The Golden Rule Sermon – Do Unto Others

In this sermon, Tim explore the golden rule of Jesus and how it applies to our lives. As we learn to treat others how we would like to be treated, we fulfil the law and the prophets – to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. Text below.

Welcome to Manly Life Church!

We did a big series this year in the Book of Acts this year…

  • And then to finish the year in the lead up to Christmas we have just been looking at some of the simple things Jesus taught… not simplistic.
  • Preacher who started at his new church (been a bit of a mess) and preached on Jesus saying love one another like I have loved you… next week the same, next week the same…
  • Began to complain… he said, I’ll move on to the more meaty stuff once we have the basics down…
  • Not saying this about Manly Life – incredibly loving community… but we never want to tire of the basics of our faith! 
  • Major in the majors… and minor in the minors…
  • Right? That’s what 1 Corinthians 13 is all about… you can know stuff… you can do stuff… but if you don’t love, your just a clanging cymbal…

Talking about serving others – that is a good place to start. Jesus says whoever wants to be great amongst you, will be your servant!

  • So a deep and simple mark of the Christian life is you begin to serve other people, putting others interests ahead of your own. 
  • Last week Victoria spoke so clearly and beautifully on love… specifically that its shape in our lives is sacrificial, merciful, obedient…
  • I want to continue that today by looking specifically at the golden rule! Can anyone tell me what that is? Yell out?

It is interesting to me, that even amongst non-Christians, you often hear people say they try and live by the golden rule…

  • Luke 6:31 Jesus says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
  • Matthew 7:12 Jesus says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
  • So in other words, treat people how you would like to be treated. 
  • Treat other people with the concern and kindness you would like them to show toward you. 

Now, just in terms of where does this idea come from…

  • Although Jesus was the Word made flesh, He made Himself a student of the Old Testament law.
  • In the book of Leviticus, a core book of the law, we find another variation of what we call The Golden Rule.
  • “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”(Leviticus 19:33-34 )
  • So Jesus is deeply grounded in this. You could even say, that as the Word of God made flesh, he is their source!

Some people may say that it’s in our nature to do good to others. What do you think? And its true that parental love is often selfless, there are acts of great kindness and heroic sacrifice…

  • But, in general, I don’t think it is too harsh to say, most people only help other people when:
  •  It’s their friend or family, It’s convenient for them.
  • They’re in a good mood, or They expect something in return.

So the golden rule doesn’t say “treat the people close to you how you would want to be treated…”

  • And it doesn’t say – treat people how they have treated you.
  • Certainly doesn’t say do unto others before they do unto you! Hit first…
  • It is clear – love others as yourself. Treat others as you would want to be treated. 

Now, although this all sounds simple, the reality is that we all hurt other people…

  • Indeed, hurt people, hurt people…
  • And everyone is hurt or has been hurt in some way in this world; nobody has the perfect life. 
  • The hurts of life can harden us and make us cautious, maybe even bitter, causing us to only look out for ourselves. 
  • It is easy for hurt people to continue the cycle of hurting other people whether they realize it or not. 
  • But if everyone hurts in some way, how do we stop this cycle of hurting others?

Well, the answer is the golden rule and it’s source which is love… to receive the love of God and then be transformed to be able to live out the golden rule…

  • So key to this is Romans 5 where Paul says the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…
  • I really believe that so key to this is being filled up with love by God…
  • Why ministry time is so important! That is why we so often see tears when we pray for people to be filled with the Holy Spirit…
  • It is God dealing with so many of the hurts and brokenness within us… and loving us with supernatural love…
  • That was my experience… HS Alpha Day… to truly know you are loved is amazing!

A similar passage, a parallel to the Great Commandment, is Luke 10:25-28

25 Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”

  • So love your neighbour as yourself.
  • The lawyer then asks who is my neighbour… good lawyer question…
  • Followed by story of the good Samaritan. 
  • The point of that story is your neighbour is anyone in need.
  • And like so much of Jesus teaching… the challenge is not in the comprehension… it is not in the understanding… but in living according to the teachings of our saviour.

