Many consider the statement of Jesus in Matthew 7:12 to be the most popular saying he ever made. He said, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
As familiar as you and I might be with this saying, I was surprised to learn that this was a new teaching in the time of Jesus. Notice what Barclay says concerning this,
“It is possible to quote rabbinic parallels for almost everything that Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount; but there is no real parallel to this saying. This is something which had never been said before. It is new teaching, and a new view of life and of life’s obligations.”
Rabbi Hillel taught something similar but notice the difference, “What is hateful to thyself do not to thy neighbor; for this is the whole law, and all else is its exposition” In effect, he taught the “Golden Rule” in the negative and as Lenski points out, it is self-centered.
Instead of “not hurting” others so that they do not hurt me, Jesus is telling us to engage others positively. This is a challenge to the disciple of Jesus to let their light shine for others to see. We are to live in a way that intentionally seeks good for others. The fruit of such a life will be returned to you.
Father, thank you for the reminder that I need to think of the needs of others and intentionally seek to treat them in ways I wish I were treated. I should not be passive and wait for others to be kind to me first. I should not be afraid to take the initiative and seek to meet their needs first. This approach to life will help me to be less self-centered, and more others focused. Living this way is a true summary of what the Bible expects of us. Help me to take the initiative to give my life away helping to meet the needs of others.
Following Jesus with you,