March 13, 1994

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The Golden Rule

We saw last week that Mat 7:7-11 was an encouragement to pray for the grace of God in order that we might be able to do what is required of us. We also pointed out that the section included v. 12, what is known as the Golden Rule.

V. 12 opens with Therefore. Because V. 12 opens with Therefore, it cannot be separated from the preceding verses. Remember, the Lord is teaching and preaching to His disciples, although it applies generally to the saints.

Do we want others to pray for us? This verse concludes the section on prayer to the Heavenly Father that He would provide what we need in His service. By this section being concluded with v. 12, the Lord tells us that however we want the Heavenly Father to treat us, we must treat others. This verse is an extremely practical application of the OT law and prophets. With just these very few words, the Lord told us in no uncertain terms how to apply the law into society around us.

Let me mention some negative points about Mat 7:12:

1) It cannot mean that the Law and the Prophets are now void and replaced by the "Golden Rule." Christ already said that He came not to destroy either, 5:17-20.

2) It canot mean that we can now do unto others as our fallen nature would have them do unto us.

Example: 1) My fallen nature would love to gain great worldly wealth with very little effort on my part. But I am not to permit or promote gambling. 2) I do not want to suffer the death penalty if I murder someone; therefore, I will not enforce the death penalty upon others. This idea destroys the word of God.

So what is the Lord saying? Six points:

I) The Lord here does no more than bring the sum total of the OT law into the NT. He sums up the entire spirit of OT law and prophets as He quotes an OT law in His own words:

Lev 19:18, Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.

As we mentioned, this sermon by the Lord Jesus simply gives the laws governing His earthly kingdom. He gives the basic laws here at the start of His ministry, then He will apply the laws throughout His ministry.

One of the more praticial applications of this law is found in Mat 18:21. I will only mention a couple points from this section.

This kingdom has a king and laws which are like the kingdom which Christ is presenting to man. This kingdom has debtors in it. Not just any debtors, but debtors so deep in debt that the debt is impossible to pay. This kingdom has a just accounting system that keeps track of its subjects and requires the debt of them. This kingdom has demands of restitution. This kingdom has an extremely merciful king. Upon humility and prayer, the king forgives debt.

But this kingdom also has a law issued forth from its King: His subjects will receive from their King the same attitude they give one toward another. Though we may say more about this when we get to Mat 18:34, 35, we will point out now that vv. 34, 35 is the conclusion of a human story to discribe a heavenly truth. Therefore, the Lord is not saying that those who will not treat others as they desire to be treated from the Heavenly Father are on thier way to hell.

What He is saying, though, is that things will not go well for the subjects of the Kingdom of God who will not treat their neighbour as they desire to be treated according to the Word of God.

But we could say that those who are are either unwilling or are unable to forgive are not new creatures in Christ, because the Spirit of Christ will not tolorate unforgiveness in the heart of the believer.

Therefore, Mat 7:12 cannot be dismissed lightly. It not only sums up the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, but it sums up the entire OT law and prophets.



II) the Lord connects privilege, duty and blessings. Vs. 7-11,explains the glorious privilege of the Child of God, viz., free and open access to the Heavenly Father, and assurance of His blessings upon His people.

But v. 12 clearly attaches the condition upon the previous blessings; it presents the heavy responsibility upon the Child of God. And that basic responsibility is to claim God's grace to do good within our sphere of influence.

This verse tells us that we are to pass on the good we have received of the Father to others, or we will be in trouble with the Father.

7:11, what person has not received good from the Father? We are to share that good with others. The Scriptures are quite clear as to who is to receive our good, viz., all men.

Ga 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith. 1 Ti 6:18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Heb 13:16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Jas 4:17Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin. 1 Pe 3:11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

Mt 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

In the passage before us, the Lord tells us that we are to give to others as the Father has given to us; we are to pass on to others what we have found from the Father: mercy, love, liberality, &c.

We should point out that because God's good provided salvation for us, we fall under a great responsibility to evangelize our friends, community and the word in general. What good has the Father done for you? You likewise owe good to others.

"But Bro Need," you say, "They do not deserve good from me!" To which the Lord answered in Mat 18:33, 34 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

In fact, it was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us.



III) v. 12, also reiterates a law the Lord already gave, 6:12:

A) one of the strongest teachings of the Lord is that we can expect to reap what we sow in forgiveness.

Col 3:12-16 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye. And above all these things [put on] charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

B) We will also reap what we sow in our demands upon others.

Example: If we demand perfection in others, perfection be demanded in us by the Father. Then He returns our demands back to us through our friends, neighbours, family, coworkers, authorities, &c. He uses others to return to us our demands upon others. Why do we demand more from others than we demand of ourselves?

