The Golden Rule

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Matthew 7:12
12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

This verse is known as the Golden Rule: treat everyone the way you want to be treated. How often, however, do we pay attention to the third word in the statement? “Therefore” is referring to what preceded this sentence. It is related. Just before this we read that our Father in heaven wants to give us all that is good. How does this relate to the Golden Rule? What does receiving good gifts from God have to do with treating everyone well?

There’s another reference in the bible explaining what the Law and the Prophets are. In Matthew 22, we see a lawyer challenging Jesus in regards to what He thinks is the greatest and most important commandment. Jesus responds with two:

35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus says that loving God with everything we have and loving others the same way are the heart of all the commandments. If we ask our Heavenly Father for what we need and want and know He will give us only what is good, then Jesus calls us in the same way to love others the way He loves us. We want Him to pour out blessings upon us, so in turn (therefore) we should do the same for others. This is the Law and the Prophets. We want others to treat us with love, grace, mercy, compassion, understanding, and gentleness. This is how we too are expected to treat others. But we must also realize that these things only come in fullness from God’s Spirit as we read in Galatians 5:

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Society has trained us to live life as a competition: always trying to get “one up” on others and be better than those around us in one way or another. Jesus calls us, instead, to live life as a mission of love. This is why Jesus said that our Heavenly Father will give us the Holy Spirit if we ask for it, so that we can fulfill the Golden Rule. Do you need to ask God for His Spirit to fill you so you too may abound in His fruit? How can you better love others the way you want to be loved?

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