By Mike Willis
Therefore all things whatsoever would that men should do to you, do ye even solo them: for this is the law and the prophets (Malt. 7:12).
There are many things which demonstrate the deity of Christ, such as his miracles, resurrection from the dead, and sinlessness. The superiority of his ethical code to that developed by any other person also manifests his deity. There has never been a superior code of ethics to the Sermon on the Mount. in Matthew 7:12, in what is commonly called the Golden Rule, Jesus summarizes the section between Matthew 5:20 and 7:11.
The Superiority of Jesus Rule of Conduct
The world has generally recognized these following codes of ethics:
I. The Iron Rule. This rule is “might makes right.” Sometimes it is expressed, “Do unto others before they do it unto you.” One expressed this rule when he wrote, “Have a good time and hurt as few people as possible in the course of so doing. Notice the rule: have a good time. If you have to hurt some people along the way, have a good time- Try to minimize the number you hurt, but above all things have a good time. This is the law of the jungle. Leroy Lawson wrote,
– in a little village in Africa, an anthropologist trying to learn about the people asked a native the difference between good and evil. It was all very simple, he discovered. Evil is when somebody steals my wife and cattle; good is when I steal somebody elses wife and cattle. The law of the jungle and of most of human society. Do unto others before the~ do it unto you” (Matthew 109).
The gangs in our cities live by the iron rule. If a person has the ability to steal a car and not get caught, he should do it. If he can beat a person or kill his enemy without suffering much harm, he should attack. If he can steal an old persons purse, he should. This is the iron rule.
2. The Silver Rule. This rule is generally expressed as follows: Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you-” This ethical rule was taught by several Jewish writers before Christs day (see a list of those who taught this rule in Alan Hugh MNeiles The Gospel According to St. Matthew 93). This rule is negative. It is the ethical rule of modern suburbia, “Ill leave you alone, if youll leave me alone.” Though it is a decided improvement over the iron rule, it is far below the golden rule. It would stop a person from stealing your car, but it would not cause him to help his neighbors wife change a flat tire.
3. The Go/den Rule. This rule may not be original with Jesus. Whether original with him or not, it teaches a moral code which obligates a person positively to do for others what he wishes they would do for him (the rule presupposes that a person would do for himself what is right). Let us use the rest of this study to make Some applications of this lesson:
In the home. What tone of voice do I want my mate to use in speaking to me? If I want her to have the “law of kindness” on her tongue (Prov. 31:26), then I should speak kindly to her. What would I want her to do for me if she saw me busy with a hundred chores? If I would want her to get up and help me, then I should get up and help her with her chores instead of sitting in my Lazy-boy and drinking Diet Pepsi. What role would I want her to play in the discipline of our children? If I do not want to always to come across as the “heavy,” then I should be sure to take an active part in the correction of our children so that she does not come across as the one constantly condemning and criticizing.
On the job. Sometimes I have to hire someone to repair a washing machine or refrigerator. He starts charging me $35-40 an hour from the time he leaves his office. I would be angry if he stopped at McDonalds and got a cup of coffee while he read the paper, intentionally prolonged his job for whatever reason, or in any other caused my bill to be higher than it had to be. I expect him to do his work efficiently and as quickly as he can. If this is what I expect from those who work for me, then this is the kind of work I should give to my employer.
If I do not want someone to come into my garage and steal my tools, I should not steal the tools which my employer provides. If I would desire everyone to cooperate with me, if I were the supervisor of the shop, I should cooperate with my supervisor.
In personal relationships. Sometimes a person goes around the country telling lies about his brother, maliciously slandering his name and character. If I do not want others to gossip and slander me, then I should not be guilty of doing that to them (Lev. 19:16; Prov. 18:8; 26:22). Many church problems have been created by those who did not practice the Golden Rule. If there are some things which have occurred to me that I do not wish to have broadcast to everyone, then I should not broadcast ever juicy tidbit of gossip I hear about others.
Many churches are troubled by self-willed brethren who are so bent on having their own way that they are willing to disrupt the peace and harmony of the local church to get their way. In matters of personal judgment, do I want to work with a group of self-willed men (Tit. 1:7; 2 Pet. 2:10; 2 Tim. 3:4)? If not, I should learn to be as flexible as possible on matters of personal judgment.
Sometimes brethren make severe, harsh judgments on one another. They are censorious, guilty of evil surmising in the meticulous examination of every word written or spoken. If I do not want brethren to use such harsh, severe, critical judgments of my every move, then I should not do that to them.
In ministering to the needs of others. There are some fine examples of saints who have ministered to the needs of suffering saints (such as Dorcas, Acts 9:36-39). What would 1 want my brethren to do if I were so sick that I could not work for 2-3 months and had no income? If I would want them to help me financially, stop by to visit me, help me with my chores, and otherwise show concern for me, then I should react in the same way when announcements are made about those who are sick in the congregation.
What would I want brethren to do for me if I lost a child or mate in death? Would I want to be ignored and neglected? Would I want someone coming to me when I was depressed and harshly saying, “You’ve got to toughen up”? However I would want to be treated should be the measuring stick I use to gauge how 1 should treat those in the local congregation who need comfort and consolation.
In teaching others. I am thankful to God for my Mother and Father who lived a good example before us children, taught us the word of God, took us to church, worked with us through our problems, and otherwise helped us to start on the road of life in obedience to the will of God. If that is what I wanted for myself, then this is what I should pro-vide for my children.
I am thankful for the gospel preachers who drove from Lufkin and Houston, Texas to Groveton to teach us the gospel. They sacrificed their time, energies, and money to be sure that young folks like me heard the gospel. If I appreciate their efforts to teach me, I should make similar efforts to teach others.
What would I want others to do for me when I stumble into sin and error? If I wish that they could come to me in the spirit of brotherly kindness and show me my error, that should be my conduct toward them. If I desire to go to heaven so much that I would prefer the pain of being corrected over going to hell, then I should assume that they have the same intense desire to go to heaven and would prefer the rebuke of their friend rather than continuing in sin which eventually would lead to eternal death. I would no more deprive a spiritually hungry person of the bread of life than I would deprive the physically hungry person of bread.
This Is The Law and the Prophets
Jesus said that the Golden Rule summarizes the Law and the Prophets. He did not mean that practicing the Golden Rule releases one from obedience to the law of sacrifices; rather, what he said was that much of the Law, such as “Thou shalt not kill, . . . steal, . . . commit adultery, .. . bear false witness, . . . covet,” would be obeyed if one simply followed the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is a clear, concise, and simple summation of Christian ethics; it restrains our evil actions and demands positive conduct toward others. Let us learn to live by its demands on our lives.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 9, p. 2
May 6, 1993