Jesus, sitting on a hillside nearly 2000 years ago, “wowed” the crowds with His words and the absolute authority with which He spoke. He offered them teaching that was new to their ears; different, very different, from that of the religious leaders. A right ‘attitude of heart’ that would be acceptable and pleasing to God was being introduced. I refer to the portion of scripture in Matt. chapter 5 through Matt. chapter 7, known as the ‘Sermon On The Mount’.
It is within the context of this morally rich teaching that we hear Jesus speak these words; “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” Matt. 7:12. This verse of scripture is known as the “Golden Rule”, but for this rule to be of real value, it must be understood. It is important to realize the ‘action’ that Jesus is trying to promote. He is not saying, “Do not do to others what you would not want done to you”. In other words, He is not saying do not do any harm or wrong to others that you, yourself, would not appreciate having done to you. There were wise men, previous to Jesus’ life, which conveyed such teaching. Though the concept of doing no harm to others is good, there lies within this kind of teaching an inherent problem. A person could actually fulfill the principle of the teaching by doing nothing at all. Jesus conveys the same thought but in the positive: do to others what you would have them do to you. By putting it this way, it directs a person into positive action, promoting love and active kindness. It calls upon us to do to others those things that we ourselves would benefit from and enjoy if done for us. There can be no doubt that active goodwill, love, and concern for others is essential if we are to walk in the kind of right action God desires.
The word of God does not change to suit each new generation. The timeless teachings of Jesus speak the same message of “right living” to all those who would follow Him throughout every generation. Clearly, He calls His followers to live a life of right action prompted by a right heart.