Matthew 7:12 - (Jesus said) "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."
Our text is from Jesus' lengthy discourse known as the "Sermon on the Mount." Essentially, the text above sums up that saying most people call, the "Golden Rule." It's about treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves. It's about acting in a balanced, fair-minded way toward others, just as we would like to be shown by them.
Jesus' words here can be used as a yardstick for behavior in all areas of life. When commenting on a number of God's Commandments, Martin Luther explains that we should treat others as we want to be treated, be it our brother or sister, father or mother, co-worker, neighbor, or pastor. Now while this is a useful guide for how sinful human beings should reciprocate toward one another, it doesn't quite capture the way a perfectly just God deals with us.
If God's response to us was in keeping with our conduct toward Him—even in our best days—we wouldn't stand a chance. His justice is beyond human comparison; it is perfect, absolute, and incapable of being satisfied by our efforts or best intentions. When we treat God with disrespect, or neglect Him and His Word, He is still patient with us. When we go out of our way to sin and scorn the very relationship we have with Him, He is still forgiving and ever ready and willing to draw us back into a genuine and healthy fellowship with Himself.
Rather than the retribution we deserve, God offers us grace: the unending and unmerited fount of love and forgiveness He has shown mankind through the sacrificial offering of His Son, Jesus Christ, upon the cross. "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men" (1 Timothy 2:5-6a).
Try as we might, there is nothing we can do to win God's favor. Instead, we trust in Him and His mercy, knowing that He loves us with an everlasting love (see Jeremiah 31:3). And that love is Jesus—God's patient grace—given freely to you and me.
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for the forgiveness we have through the life, death, and resurrection of Your eternal Son, Jesus. Amen.
Excerpted from the devotion, "God's Patient Grace," by Pastor Josef Henning who has served in South Africa with LHM
1. Do you try to practice the Golden Rule in your life? When is that most difficult to do?
2. Can you give some examples of how Jesus' disciples might have noticed Him practicing the Golden Rule in His life?
3. Do people ever get the Golden Rule mixed up in their view of salvation? How might they do that?
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