So Jesus teaches his followers “do to others what you would have them do to you” 

  • Do you want compassion? Give compassion. 
  • Do you want mercy? Show mercy. 
  • Do you want to be respected? Show respect.
  • Right? Step outside ourselves and consider others point of view, situation, or circumstances. 
  • We are all pretty self-serving creatures, and no one wishes for a life of hardship or difficulty. 
  • No one wishes to be disrespected at work, insulted on social media, or excluded at a dinner. 
  • Therefore, Matthew 7:12 provides a way to interact with people in healthy and ethical ways. 
  • So… When in doubt about how to respond to a situation or how to react to a person, simply consider how you would like to be treated—and then do that.

One of the shows that Victoria and I really enjoyed watching this year was the ABC’s Old Person Homes for 4 Year Olds.

  • Did anyone else watch that? It was actually set in a retirement home here on the Northern Beaches. It was heart warming stuff!
  • But I think one of the things that shocked us and was really hard to see was all these elderly people who just sat there everyday with no one visiting them, no one talking to them.
  • Premise of the show was putting a preschool class of 4 year olds in the nursing home to create a warmer, more human experience for everyone.
  • But it makes you think… when I am old… how will I want to be treated…

You know I get the golden rule wrong so often… hear that clearly…

  • But one thing I am proud of is that when I was at uni and my grandfather was in his last years, I would regularly visit him on my way home and just spend time chatting and connecting with him.
  • How would I want to be treated when I am old… now go and do likewise for others.
  • You know so often in the face of a broken and lonely and messy world we can think – what can I do?
  • Well the imperative in this teaching from Jesus is start… do what is in front of you. 
  • Work out who needs love and then love them like you would want to be loved…
  • And my grandfather died while I was living in Africa… but I was so glad that I had no regrets with him… Treat others as you would like to be treated!

So this kind of life says Jesus is the fulfilment of the law and the prophets…

  • In other words, you can understand the entire ethical and moral law of the Old Testament through the lens of love!
  • If we can get the basics of love God and love your neighbour as yourself 
  • Then we are on the way to living a good and moral life…

The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 13:8-10 – one of my all time favourite passages!

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

  • Right? And so here is Paul…. Trained deeply in the ways of Jewish law, but now reframed through his encounter with Jesus…
  • And so he gets it… all the commandments that are meant to keep us from harming one another and ourselves… get summed up in this one command. 
  • Love your neighbour as yourself!

You wouldn’t commit adultery because surely if you love yourself, no one here would want their partner to cheat on them… 

  • So out of love… out of treating people how you would like to be treated, we come up with a way to live an ethical, moral life. Adultery gets put off the table…
  • Right – you wouldn’t want to be murdered… so don’t murder.
  • Right? We hate it when things are stolen from us… so don’t steal. It’s the loving, right way to live. 
  • So the mark of being a Christian is not rule keeping, but making choices through the lens of love.

There is an old story often told about the way of love…

  • A woman died and was taken to heaven. The angel wanted her to see hell, so they stopped there first. Hell had a lake of nutritious stew, but the people had only meter long spoons and so were frustrated when they tried to feed themselves. 
  • So the people were miserable and hungry. And the people were fighting each other…
  • Then the woman was taken to heaven. Amazingly, heaven was exactly the same, with the same stew and meter long spoons; but here the people were happy and well-fed. 
  • The woman asked, “Why are these people so different?” The angel replied, “They feed each other; these people have learned the way of love.”

Ok, lets get practical… 

  • Because the challenge is not in the understanding but in putting into practice. 
  • Spurgeon, the great British preacher once said “The golden rule is more admired than practiced by ordinary men.”

