September 19

The Rule is More Golden Than We Thought

Luke 6:27-36 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also…. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”

If you skimmed through the scriptures above, you likely missed one of the most famous things Jesus ever said: “Just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”

We generally hear a version of this commandment out of its context. It certainly carries great power on its own, but is even more striking in its proper setting. We usually think of this verse as directing us to be nice and kind to those around us, because we rightly desire that kind of behavior sent in our direction. The biggest test we would generally run into is when someone is in a bad mood, or when someone we consider a friend hurts us.

But look at the picture He paints before stating it. Jesus puts this commandment right in the middle of a sermon about those that don’t love us at all, and are even our enemies. The least weighty situation He describes is lending to those we know can’t repay. The other circumstances are things we’d rather not encounter—people who hate us, curse us, and spitefully use us. Then the scenarios escalate to personal violence and theft.

It’s in that setting, with those violations and offenses against us, that He tells us to do something positive. It would have been challenging enough to refrain from doing something negative, and most of us would rightly consider that a major spiritual victory under the circumstances.

Reminding us that God is “kind to the unthankful and evil,” Jesus tells us that the Golden Rule involves loving our enemies (referring to moral love, as seen in action, not as evidenced in personal affection), doing good (a positive action), and giving (which is what lending with no thought of return really is). Verse 36 (above) perhaps brings final definition to what Jesus is saying here: “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”

The Golden Rule isn’t sweet; it’s defiant against every fleshly tendency we have to retaliate when hurt. It’s powerful in its call to “not be overcome by evil, but [to] overcome with good.” (Romans 12:21). Let’s keep it strong by remembering how Jesus presented it.

Prayer: Father, I receive the force and power of this obligation of love. Help me to understand its power and its call, and to receive it deeply into my heart and spirit. I pray You’d help me to obey its call the next time I find myself in one of the situations Jesus describes.

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