A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

April 29, 2012

Matthew 7:12

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

     Commonly known as The Golden Rule, this passage of Scripture is not unique to our Christian faith.  Jesus was not the only religious teacher to expound upon it.  Hillel, a renowned Jewish religious scholar and rabbi, was born in Babylon in 110 BC, and eventually lived in Jerusalem during the reigns of King Herod and the Roman Emperor Augustus --- not exactly favorable times for the Jews living in the land of Israel.  His teachings recognized brotherly love as the fundamental principle of Jewish moral law.  And Jesus proclaimed it as part of the foundation of faith in Him. 
     But the principle also occurs in other religions, including Confucianism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.  This shouldn't surprise us, because it is a natural tendency for human beings to compare their own worth against that of another.  Because we do that, every person is morally responsible to recognize how we should treat another person; there is no excuse.
     What Jesus is saying here is that if you can practice this basic principle, then you will fulfill the essential truths as written in the Torah and by the Prophets, which constitutes the Old Testament.  Jesus says that this simple verse summarizes the entire call to action that God expects of us.  It's that simple!
     Matthew records that Jesus expressed it again, in Chapter 22:37-39.  When challenged by the Pharisees, to name the greatest commandment of the Law, Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."
     While our passage today is known as the Golden Rule, a more appropriate name might be The Law of Love.  And I'm sure I'm not alone when I admit that I fall far short of practicing this commandment.  It's such a simple and uncomplicated concept, that I think we Christians often dismiss it as trivial and undemanding....after all, aren't the Ten Commandments more specific and more crucial?  Won't Jesus be more impressed if I don't worship other gods?  Or never take His name in vain? Or keep the Sabbath holy?  And of course, He will find me more obedient if I don't murder, steal or commit adultery!
     But as He says in the Scripture immediately following verse 12, "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction .... small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."  In effect, we find a broad avenue (and all kinds of excuses) that justify our envy, our anger, our impatience towards our neighbor. It's the narrow road of loving even the unlovable that Jesus wants to see, and that will be evidence of our efforts to follow His commandment.  
     And we fail to understand that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things DONE IN THE BODY, according to what He has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)."  We are all going to have to give an account to Jesus for everything that we have ever done down here on this earth – all of the good with all of the bad. 
     So if He tells me that the greatest command is to love Him with everything I possess, and the second greatest command is to love my neighbor, then I better get my priorities straight!  All other "rules" pale in comparison.  And I'm pretty sure that if we can master these two commands, then all the others fall right into line; they become natural and effortless.  As Psalm 19:7 says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul."  When you love Him and are able to show love to your neighbor, then your soul is at peace.  And in these chaotic times, peace is worth pursuing.

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