“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
This week we will pause our exposition in the Sermon of the Mount to consider one single verse, which if we put into regular application, will without question transform all of our human relationships. When there is doubt as to how you ought to treat your family, friends, neighbors or brethren in Christ, the application of this one ‘golden rule’ will guide you into the right and proper action. This rule is not to be mistaken to suggest that we are to treat others well so that they may treat us better in return; but we are to obey this command because such conduct is the goal of the Law and the Prophets.
I could not improve on the words of J.C. Ryle, who writes on this text:
He lays down a general principle for our guidance in all doubtful questions between man and man. We are “to do to others as we would have others do to us.” We are not to deal with others as others deal with us. This is mere selfishness and heathenism. We are to deal with others as we would like others to deal with us. This is real Christianity.
This is a golden rule indeed! It does not merely forbid all petty malice and revenge, all cheating and over-reaching. It does much more. It settles a hundred difficult points, which in a world like this are continually arising between man and man. It prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases. It sweeps the whole debatable ground with one mighty principle. It shows us a balance and measure, by which every one may see at once what is his duty. Is there a thing we would not like our neighbor to do to us? Then let us always remember, that this is the thing we ought not to do to him. Is there a thing we would like him to do to us? Then this is the very thing we ought to do to him. How many intricate questions would be decided at once, if this rule were honestly used!