So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Mt 7:12
The statement above is probably quite familiar to a lot of people. It is known as the “Golden Rule” to many, yet when understood, is actually impossible for us to keep in our fallen state.
For a start, it is not a prohibitive law of God. Unlike “You shall not steal” and “You shall not murder”, which many people could have some claim to keeping, this law is prescriptive. This is much more difficult to keep, as it requires that we look out for the needs of others, sometimes in cases where someone in need is unable to ask. How do we know we have seen to the needs of all those who we can help?
As we are, our own selfish desires all too often over-ride any concern for others. Sometimes we are blind to the needs of certain people, and sometimes what we think people need is not. When we are told to do to others what we would have them do for us, it requires that we understand other people, to know what they need, rather than assuming their needs are the same as ours.
It is very important that we view this command in context. Jesus prefixes the commandment with “So in everything”, indicating a precondition. We are told to “Ask…Seek…Knock…”, to become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, that he will give us his Holy Spirit that we might be able to follow his commands in his strength. For without his enabling, this commandment is impossible.
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Lk 7:50
Jesus has been invited to dinner, at the house of Simon the Pharisee. A “sinful woman” finds out, and gatecrashes, pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. Simon objects to this, yet by doing so demonstrates he has missed the point.
During this time the Pharisees were a powerful group of religious leaders, who taught the law of God was the way to salvation. They went about interpreting the law of God to make it easier for people to keep, and so giving the impression they were not sinners and so acceptable in the sight of God. Yet the law of God was not there to grant salvation, but to show people that they needed salvation because they were sinners and could not keep the God’s law.
The woman, on the other hand, had seen that Jesus had come to save sinners. She accepted she was a sinner, and had placed all her faith in him, demonstrating her faith through her actions.
Will we accept we are sinners and place everything we have at Jesus’ feet, or will we vainly believe we’re not that bad and can save ourselves through our own efforts?