Monday, October 19, 2009

Matthew 7:12–14

Matthew 7:12–14 (ESV): The Golden Rule


This is a very short passage, in which Jesus expounds the Golden Rule. Again, it’s a short passage, so rather than posting a synopsis, you can just read the original (ESV); I will quote verse 12 from the NIV version, though, since that’s probably more familiar then the ESV version:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (verse 12 (NIV))


The “Golden Rule” is nothing new, nor is it specific to Christianity. In fact, it’s a general term which has its own Wikipedia page: Ethic of Reciprocity. There are actually two forms of the Ethic of Reciprocity, the positive form and the negative form, depending on which religion/philosophy you adhere to.
  • Positive Form: Treat others the way you would like to be treated, also called the Golden Rule
  • Negative Form: Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you (also called the Silver Rule, apparently, although I’d never heard that term before rooting around on Wikipedia)
The negative form seems to be more common in other religions/philosophies, but Jesus gives the more difficult “positive form,” of, “treat others how you would like them to treat you,” which is, it must be said, more difficult to adhere to. But he also gives his reasoning: “… for this is the Law and the Prophets” (verse 12 (ESV)). Even though Christianity isn’t the only religion which espouses the Golden Rule, you have to admit that many of the laws given to Moses in the Old Testament would be unnecessary if we all followed the Golden Rule perfectly. Not all, but many. (I don’t want to go too far, since I’m comparing this with Mark 12:28–34 (ESV), in which Jesus mentions that loving your neighbour as you love yourself is the second most important commandment, but that the most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.)

All this to talk about the first verse of this passage, but then we have verses 13–14 (ESV), in which Jesus urges us to enter by the “narrow gate,” rather than taking the “wide gate” and the “easy way.” Jesus is not telling us that we can earn our salvation—that is a gift of Grace, given by God rather than earned, “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18–31 (ESV))—but he is saying that Christianity is hard. Don’t assume that when you become a Christian things will get easier.

That being said, it’s worth it in the end; the narrow gate and the hard way lead to “life,” while the wide gate and the easy way lead to “destruction.”

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