The Best “Rule of Thumb”

The Best “Rule of Thumb”

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do
also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”
(Matthew 7:12).

Our familiarity with these words should not cause us to
become complacent or negligent. The words of our Lord
are ever applicable. The “Therefore” (NKJV and others) or
“So whatever” (ESV) links the thought of this verse to
what immediately preceded in verse 11. Just as God gives
“good gifts,” so His children should seek the “good” of
others by treating others the way we would want to be
treated. The Father’s love is reflected when His children so
relate to others. Further, in a section regarding
relationships (Matthew 7:1-12), we ought to be aware that
we can be harsh and critical fault-finders (vv. 1-6) and
that we all stand in constant need of God’s goodness and
grace (vv. 7-11).

The “Golden Rule,” as this verse is commonly called,
settles a lot. In one sentence Jesus effectively deals with a
seemingly limitless number of possibilities and scenarios.
How we treat others is not to be determined by how we
expect them to treat us or by how we think they should
treat us, but by treating others the way the way we would
want to be treated. There is a remarkable balance to our
Lord’s sermon. Having dealt with our tendency to be too
harsh and judgmental of others (7:1-5), too
undiscriminating in our judgment (7:6) and too quick in
our judgment to doubt God (7:7-11), Jesus then gives in
verse 12 a standard for relating to others in a way that
reflects not only good judgment but the will of God.

The negative form of this rule is known to many – “Do
NOT do anything to anyone that you would NOT want
them to do to you.” However, what Jesus does in stating
this in the positive indicates far more than just “honesty is
the best policy.” Jesus says this is the fulfillment of the
“Law and the Prophets.” Treating others the way we would
want to be treated is an essential element of what it
means to love one’s neighbor as oneself! (Matthew 22:36-
40).

Think of the transforming effect the “Golden Rule” could
have in our marriages, families, churches, schools, work
environments, communities, nations and world. There can
be NO truly healthy relationships with others without a
generous application of the “Golden Rule!” (Galatians
6:10).

-Mike Vestal

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