Ecc 7:19, 20, 21 For [there is] not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

It is senseless to get upset when we hear others talking against us; we have done the same thing to others.

Are we intolorant toward others? Our heavenly Father will see to it that others are intolorant toward us.

C) we will reap what we sow in our religious differences.

I suppose this is one of my sore spots. I fellowship with a group of preachers who are extremely intolerant of any differing views of certain Bible doctrines. But at the same time, they expect complete toleration for their views on those particular issues. I am not talking about basic salvation doctrins, but views of particular passages of Scripture that just do not speak clearly in areas they are attempting to be dogmatic.

How many people have suffered even death over religious differences? I have read some authors who had a very obvious ungodly spirit in areas of unclear Bible teacing. It was clear that they would willingly put someone to death who disagreed with their views. And their hatred was not over something like the redemptive work of Christ; the controversies are over areas that the Word of God just does not speak clearly about. These peopleexpect great toleration for their view, but don't dare cross them with your differing view.

There will be religious controversies between folks who hold to the same book, the Bible, until there is no more sin nature. Though both sides may be totally committed to their view, the golden rule must prevail.

God assures us that HE WILL SEE TO IT THAT WE REAP WHAT WE SOW; HE WILL SEE TO IT THAT OTHERS TREAT US AS WE TREAT ONE ANOTHER.



Thus one of the firmest established and clearest laws if Scripture is that if we expect good from God, we must give good toward others. If we expect toloration from God, we must tolorate others. Obviously, I am not even hinting at tolorating wickedness and heresy. Rather, we are talking of treating others as we desire to be treated by the Heavenly Father, in fairness, justice and mercy.

Ps 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. Ps 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; [so] shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Ps 37:27 Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.

The Lord assures us that we will receive what we give.

Lu 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 2 Cor 9:6 But this [I say], He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Eph 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether [he be] bond or free.

I am always amazed at how thieves get so hostile when someone steals from them and how rebels get hostile over the anti-law sentiment in civil authority. These people want to be treated lawfully, but they want to be exempt from the same law they expect everyone else to follow.

The Lord Jesus, in Mat 7:12, tells us that we will reap from HIM as we sow toward others. And we will reap back to us from those in authority and those we come into contace with daily.



IV) the "Golden Rule" reverses the fallen nature. It says not, "Treat others as they have treated you." Rather, it says, "Treat others as you would have them treat you." If anything requires faith and grace to do, this law of the Kingdom does.



V) notice the order of our Lord's command here: others first, then self. You know that I cannot get this close without hitting it: this is a clear statement against self-love and self-esteem.

Php 2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.



VI) finally, the "Golden Rule" not only applies to our actions toward others, but it covers our inner thoughts and attitudes: Mat 5 (27ff) dealt with the heart.

We live in a world intent upon gaining its personal rights, yet it has no regard for the rights of others. When the law of Matthew 7:21 fails to rule in the church, what can we expect from those outside the church?

Do we demand prompt payment, but not promptly pay? Do we resent being slandered, yet care nothing of other's names? Are we hurt when friends fail to sympathize with us, yet we are indifferent to their sorrows? Do we expect others to treat us with kindness and respect, but fail to treat others the same?

The Lord said that all of our correctness in doctrine is useless if we fail to treat others as we desire to be treated.

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Those who claim purity in doctrine yet are intolerant over religious differences are no better than the Pharisees of Christ's day. They are an abomination to God and part of the root cause of the destruction of society. It is strange how we major on minors and minor on majors. People are very tolerate of differing views of salvation which do not correspond to faith in the redemptive work of Christ, but in other areas they are extremely hostile. The major doctrine of controversy or agreement must be the finished work of Christ.

Yes, the things presented and implied by v. 12 are far more than human flesh can bear. That is why we must go the Father daily for His empowering grace in areas like this.

How can we treat others as we desire to be treated? How can we properly forgive? When is fellowship to be restored? Does all things really mean all things when the law called for restitution and many times even death against the sinner? When is what called for?

Thus vv. 7-11, instruct the teachers of God's word to seek God's grace to be able to preform proper judgment and to seek God's grace to do unto others what we would have the Heavenly Father do unto us through them.

The rest of the chapter, vv. 13-27, presents a couple more needs of grace: first, grace for salvation (vv. 21-23), and second, grace for obedience (vv. 24-27)

The emphasis of vv. 7-12 is on grace. The purpose of God's grace is so we can faithfully see, know and fulfill our duties to God and to our fellow man. The Lord assures His disciples in particular and Christians in general that sufficient grace will be given when needed.

But grace is dependant upon heart-felt, sincere humility and prayer.

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