If signing a legal paper makes you feel more responsible than when you give your oral word, then you need the Golden Rule. That’s one of the things Jesus’s next words say to me:
Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.” But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your “yes” be “yes,” and your “no,” “no.” For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:33–37)
Do you want others to deal with you punctually and honorably so that their “yes” means yes and their “no” means no? This is so important in marriage, in business, and, actually, in all human affairs. The kind of human being you are is at issue. Your word, your promise, is a part of you—a direct reflection of you, your punctuality, your honesty, and your sense of justice. Your word can earn you respect, honor, and admiration if you are a person of the Golden Rule. Deal with others the way you want them to deal with you. Let your “yes” mean yes and your “no” mean no. It means living the Golden Rule.
Jesus next teaches us how to deal with insults, aggressive behavior, and violence:
You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. (Matthew 5:38–42)
The secret is to not think too much of ourselves. Please read the entire Sermon on the Mount. The underlying message is clear: Honor—really honor one another. Don’t be so sure that you are always right. Really look at the other person’s point of view. God didn’t vest you and me with perfection and total wisdom. But He has charged us with being peacemakers. Be the bigger person.
If you were foolish enough to fall into the trap of pride and become angry, wouldn’t you appreciate the person who could bring the situation under control so that reason and the Golden Rule would work to benefit both of you? Be a peacemaker!
I can’t leave the Sermon without pointing you to one of the great principles of Christianity—forgiveness. Just listen again to what Jesus says after He tells us to pray to the Father to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”:
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14, 15)
This is not optional. Forgiveness is absolutely crucial to the Golden Rule working in your life. And what a power for peace of mind! I bring it to your attention a second time because it may, just may—be the thing that brings your life serenity and happiness.
I think we have examined enough of Jesus’s teachings to see that the Golden Rule is not some nice idle saying, but rather the law of the Kingdom of God. It is truly what no other leader ever commanded of His followers. It prepares us to do God’s will here on earth so that when Jesus’s prayer is completely answered and “God’s will is done on earth as it is done in heaven,” then we will fit into God’s eternal and unchangeable purpose for creating this earth and mankind on it (Isaiah 45:18).
In a word, love—the Golden Rule—The Great Commandment—prepares us for eternal life in the earth-wide Kingdom of God. With what result to you personally? There are two beautiful destinations that you can anticipate for your future. One is outlined at the end of the Sermon on the Mount:
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. (Matthew 7:24, 25)
Wouldn’t it be great if that described your life? You have built a fine life on a bedrock foundation. Your life will have its storms, but you will calmly handle these now with grace and faith. You are now wise. You know how to live a good life of active love for others and of being loved in return. A life of sweet peace. A life of enduring friendships and a clear, clean conscience!
You will find the Golden Rule is the way of success in business as well as in life. Every day you experience a life of joy, satisfaction, and friends—an abundant life. And then when the big “end-time storm” is over, Jesus promises that you will be spared alive to enjoy life in His Kingdom.
Although much more could be said about salvation for Christians, I now call your attention to what Jesus briefly tells us about the end times in Matthew 13. He says the sons of the Kingdom will live alongside the sons of the wicked one until the harvest time. Then He tells us what will happen when He returns:
Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:40–43)
What a prospect! Those of us who are alive as Sons of the Kingdom will be spared alive through Christ’s return. The wicked will be gone from the earth. Then only the righteous—those living by the Golden Rule—will be left as meek survivors to “inherit the earth,” just as Jesus promised in the Sermon on the Mount! (Matthew 5:5). The Lord’s Prayer will have come true and we will be there!
One of the most respected leaders in the Christian world, Billy Graham, describes that time in his book, Storm Warning:
From time immemorial, mankind has longed for a combination of true law and order, of peace and prosperity, of freedom and fulfillment, of health and happiness, of godliness and longevity, on this Earth. It will happen when Christ comes again to establish His Kingdom. (p. 276)
These words touched my heart. Please read them slowly again and feel God’s love for us.
Mr. Graham has other interesting comments on that time when the Kingdom comes and “God’s will is done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
I feel in a small way the feelings Jesus must have had on His last day with His beloved friends. John chapters 13 to 17 describe the time they had together. This was His last opportunity to make sure they had caught that one great central truth: what it means to live the true Christian life! He had told them that God’s greatest command to them, out of all God’s communications, was to “love God and to love others as they loved themselves.”
He had devised a supreme accolade so that this truth stood out above all others. He had said, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” And then to help them understand how love works, He had coined a saying that expressed the same thing in different but clearly understood words: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Then He welded the two commandments together by again using the supreme accolade, “This is the Law and the Prophets.” There could be no misunderstanding about their paramount importance. No other teaching ever received this supreme honor!
Yet in these final hours with His friends, He wanted to make so sure they understood. He told them:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34, 35)
There is one way to identify true Christians—not by their doctrinal opinions, nor by where they worship. In one and only one way can they be identified—by their love for God and others. Again, Jesus said, “As I have loved you.”
And just minutes before saying that, He had given them one last great example of His love! Jesus knew that He soon would give His life for others, but the example He had just given them minutes before was one that they could do for one another!
What was that one example that would capture the true spirit of that love? An act that could be remembered through all future generations? He washed their dirty feet! A humble, menial job. Their feet could have been really grimy. Bare feet in sandals pick up lots of dirt on dusty dirt roads littered by the droppings of work animals. His actions are graphically described in John:
[He] rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. . .
So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:4, 5, 12–17)
What a lesson for us on pride, meekness, and gentleness. Test yourself. Do you see yourself following Jesus’s example? And doing it happily? In love? If so, you are not far from the Kingdom of God. What a powerful example! I don’t know how many of His followers actually did this for others, but what a mind-stretching, love-stretching example that was!
What if you had been one of those who actually felt the Son of God run His fingers between your toes to clean them and then carefully wipe your feet with His towel! Would you ever forget the lesson it taught you?
Would you now feel too proud to go to another person and say, “I’m sorry if you and I have a problem, could we discuss it by the light of the Golden Rule?”
Would you be able to take the initiative and seek—yes, really seek—peace, with that foot-washing example in your mind?
For me, the one person who comes closest to having that loving spirit is my dear wife, Janet. It has been the joy of my life and my great reward to live with her and learn from her lifelong example of Christ’s love. I hope you have someone in your life who provides such an example and encouragement.
More than that, pray that you can be such an example for others.
So now, dear friend, if you have caught a bit of that fire, that love, that meekness, draw it to your heart. Hold it. Cherish it. Grow it. Live it. For in that love, you have found the one called Jesus, the Authentic Son of God!
You have found Him who is the Author of the Golden Rule, that under-appreciated key to our lives and to our destiny. The best way for you and I to live happily and successfully.