Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

Fruit of the Spirit – Day 7

The Golden Rule

Bible text(s)

12“Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets.

Matthew 7:12GNBOpen in Bible reader

Up until the time of Jesus, Socrates and other great thinkers had summarised ethical conduct in one statement. Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you. It is in the negative, it focuses on what you must NOT do. If you do not want someone to hurt you, then do not hurt them. If you do not want someone to lie to you, then do not lie to them. Sounds good, right? There is a problem with this kind of philosophy though; it allows you to withdraw. Had the good Samaritan followed this line of thinking, he could have walked past the bleeding man on the side of the road with a shrug of his shoulders that said, “That’s not my responsibility. I did not rob him. I did not hurt him. It’s not my problem, so I’m moving on.”

Then, Jesus comes along in Matthew 7:12 and makes the most revolutionary ethical statement about how we are to live our lives every day. There is a huge chasm between the negative statement, “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you,” and the positive statement, “Do to others what you’d want them to do to you.” The positive statement doesn’t allow us to withdraw. It puts us on a proactive stance. If you think of a way you would like a person to treat you, then you proactively treat them that way.

Can you imagine what kind of world we would live in, if people lived out Jesus’ words? Selfishness and self-centeredness would be a thing of the past. Everyone would be a servant. However, we live in a world that teaches us to look out for ourselves, to get as much as we can, by giving as little as we can. We live in a world that teaches us “what’s mine is mine and I’ll keep it”. A servant’s heart teaches, “what’s mine is God’s and I’ll share it”.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.21.9
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