The Golden Rule
Matthew 7:12 ESV
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the Prophets.”
We use this verse as a solid standalone message. Do to others as you would like someone to do to you. Yes, of course. If we all did that, I’m sure the world would be a bit rosier. While I wholeheartedly agree with this verse, it isn’t the sole target of my thoughts.
What I found interesting is the first word of the passage… “So…” In some translations, the word is “therefore”. It is in the original Greek text and this conjuction was meant to tie the verse to previous text in the reading.
Not being a historian, theologian, or any “-ian”, I can only look at what strikes me on a personal level from what I’m reading. The prior few chapters of Matthew were full of lessons on judging others, making money a god, worrying, giving to the needy, murder, adultery, divorce, etc. Basically, every issue we encounter in life can be examined from this core verse. It is powerful and extremely significant. Don’t judge others unless you want to be judged… give to those in need as you would like others to help you… don’t commit adultery because you know you wouldn’t like it if it happened to you.
But what struck me most about this Golden Rule is that it came right after the section that discusses the topic of ASK, SEEK, KNOCK.
Matthew 7:7-11 NIV
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”
God invites us to ask Him for things we need, to seek Him / look for Him, and to enter His kingdom by knocking at His gate. But could it be that the best way to receive all the goodness God has waiting for us is to pour out those very same things we desire to someone else?
The law of sowing and reaping doesn’t end in the garden, but it is certainly evident when we plant seeds of the fruit we wish to enjoy later. In the same way, when we “do onto others”, we are planting seeds. We are sowing an expectation. But not only that – we are placing value in one of our brothers or sisters in the same way we want to be valued. And when we give of ourselves to someone else, we have created room in our soul-baskets for God’s harvest in us.
Perhaps when we petition God for answers, He reveals them through our service to a friend in need. We may find God best when we are caring for our brothers and sisters. Maybe we truly enter God’s courts when we knock on a neighbor’s door. Could it be that God’s responses to the ask, seek, knock prayers are best heard when we are most selfless? When our focus is to be God’s hands and feet on this earth?
When we pray for His will in our lives rather that what we think we want, He will respond in ways we can’t imagine. Our joy will be made complete in Him and our needs will be abundantly met. Not everything we desire is healthy for us or the best for us, but, without fail, God always knows what we really need and is sure to provide. The answers may not be what we expect, but the harvest is rich and plentiful.
Ask, seek, knock – yes. But in doing so, remember to “do unto others” – only then can we really experience God’s kingdom right here on earth.