At some point in our lives, we have probably heard the well-known golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. For most this was the recess time law of the land. If we wanted to stay out of trouble when playing with the other kids, we knew that we had to treat them the same way that we would want them to treat us. This meant that if we wanted to play with our friend’s cool new toy, we had to be willing to share ours with them.
It should not be shocking to find out that the golden rule we heard as kids at recess originated from one of Jesus’ sayings during His famous sermon on the mount. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus states:
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”
At first glance, this statement does not seem all that shocking. Jesus knows that if we treat our neighbors the way we would treat ourselves, most will be in good shape. After all, who doesn’t treat themselves kindly? It is not very often that we curse or punish ourselves.
But what is shocking about Jesus’ statement is that the golden rule is the law and the prophets.
To the Jews, keeping the law was the very core of their religious system. Breaking any part of the law required a sacrifice for forgiveness. Blood had to be spilled. The law was the very way of life for the Jews. Keeping it was a lifelong journey of rigorous study, discipline, and tradition. Speaking to a crowd that was very likely made up of mostly Jewish people, Jesus once again turns their way of life upside down.
Keeping the law was impossible for any one person to do. The Jews had spent generations under this way of life. Yet Jesus tells us that we can sum up the whole law and the prophets by doing one thing: loving. Treating others the way we would like to be treated is simply showing others the love that we desire to be shown.
As you go about the rest of your week, think about how difficult it is to live up to the law. Jesus says that you have the power to do so, by simply loving others. Treating others the way that you would treat yourself. As you encounter your neighbors, and even strangers, remember that treating them in this way is tantamount to the law and the prophets.