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How Can We Obey the Golden Rule?

Water BucketHow living by faith helps us love

Friday morning I was talking with some men about how to be more loving.

We know Jesus calls us to to love our wives, our children, our enemies, our neighbors.

But how do we do this — especially when we’re not feeling it?

Jesus tells us in Golden Rule

We looked at what’s called the Golden Rule — Matthew 7:12 —

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.

Here Jesus calls us to do as much good for others as we want others to do for us.

But if we are honest we will ask — “What about us?  Who’s going to do good for us?”

Jesus loves that question.  And He Himself answers that question, in —

The most important word in the Golden Rule

It’s the word “so,” which means “therefore.”  Look at the verse again —

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them

The word “so” shows that obeying this command depends on understanding the previous verse — verse 11 —

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Here Jesus promises that whenever we ask, our Father in heaven will always do good for us (especially the greatest good of giving us more of Himself).

We first must understand that God will always do good for us (v.11) — so therefore we can devote ourselves to doing good for others (v.12).

How to obey the Golden Rule

Jesus does not want us to obey the Golden Rule by gritting our teeth and ignoring our own needs so we can care for the needs of others.

He wants us to obey by first trusting all our needs to our Father in earnest prayer — resting in the fact that He is rejoicing to do us good with all His heart and soul.

Then — trusting that God is passionately pursuing us with good — we can devote ourselves to doing good for others.

If you are having a hard time loving, try this —

If so, try this. Open your Bible to Mat 7:11, and pray over that promise until the Holy Spirit stirs your heart that it’s true.

Pray until you believe that because of Jesus’ death, as you ask God in prayer, He will bring you good through every problem, every circumstance, and every future scenario.

Now notice your heart. What’s happening?

When you see that God will bring you great good. you will feel growing peace. Even joy. Your heart will become more and more full.

And as your heart fills, you will start wanting to do good for others. It’s just like what happens when you pour water into a bucket. If you keep pouring, it will overflow.

That’s how we obey the Golden Rule.

Ways to respond

Do you have comments, feedback, thoughts?  Feel free to leave a reply below.

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(Picture is from Microsoft Publisher Clipart.)

Category: Motivation for Obedience


16 Responses

  1. Bill Schuler says:

    “And as your heart fills, you will start wanting to do good for others.”
    I have experienced the difference between giving from myself and giving from the overflow of love from God,and there is no comparison. It is the Kingdom of Heaven!

  2. David Hyden says:

    Thanks, brother for sharing this truth. Excellent! I am uplifted and edified. Let us press on to know him MORE through the gift of his word and Holy Spirit (Luke 11:11-13).

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks so much for your encouragement, brother. You are missed! And, yes, let’s press on to know him MORE through His Word and Spirit.

  3. […] for decades but failed to see the connection with the previous verse. At his new blog, Steve Fuller explains why the first word is actually the most important word in the Golden Rule if you want to apply it […]

  4. One of my college coaches (who is a strong believer and was a leader for our school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes) did a lot of devotions for the team. One of his favorite things to say was, “If you see the word ‘therefore,’ ask what it’s ‘There For’?”

    Thanks for this post. A great reminder for me to focus on God’s love.

  5. Andrew T. says:

    … Where ‘good’ is defined as “all of what we need, and only some of what we want (God being the perfect father)” least people take this in a prosperity gospel sense.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Lester. There certainly is a danger of the prosperity Gospel twisting these verses. I’m thinking more and more that the One Good God always promises to give is the all-satisfying good of Himself — experiencing Him as my all-satisfying Treasure. When I have Him, through Christ, I am filled. I fully agree with you.

  6. Linda Todd says:

    Sometimes we tend to love only when we agree with what is being said. Love without dissimulation means we look beyond the differences and see the soul that God made and loves regardless.

    Most of the time God has given us much more than we recognize or give him credit for. Our needs he will supply, but our wants just may not be good for us.

    Very enjoyable and well worth reading.

    Thank you

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Linda. I agree that God does not necessarily provide our wants — just our needs. And He will also completely satisfy our heart hungers and thirsts in Himself, like Jesus promised in John 6:45. My experience is that when my heart is feeling the peace and joy of His presence — love for others flows. What a gracious God!

  7. Just browsing says:

    I agree that the “therefore” is important, but so is the broader context of the Sermon on the Mount and the other accounts of the Golden Rule. When I read the Golden Rule in Luke 6:31, the “most important word” is missing: “[30] Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. [31] And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (There’s no therefore in the greek, and it did not immediately follow the same statement about what God gives us). Rather, the broader account in Luke (6:27-38) is replete with examples of what the Golden Rule looks like when practically applied, consistent with Matthew 7:12, which concludes, “…for this is the law and the prophets.”

    So, I agree with you that our strength in giving and doing sacrificially for others comes from above; but I disagree that this is the message of the “therefore” in the Golden Rule. Rather, Jesus is saying that the life of the Christian is one of intentional obedience to the Law, and what it looks like is this: love your enemies, judge not, give to every man, be merciful, condemn not, etc…

    I enjoyed your post—it’s just that your conclusion about the therefore would only be tenable, exegetically, if it was in the “other” Golden Rule, too. And since it is not, I’m not sure the whole meaning of the Golden Rule can rest on the “therefore.” Rather, it has to rest on the broader context of the Sermon on the Mount, which is that the children of the Most High should display His same character and attributes: i.e., do this and “ye shall be the children of the Highest” (Luke 6:35), which is similar to what He said in 5:45 “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven”.

    I hope that makes sense… just cautious about letting a single word carry more weight than it should in our exegesis.

    Best regards,

    Just Browsing

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I agree that obeying the Golden Rule is obeying the Law and the Prophets, and that the Sermon on the Mount is a call for us to be like our Father.

      But I don’t see how either of those contradict what I said about the “therefore” in Mat 7:12.

      The “therefore” shows that Mat 7:11 is the reason we can obey Mat 7:12. So when it comes to understanding how to obey, the “therefore” is the most important word.

      To be persuaded that I’m misunderstanding the “therefore” I’d need to hear an alternative explanation of its meaning. I don’t think you gave one. And the fact that Luke doesn’t include the “therefore” doesn’t change what Jesus meant when he spoke what Matthew records.

      Let me know if I’m missing something here – and thanks for stopping by.

  8. Joe R says:

    Thanks for your clear article.
    The ‘so’ or ‘therefore’ points us back to the ‘why’ – why should we do ‘this’. It lets us know the reason and motivation for doing ‘this’ (in this instance, loving others as the focus of our lives.)
    I take it in these verses, if we know God is looking out for us, then we can be secure. (We are going to win in the end because God promises it.) We don’t need to grasp as much as we can to benefit ourselves like insecure people.
    So a Christian’s life should not be marked by grasping – best house, best job, best lifestyle available to me – but on what we can do for others. (and the best we can do for others , the most loving thing, is to invite them into the kingdom with us!)
    So I can focus my life on what will benefit others, even if it means sacrificing my own comfort. That is freedom!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to respond, Joe.

      I love how you summarize the “why” — it’s because we know God is looking out for us. If He is doing that — bringing us all the good we need whenever we ask — then, as you said, we can be secure and freed from grasping.

      And I resonate also with your statement that the most loving things we can do is invite them into the kingdom with us.

      Thanks for stopping by, and for sharing your thoughts.

  9. Kathy says:

    I have read these verses my entire life and never understood the fullness of them until today. Thank you for the change that this is going to make in my life!

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