“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, NASB95)
It’s been a few days since I’ve looked at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in order to write down some thoughts. But it’s not been a few days since I thought about today’s single verse. Last week I went through orientation at a local retailer, followed by a buddy shift, and then actually putting things into practice through work. This particular retailer’s strategy for success is “Customer 1st.” Not only is putting customers first a priority, so is the way they treat their employees and expect their employees to treat one another. These principles stem from the business practices of the founders of two separate companies that have merged over the years, and as you can see it is a principle that is founded in Scripture. Imagine if every person we met we were focused on their best, what a radical change that would make not only in our places of work, but also in our homes, churches, communities, and more.
As a part of my orientation I was encouraged to come up with a phrase or something to go under my name on my name badge. After thinking on it for the rest of that day, I came back the next day and asked if I could put “E67” on my name badge. My trainer, knowing my background, immediately asked me if it stood for Ephesians 6:7, to which I said that it did. What I told her I would tell any customers who asked what it meant was, “This is a reminder that I am here to serve you with joy.” Ephesians 6:7 reads, “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,” (Ephesians 6:7, NASB95) And in The Message paraphrase I found it to say, “And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.” (Ephesians 6:7, The Message)
This past week I have kept both Matthew 7:12 and Ephesians 6:7 on my mind as I went through my work, and while my body might have ached from some muscles I have not used to that extent in a while, I have found the service quite rewarding. Jesus said that we are to treat others in the same way that we would want them to treat us. Paul said that we are to serve others as if we were serving our Lord. Jesus said a similar thing in Matthew 25 when He spoke of the righteous ones who will come through the Tribulation period (Matthew 25:31-46). He said in verse 40, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:40, NASB95)
Matthew 7:12 has been called the Golden Rule. When we look at the recognition that God places on our service to others and the reward that Scripture says awaits us in His presence for treating others in this way, we truly can see that our rewards are not only of gold, but also silver and precious stones. “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.” (1 Corinthians 3:12–14, NASB95)
Treating others as we would want them to treat us regardless of how they really do treat us is a great picture of our Lord. The Bible points to just how helpless we were in our lost-ness, but because God loved us He sent His Son to provide for our salvation through His shed blood and death on a cross. This is how He treated us and treats us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NASB95)
So, what is this so called Law of the Prophets that is fulfilled when we treat others this way? Later in Matthew Jesus was asked by a lawyer among a group of Pharisees who were trying to trap Him in a Scriptural error what the greatest commandment was. We read, “But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”” (Matthew 22:34–40, NASB95)
Jesus summed it up in Matthew 22 with the truth that we are to love God with every bit of ourselves—heart, soul, and mind. There is nothing that we are to hold back from our love of God. He then went on to say that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our love for God is not only directed to Him, but it is evidenced in our relationships with others. So, we really find that the Golden Rule is the evidence of the rule of God in our lives—affecting everything we are and do.
In John we read Jesus words, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34–35, NASB95) Clearly, God has set forth a critical life principle for us, and that is to love others as God loves us, and in doing this people will see and know that He is real. And doing it with a smile lifts a great load off of our feet.