Matthew 7: 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Chresten and I have two daughters. Therefore, I assure you that, despite their professed love for one another, our daughters bicker and bargain with tremendous fanfare on an almost daily basis. This daily drama provides a platform for teaching that I have never actively pursued but has undoubtedly pursued me over these eleven years of parenting. The sermon I ‘preach’ most consistently stems from the ever-familiar, most commonly overlooked passage of teaching from the Messiah Himself: “…whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them,…”
Read chapters five, six and seven of Matthew this week to fully understand the context that this ‘quotable quote’ can be found within. Jesus had just challenged his disciples-in-training in not only how to be men of character and followers of Christ, but also how to be His advocates of this Way of Life. The primary topics included the infamous Beatitudes, the fulfillment of Christ versus the demands of the Law, how sinning was not just a matter of action but of intention of the heart, loving your enemies, charitable works, how to pray, how to fast, eternal thinking, the attack of worry upon faith, judging someone else when you are guilty of the same, and how to give without reservation. And then, He says, in verse 12: “To sum it all up, do to others what you want others to do for you!”
This premise is life-changing. It’s simple. It’s revolutionary. And yet, according to verses 13 & 14 of chapter seven, it’s rarely embraced and accomplished. The Golden Rule, as it has become known to both the saint and the sinner, embodies everything Christ taught, but more importantly how He lived. Even my daughters can quote this, quite possibly because they’ve heard it spoken at least once most days of their lives. “Do you want your sister to hit you? Then don’t hit her!” “Do you want your sister to share her toys with you? Then share yours!” “Do you want to be called names? Then don’t call people names!” “Do you want me to listen to you when you’re speaking to me? Then listen to me when I’m speaking to you!”
This concept bristles the flesh, however. Perhaps this is why Jesus said “…narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” The gate is narrow because it requires a more mature depth of character and spiritual pursuit in someone who is fully devoted to serving Jesus and becoming more like Him. It requires us to get over what we want at the moment and think about what we want for the future. “I feel like giving you less so that I can have more for myself at the moment. But if I put myself in your place, I will not want you to give me your very least. So I choose to give more by faith that God’s Word will return back to me what I have sown.”
How does this impact your daily life? Here are just a few examples:
- When I am driving home in rush-hour traffic, I will be patient with other reckless drivers so that, if by chance, I should make a mistake while I’m driving, someone will be patient with me.
- When I am shopping, I will not leave the displays in disarray. If I were the store’s employee, I would not want someone to take my effort and time with such lack of care.
- When my pastor or boss makes a mistake, I will not shame them or gripe about them to fellow co-workers, church members, or their family members. If I were in their position, I would be hurt and disappointed to know that someone else didn’t truly care about me enough to not talk about me or forgive my mistakes.
- If I have the opportunity to bless someone else in their ministry or work, I will do so to the best of my ability. If I were serving or working in the way that they are doing, I would want someone to take notice and consider my needs and desires.
- When my spouse comes home in a less than joy-filled mood, carrying a heavy load from a difficult day, I will do my best to show them kindness. I have had a few bad days myself and needed some patience from my family.
Whatever conflicts we face today–at work, at home, in our marriages, with our children, at church–I can assure you with total confidence that grace will be extended to us and through us when we purpose to simply do to others what we desire they do for us. Desire mercy? Extend mercy. Desire blessing? Be a blessing. Desire cooperation? Be cooperative. As the apostle Paul reminded the Galatian believers, “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap”(Gal 6). What are you sowing today?
Pursuing a better harvest,