"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."
Where would we be if the Lord treated us the way that we treat others? We can be in such a hurry. We can read a verse like Matthew 7:12—or a devotional about it—and go on our way. But we don’t want to miss what Jesus is saying and what it means for every day of our lives. So let’s pause, close our eyes if we must, and consider: Where would we be if the Lord treated us the way that we treat others?
If we’re honest, we know that we would be hopeless if the Lord treated us the way that we treat others. But the glory of the gospel shines here, and countless verses radiate that light. As we consider a few, let’s put ourselves into the story. “He” is the Lord who loved us like this when we didn’t deserve it. And "we" are the ones who received, not our just deserts, but His shocking grace. How does the Lord treat us?
"He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities."
(Psalm 103:10) (NIV)
"But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
"But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Jesus shares His Golden Rule in the context of His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Just minutes before He spoke these words in Matthew 7:12, He shocked His audience by saying that He had not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). Most people think of the Golden Rule as more of a Golden Suggestion or a Golden Nice Idea. But if Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, and if He says that treating others the way we wish to be treated is the essence of that, then He came to fulfill this. And He has.
Every moment of His life, Jesus treated others the way He wished to be treated. And that was true, even and especially as He died on the cross. As sinners who rebelled against a perfectly holy, perfectly loving God, what did we deserve? As the perfect, spotless Lamb of God, what did Jesus deserve? Now behold the cross. Who was nailed there? Not us, but Jesus! He suffered what we deserve so that we would receive what He deserves! But amazingly, Jesus didn’t just live a perfect life and die for people who couldn’t. He also sent His Spirit to renovate and rule in the hearts of those who trust in Him. Why would He do that? So that we might be united with Him and begin to enjoy the kind of life for which we were created. We forget that the Lord made us for relationships, to be in unbroken fellowship with Him and with others. By the power of His Spirit, we begin to live that life now—however imperfectly—and we await the Day when the Golden Rule will be our Golden Reality. In the meantime, how do we follow Jesus in the way that we treat others? We pray for grace to keep our eyes fixed on Him (Hebrews 12:2). Because as we look to Him, the way He treated us more and more shapes the way we treat others. Brothers and sisters, do we see the golden opportunity to point people to Jesus in the way that we love?
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."