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God’s Word for You

Luke 6:31 The Golden Rule

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, January 22, 2018

31 “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.

This is the Golden Rule. It’s been translated different ways:

“Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them” (Christian Standard Bible).

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (King James Version).

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” (NIV).

“Treat others just as you would want them to treat you” (Evangelical Heritage Version).

“And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” (Revised Standard Version).

These are all good translations, but translation isn’t really our question today. When ancient philosophers and even some religious men said something similar (sometimes called the Silver Rule), they were only trying to keep men from hurting or from getting hurt or suffering loss in some way. They talked as if they only wanted to act like the civil government, caring for men’s bodies and not for their souls. Men like Confucius, Socrates, Plato, and others all said some version of: “What you don’t want others to do to you, don’t do to them.” The Rabbi Hillel, a contemporary of Paul’s teacher Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), said: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor, for this is the whole law. Everything else is its exposition.” But like the pagan philosophers, Hillel confined himself to the physical realm. Jesus addresses our physical needs with his Golden Rule, but as always with Jesus, he speaks to our souls as well as to our bodies. How so? By stating his words in a positive way, Jesus opens the door to preaching the word of God. You can easily substitute “preach law and gospel” for “do” and still come out with an excellent saying: “Preach law and gospel to others as you would have them preach law and gospel to you.” Put this way, the saying remains excellent, and remains so no matter what the “do” might be in any circumstance: Love, teach, prepare a meal, invite, pull a tooth, or whatever things we do.

These words of Jesus fit beautifully and ideally into marriage, and a man shouldn’t forget it while he lives and grows old with his wife, nor a woman with her husband. If you want to be listened to, prayed for, loved, cared about, then do all of those things yourself. Don’t ever try to teach your spouse a lesson by doing something they did just to show them how bad you think it is. This is not how you would want to be treated, and it isn’t loving. Instead, model the behavior you want. Love, listen, respect, enjoy, give flowers, anticipate, surprise—and make lifelong plans together. Luther calls the Golden Rule “the summary of all commandments respecting our neighbor” (that it, the Second Table of the Law, Large Catechism, par. 286).

God wants us to love and trust in him, and look at what he did! He loved us so much that he created the universe for us. He filled it with the wonders of the world and gave his own Son to rescue us from our sins. So forgive as you want to be forgiven, which is another lesson the Bible teaches us, in more ways than one (Matthew 6:12, 7:12, 18:32-35). Do as you would have it done. Love, not to earn love, but because God loves.

This isn’t all Jesus has to say about this, but the Golden Rule is the first motive Jesus presents for acting with love. The second is all about the way God has treated us.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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