Surgeon goes on… “In this place our King gives us HIS GOLDEN RULE. Put yourself in another’s place, and then act to others as you would wish others to act towards you under the same circumstances.  

Oh, that all men acted on it, and then there would be no slavery, no war, no swearing, no striking, no lying, no robbing; but all would be justice and love! What a kingdom is this which has such a law!” 

So take the issue of slavery. How can Spurgeon suggest under the golden rule, that it could not exist?

  • See Jesus doesn’t say… treat your own race, or treat your own religion, or treat you own countrymen – as you would want to be treated…
  • It is universal… premised on the fact that we are all created in the image of God. 
  • So, John Newton, an Englishman of the 1700s, was a successful businessman. His business was the slave trade – taking people from Africa, transporting them across the Atlantic Ocean, and selling them as slaves in America. And he made good money.
  • Through a storm at sea and an illness, Newton came to rethink his life. He became an Anglican priest and an advocate against slavery. 

He wrote a book, Thoughts upon the African Slave Trade (1788), which began with the golden rule and condemned the slave trade. 

  • He wrote the most famous hymn of all time, Amazing Grace, which begins “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!” 
  • Until that point it was generally regarded that slaves were wretched… and not slave traders or those who benefitted from slavery… 
  • But he came to see, that the greater wretch is not the enslaved, but the enslaver… the one who cannot treat others as they themselves would want to have been treated!
  • So, Manly Life, when you come across modern day causes attempting to end modern day slavery around the world… that is a great cause to give your time, money and voice to!

Let me just finish with two scenarios. 

Now I am going to bring one political and one personal one…

  • Try and do these with no ifs and buts… just apply the golden rule… how would I want to be treated… OK (formulate that)… then think, now I will try and treat others that way.

So firstly a political one… I can see some nervous shuffling… and I am not saying this isn’t complicated and that there wont be different, strongly held views…

  • So… MEDIVAC… and I’m not going to give you my view here. And I don’t want to hear yours!
  • I just want us to try and apply the golden rule to how we might thing politically and ethically as we approach a very real and very important issue.
  • What is our Christian response to refugees being held offshore in camps by our government who need urgent medical care?
  • Assuming the care needed is real, it is urgent and it is all of our collective responsibilities as citizens of Australia who elect a democratic government.
  • If you were in the camp and needing urgent medical care… how would you want to be treated?
  • Now I am not saying it is not complicated… but after answering that question, let that guide your response to how you voice how you think they should be treated…

OK last one… a personal situation…

  • Your marriage is having real troubles… you don’t particularly enjoy spending time with each other because you just seem to argue.
  • There is always a list you both seem to have of hurts and wrongs done to each other. 
  • On top of that, you are tired, you are busy and you sometimes wonder if it would just be easier to call it a day and go your separate ways.
  • But you remember the golden rule. That Jesus guy said something about love your neighbour as yourself. He said do to others as you would have done to you.
  • So you stop… you think how do I want to be treated in this marriage. What would I want to receive from my partner… and then you begin to treat them as you yourself would want to be treated.
  • What are some of the things you would begin to do?

Alright… simple, not simplistic… teachings more admired than practiced… 

Lets have some ministry! Got to love this Jesus!

Published by timgiovanelli

My wife Victoria and I are planting a new church in Manly, NSW

One thought on “The Golden Rule Sermon – Do Unto Others

  1. Thanks so much for this powerful message that you well summarized. I’m Apostle Jeremiah Sorie Kamara from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Founder and Lead Pastor of Potter’s House Christian Community Church Sierra Leone.
    Sir, I’m observing a five days quite time in church which started on the 14th August 2023. As I was praying, this text from Matthew 7:12 came up and I decided to search and found this article. Thanks so much sir for the great work.

    Additionally sir, if it pleases the Holy Spirit and yourself I would like to partner with your ministry.

    Here’s my WhatsApp contact and email


    May God continue to bless and protect you in Jesus name

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