Applying the Golden Rule to Our Lives

Now, what does all this mean to you and me and the way we spend the remaining days of our lives?

Matthew 25 truly is a special chapter in the Bible for me. It contains two relevant stories. I will restrict myself to just a few points, which I hope you will never forget. 

In the parable starting with verse 14, Jesus describes a master is going away and saying, “I am going to give one servant five talents, another servant two talents, and a final servant one talent.”

It really didn’t matter how many talents each servant got. The important thing was and is “do something!” Like General Booth told his son in starting the Salvation Army, “do something!

Please read that brief chapter 25 of Matthew. Unforgettable. What is Jesus saying to me in that one parable? “Peter, don’t make excuses.” “Do not try to figure out how not to do something.” “Figure out how you can do some good with what whatever little you may have.” That’s what Jesus tells me in that parable in Matthew 25:14–30.

In that account by Jesus, the consequences to us, either for doing or not doing good is unforgettable. Read it and never forget what the Master said to the excuse-maker. I won’t ever forget it.

Now, the last parable in Matthew 25 tells us something Jesus often talked about, more than people seem to realize. Time after time he said “the judgment, the Judgment Day, the Judgment Day.” He is saying that the time will come when there will be a judgment day for us all. Plan on it. Jesus tells us:

For the son of man will come, in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then he will reward each one according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)

And the same message is in II Corinthians 5:10:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. That each one may receive the things done in the body, whether good or bad. 

See also Romans 2:5–11, 15, 16; 14:10–13; I Peter 1:17; II Timothy 4:1; and Revelation 20:12, 13; and 22:12.

It is very important for us to read about that Judgment Day that Jesus talks about in Matthew 25 because most people mistakenly think it is only about wicked people and their end of destruction. But listen, as Jesus describes the real Judgment Day, the destruction-bound goats, he says to the goats, “I was sick. I was in prison. I needed help, and you didn’t do anything.”

Here is the point. Jesus wants us to understand that on Judgment Day, he not only will be judging people who do really bad things, but He will be judging sins of omission! He will be judging sins of omission! The “goats” didn’t do anything bad. They just didn’t do anything! They didn’t do anything good, and the terrible road for them will be destruction. I will never forget the first time I read this and realized what Jesus was really teaching us.

Then Jesus gives another surprising lesson. When he judges the good sheep, he uses the same scenario, he says, “I was sick. I was in prison. I was hungry, and you did something good for me, you did something good.

They say, “No, no, wait a minute Jesus. Honestly, we didn’t see any sign of you.”

“I know that,” Jesus says. “You did it, for the little ones! The least of these. The helpless. The sick. The poor. The broken-hearted. They just touched your heart and you responded!”

That, to me, is the second great lesson from the Judgment Day account. The sheep are doing good to needy people, from those just needing encouragement to those needing a kidney, to the least of these,people who really need help. The helpless and the hopeless.

Jesus was talking to “sheep” who weren’t aware of Jesus watching. So they were not doing good because they saw Jesus in the situation. They were doing good for others simply because the Golden Rule was in their hearts, and they were doing good instinctively, responsively, not in a calculating way, but just because of the real needs of people. Their hearts said, “If I were in those shoes, I would want help, I will help!” Exactly as the despised Samaritan did! (Luke 10:25–37).

That is the big lesson here for me. The sheep were blessed because of their kindness and generosity to the least of these, those considered “unimportant.” The sheep were blessed because they helped those who could never repay them. The “little people” in life. The “least of these.”

One time, my friend, Joey Wright, and I discussed the Golden Rule. He told me what had helped him was to think—every morning while still in bed—“today I want to do one thing that is kind, or forgiving, or generous. One thing today!” He said that helped change his life habits. Could it do that for us?

It is not complicated. Two-letter words from the lips of Jesus. “Go! Do!”

I have tried, in my own way, to recommend living the Golden Rule. Let me sum this all up.

Imagine you asking me, “Please sum all this up in a nutshell. What are the benefits to me of living the Golden Rule?”

Answer: “You know how to deal with and prevent problems, troubles, and heartache in your life!

“You know how to earn the respect, the friendship and the love of those in your life!

“You know our Creator’s ‘way’ to a well-lived life with genuine happiness and God’s blessing!”

“It is Gods will—done on earth!”

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