The Golden Rule, the Law and the Prophets


” 
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12

The “Golden Rule” is the synopsis of the commandments that Jesus summed up in the words “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  It is the Lord’s prescription for successful human relationships, a system of thought where the place to start is our very own selves: taking stock of our likes and dislikes in the totality of our lives and activities.  Having performed this appraisal, when we come to interact with each other, we need to realize that the other person is exactly as we are in these matters.  Hence we are to put ourselves constantly in the other person’s position, being careful in our dealings to do or not to do those things that please or displease us ourselves.

It is commonly agreed that man’s great problem in the modern era is the problem of relationships.  If people applied the Golden Rule in their lives, this  problem would be addressed.  But there are those who believe that all that is needed is to hold up a standard  for people to follow, and things will work out fine.  But that is precisely what Jesus came against when he confronted the scribes and the Pharisees, those who upheld rules and regulations for people to follow, to conform to the letter of the law.

Jesus made a resounding proclamation in saying that the golden rule “is the law and the prophets”;  it is their whole object and purpose.  The Lord was concerned about portraying to the people the right and proper view of God’s law.  Problems arise because we do not fully understand the meaning of God’s law, its character and content. Many times we are engulfed in the number of directives and ordinances, that we forget what is the spirit of the law.

It is also perilous to view the law as something negative and prohibitive.  While there are negative aspects of the law, the Lord went to great lengths in the Sermon on the Mount to demonstrate the law as having a positive and spiritual nature.  It was never meant to be mechanical, and it was the fallacy of the scribes and Pharisees that they diminished something that was inherently spiritual into something in the realm of the mechanical, making it an end in and of itself; they failed to see the spiritual intent and character of the law.  Most of all, the scribes and Pharisees neglected to comprehend the great end and purpose for which the law had been given.

Why should we not covet our neighbor’s spouse, goods and possessions, why should we not kill and steal, why should we not commit adultery?  Are these directives designed simply for the sake of following rules and regulations and to keep our lives confined within certain boundaries?  No, the whole purpose and true spirit behind the law is that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that we are to love one another.

Love lies at the very heart of the golden rule.  Love is truly the consummate summary of the law and the prophets.

*** Reference: David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”, Martino Publishing, CT, 2011, pp. 206-210.

6 thoughts on “The Golden Rule, the Law and the Prophets

  1. The Lords words are written in my heart, “Love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul, and love our brothers and sisters as we would love ourselves”. By doing this the Lord said we would not have a problem with the other commandments, and would keep them, for you will do it always because of Gods spirit, that spirit whose nature and power has embraced you and stays with you to guide and teach you! (paraphrased) Dee after reading your post I am lifted on a natural high, and feel so heavenly. The life in your words are from His spirit and they will multiply in the hearts of many! Thank you for the spiritual hug tonight my sister! God bless you always!

    • And they are written in my heart in the same way, Wendell. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on these verses, and it is a blessing to know that the words in this post made you feel heavenly. Thank you my brother for reading and expounding upon this post. God bless you to the utmost and make His face shine upon you with His love. Yours in Christ, Dee

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