An exposition of Matthew 7:12. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, October 12, 2014.
How am I to respond to my fellow man? What are my obligations? What are the ground rules? Just what am I supposed to do with the old “crank pot” next door that thinks my backyard is his trashcan? And while I’m on the subject what about that old busy body down the street who thinks it is her job in life to know everybody’s business? Then there is that guy at the office who hangs around my neck like an albatross – do I have to take that? I just don’t like him. Can I punch him in the nose? We’ve got all kinds of questions when it comes to dealing with folks. In fact we even have some answers! But are they legitimate answers? Are they godly answers?
And if you are not happy with your own answers there are a whole lot of folks lined up to give you their sage advice. But as with all questions, we are better off to come to the Book and allow God to speak to the subject. As we allow the Scripture to speak we will find God has a lot to say about the way we are to relate to one another. There you will find some answers to your questions. Now I can’t promise you that you will like the answers you find there. But I can assure you that they are the right answers.
Jesus is setting on the mountainside instructing his disciples in kingdom living. He has talked about the necessity of godly character. He has emphasized the fact that character precedes conduct. He has talked about genuine acts of righteousness. He has revealed the proper attitudes toward things. He has warned about a critical, judgmental attitude toward others. And now we turn our attention to one of his most famous expressions.
It has been called “the Mount Everest of Christian ethics.” Bishop Ryle said, “It settles a hundred difficult points…it prevents the necessity of laying down endless rules for our conduct in specific cases.” We find this jewel tucked away in the heart of Matthew chapter 7.
Text: Matthew 7:12
SOM – key Mt. 5:20 & 48
True and genuine righteousness
Specific context = our relationship toward:
Our fellow man 7:12
Thesis: The genuinely righteous person treats his fellow man, not as the law allows but as love demands.
Here we find a simple, concise summary of the law and the prophets.
This is an extraordinary teaching – it is a revolutionary concept.
We know it as “The Golden Rule.”
Of course our modern interpretation of this rule is a bit different.
Now it seems that the golden rule is “he who has the gold makes the rules.”
Or perhaps it is “do unto others before they get the chance to do it unto you!”
Or even “do unto other as they have done it unto you.”
There are those who would say, “This is one of those concepts that is common in religion.” It is true that Plato and Confucius taught similar things – but the words of Jesus are different.
The great rabbi Hillel, founder of the Pharisees, was asked by a young proselyte to sum up the whole law while standing on one leg. Hillel replied, “That which is hateful to you, do to no other. That is the whole law, the rest is only commentary.”
Rabbi Shammai was asked the same question and he chased the questioner from the room with a stick!
Hillel’s concept was in keeping with Plato’s and Confucius. But look carefully. It is not the same thing Jesus taught. They may sound the same but they are radically different.
Before Jesus – all of this type of teaching was negative. They all dealt with “do not do…” They were relatively easy to keep. You could avoid doing things to others that you did not want them to do to you. But look again at what Jesus said. It is positive. “Do unto others what you would like for them to do to you.”
The former is “self-centered” while the latter is “others-centered.”
That is a tall order.
There is no easy fulfillment to this requirement.
As we consider what this requires of us I want you to note three things.
- This commands requires a new perspective on life.
- This command not only requires a new perspective but it requires a new principle in action.
- Obedience to this command results in a new person.