue is not how we want others to treat us.
- a. In our natural, Spirit-less, hearts and minds, we often "wish" that others would do things to/for us that we would not even think of doing to/for them.
- b. The difference here involves the question of who is going to make the sacrifice.
- c. This focus upon our wishfulness is not the point.
- 3. This issue is how we are to treat others.
- a. This means that our thoughts are focused upon trying to figure out what we should do.
- b. This means that our fundamental question is: Would I like it if someone did that to me?
- B. There is a temptation to divorce the "Rule" from its place in wisdom.
- 1. It should go without saying, though it often does not, that the answer to our fundamental question cannot be a shortsighted foolishness.
- a. Example: should jurors ask whether they would like to be found guilty when the penalty is relatively severe before they decide whether they will find the person guilty? [Do you really want a lawless culture?]
- b. Example: should a parent ask whether he/she would like to be "grounded" before he/she decides whether to "ground" a child? [Do you really want your child to destroy himself/herself because you refused to help him/her develop some self-restraint?]
- c. Carnal wishes are not at issue; at issue is the Joy of Life.
- 1) All wishes, but one, are "servant wishes" and the question that we face in addressing them is not whether we will obtain an immediately pleasing result, but whether we will obtain the next link in the Chain of Life.
- 2) No one is a genuine disciple who continues to put his/her carnal wishes above those of Jesus.
- 2. It should also go without saying that the answer to our fundamental question must be subject to Biblical revelation as the fundamental source of true Wisdom in the pursuit of the "links of Life".
- a. This means that the only person who can really use this "Golden Rule" is a true disciple of Jesus who has already submitted his/her own "wishes" to those of the One Who died for him/her; all others will simply use it, if at all, foolishly.
- b. This means that the only person who can really use this "Rule" is one who has put some time in on the question of what the Bible says and what it means by what it says.
- C. There may also be a temptation to make the application of the "Rule" harder than it is.
- 1. If a person has decided to follow Jesus, it is the task of the Spirit of Jesus to give insight into the use of the "Rule" [Philippians 3:15].
- 2. More times than not, the answer is "easy".