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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                         The Golden Rule (7:12)

INTRODUCTION

1. Have you ever found yourself in a situation...
   a. Faced with the need to make a decision on the spur of the moment?
   b. Wondering what is the right way to act?
   c. Unable to recall whether the Bible specifically addresses the
      moral dilemma in which you find yourself?

2. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus provided a helpful tool in such a
   situation...
   a. A quick and easy way to know what to do
   b. Something that is easy to remember

3. It is found in Mt 7:12, and is commonly called "The Golden Rule"...

   "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them,
   for this is the Law and the Prophets."  (Mt 7:12)

[But what is "The Golden Rule"?  Was Jesus teaching anything new or
original by what He stated?  Well, in a way it was something new...]

I. THE "GOLDEN" RULE VS. THE "SILVER" RULES

   A. MANY HAVE TAUGHT THAT WHICH IS SIMILAR...

      1. The HINDU religion taught:

         This is the sum of duty:  do naught to others which if done to
         thee would cause thee pain. - The Mahabharata

      2. The BUDDHIST religion taught:

         Hurt not others with that which pains yourself. - Udana-Varga

      3. The JEWISH traditions taught:

         What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the
         entire Law; all the rest is commentary. - The Talmud

      4. The MUSLIM religion taught:

         No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother
         that which he desires for himself. - Hadith

      5. The BAHA'I faith teaches:

         He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for
         himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfil.  - The
         Book of Certitude

      6. Some other sources:
         a. Do not that to thy neighbor that thou wouldst not suffer
            from him. - Pittacus of Lesbos (650-570 BC)
         b. What you do not want others to do to you, do not do to
            others. - Confucius (551-479 BC)
         c. Do not do unto others what angers you if done to you by
            others. - Isocrates (436-338 BC)
         d. "Tzu-kung asked, `Is there a single word which can be a
            guide to conduct throughout one's life?' The Master said,
            `It is perhaps the word "shu". Do not impose on others what
            you yourself do not desire.'" - Analects, 15.24
         e. Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your
            betters. - Seneca (4 BC-AD 65)

   B. JESUS' "RULE" WAS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT...
      1. Jesus requires you to do something favorably to others, while
         the others only prohibit you from doing something unfavorably
         to others!
         a. Jesus:  Do unto others what you want them to do to you
         b. Others:  Don't do to others what you don't want done to you
      2. Note the difference...
         a. With the others, all that is required is that you don't
            harm other people
         b. With Jesus, what is required is that you show kindness to
            others
      3. Jesus' rule is truly the "Golden" rule
         a. The others are "Silver" rules
         b. Of value, yes, but not as much as "gold"
      4. The only ones that come close to teaching exactly what Jesus
         taught was:
         a. That found in Hadith, the traditions of Islam; but then,
            much of Islam is based upon what Jesus taught 600 years
            before Mohammed
         b. That stated by Seneca, who lived about the same time as
            Christ (I wonder if he had been influenced by the teachings
            of Christ?)

[So what Jesus taught was something new compared to what many teachers
had taught prior.  But in another sense it was nothing new; rather, in
a simple and easy to remember statement, Jesus gives us...]

II. A GUIDELINE FOR RIGHTEOUS CONDUCT TOWARDS OTHERS

   A. ONE IN HARMONY WITH THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS...
      1. As we have seen earlier in the sermon (cf. Mt 5:20-48)
         a. Jesus taught a standard of righteousness that contrasted
            with that of the scribes and Pharisees
         b. But it was in harmony with what the Law actually revealed
      2. This one "rule" summarizes what the Law and the Prophets were
         all about
      3. Just as the commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself"
         summed up the Law according to Paul - Ro 13:8-10

   B. A SORT OF "POCKET KNIFE" OR "CARPENTER'S RULE"...
      1. That is, something that is always ready to be used
      2. For example, even in an emergency, when there is no time to
         consult a friend, teacher, or book for advice, "the golden
         rule" can be guide for proper conduct
      3. Treat others as you would be treated, and it is unlikely you
         will ever do the wrong thing

III. SOME EXAMPLES OF HOW TO APPLY THIS "RULE"

   A. IN TEACHING THE LOST...
      1. Imagine what it must be like to be told you are wrong, or in
         sin
      2. Wouldn't you want to be told in a loving and patient spirit?
      3. As you would have others try to persuade you to change
         religiously, so treat those you seek to convert - cf. 2Ti 2:
         24-26; Ep 4:15

   B. IN CORRECTING ONE ANOTHER...
      1. No one likes to have their mistakes, errors, etc., pointed out
      2. When necessary, wouldn't we prefer to be approached with a
         meek and patient spirit?
      3. As you would have others offer you constructive criticism, so
         give it to them - cf. Ga 6:1-2

   C. IN TREATING OUR FAMILY, NEIGHBORS, ENEMIES...
      1. Everyone likes to have loving families, good neighbors, and no
         enemies
      2. Applying the golden rule will not only transform ourselves,
         but may also transform those around us!
         a. Sibling rivalry would cease
         b. Neighborly squabbles would be non-existent
         c. Enemies would become friends
      3. Don't limit the application of the Golden Rule to religious
         matters!

CONCLUSION

1. "The Golden Rule would reconcile capital and labor, all political
   contention and uproar, all selfishness and greed." Joseph Parker
   (1830-1902)
   a. Such would be the impact on our society if more followed Jesus'
      words
   b. But let's start close to home, and let the Golden Rule transform
      our own lives and those closest to us!

2. "We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it
   to life." Edwin Markham (1852-1940)
   a. This reflects what is true with most people; they know the rule,
      but don't live by it
   b. If Jesus is truly our Lord, then His "golden rule" will govern
      our life!
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