The Golden Rule

Summer on the Mount

There’s a good chance you heard the “Golden Rule” growing up…but did you know it’s straight from the Bible? Specifically, straight from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount? As we continue our series, “Summer on the Mount,” Blake Holmes walks us through Matthew 7:12, the Golden Rule.

Blake HolmesAug 4, 2019DallasMatthew 7:12; Luke 10:30-35; Luke 10:25-29; Luke 6:27-32; Matthew 7:7-11; Matthew 5:17; Galatians 5:14; 1 John 4:19

In This Series (15)
How to Never Hear, “Depart From Me I Never Knew You.”
Todd WagnerAug 18, 2019
Broad vs Narrow
Adam TarnowAug 11, 2019Dallas
The Golden Rule
Blake HolmesAug 4, 2019Dallas
Prayer Connected to Promise
David MarvinJul 28, 2019Dallas
Matthew 7:1-6 : Judging Others
Todd WagnerJul 21, 2019
Finding Freedom From Worry
David MarvinJul 14, 2019Dallas
Is Money Your Servant or Master?
Jermaine HarrisonJul 7, 2019Dallas
The Lord’s Prayer
Blake HolmesJun 30, 2019Dallas
False Religion & Outward Righteousness
John ElmoreJun 23, 2019Dallas
Radical Love of Real Disciples | A Guide to Matthew 5:33-48
Harrison RossJun 17, 2019Dallas
What Jesus Says About Divorce in Matthew 5:31-32
Todd WagnerJun 9, 2019
The Murderer and Adulterer Within Me
Connor BaxterMay 26, 2019Dallas
Salt, Light, the Saved, the Savior and the Law
David LeventhalMay 19, 2019Dallas
The Life that Flourishes | Matthew 5
Todd WagnerMay 12, 2019
A Summary of Matthew 5-7
David LeventhalMay 5, 2019

In This Series (15)

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • What’s one way you can live out the Golden Rule—to proactively love someone—this week?


There’s a good chance you heard the “Golden Rule” growing up…but did you know it’s straight from the Bible? Specifically, straight from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount? As we continue our series, “Summer on the Mount,” Blake Holmes walks us through Matthew 7:12, the Golden Rule.

Key Takeaways

  • The Sermon on the Mount is a Kingdom ethic for a Kingdom people.
  • The Golden Rule—Matthew 7:12—“Settles a hundred difficult points. It prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases.” -JC Ryle
  • The Golden Rule summarizes the heart behind the entire Sermon on the Mount.
  • The Practice of the Rule - We are to love proactively.
  • Up until the time of Jesus, every other form of this principle had been taught in purely negative terms. Jesus flipped it. It’s not enough to simply do no harm to others…we are our brother’s keeper; therefore, we are to initiate.
  • The Golden Rule is directly related to the Greatest Commandment (Luke 10:25-27).
  • How much better would the world be if in each and every situation we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes? If we lived with the mindset of “How would I like to be treated?”
  • The Motive of the Rule - Captures the love of the Father
  • The reason why we disobey is because we are motivated by self-interest and self-preservation.
  • 3-things you can do in light of “So”: 1) Preach the gospel to yourself every day; 2) Do not reply upon your own strength or willpower, but ask for God’s Spirit to empower you; and 3) Begin to see others through the lens of the gospel.
  • Hurt people hurt people. Loved people love people.
  • The Priority of the Rule - The Golden Rule summarizes the Law & the Prophets and the Sermon on the Mount.
  • When we love the way the Golden Rule calls us to love, we are obeying the heart behind the Law and what Jesus asks of us.
  • Suggested Scripture study: Matthew 7:12; Luke 10:30-37; Luke 10:25-27; Luke 6:27-32; Matthew 7:7-11; Ephesians 2:1-5; Titus 3:3-5; Matthew 5:17; Leviticus 19:18; Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:14
  • Sermon: Praying to a Good Father
  • Sermon: Ask
  • Sermon Series: Summer on the Mount

Good morning. Not long ago, I needed to take my car in to get a little work done, so I decided to take it into the dealership. While it was there, they recommended I get an oil change. Of course. They always find something else you have to do. So I got my oil changed, amongst many other things, and then the next morning when I woke up, sure enough, all the oil they'd changed happened to be on my driveway.

I walk outside and see all the oil spilled all over my driveway, and I'm like, "I'm no mechanic, but this is not good. This is not what I paid for." So I called the dealership, and to my surprise, I didn't have to go through this phone tree that took 30 minutes. I actually got to talk to somebody, and his response kind of took me off guard. He goes, "Oh, we'll take care of that." He said, "Are you at home right now?" I said, "Yes. I can't leave home. The oil is all over my driveway."

He said, "Well, listen. We're going to send a car over. We'll let you use one of our cars, and we'll take care of yours." I was like, "That would be great." So they come over, and they bring me a loaner car and tow my car back to the shop. Later on that afternoon, I get a phone call from my wife. She says, "Hey, do you know there are three men outside in our front yard right now? It looks like they're working on the driveway. Did you call and yell at somebody? What happened?"

I'm like, "No, I didn't yell at anybody." She goes, "Well, they seem to be cleaning all the oil from our driveway right now. They're cleaning it all up. It looks like it's gone." It took me by surprise. It shocked me. I never mentioned anything like, "Hey, you need to come clean this up," but the dealership recognized, "Hey, you know what? This was our mistake," so they provided me a loaner car and they fixed my car, and then they sent people over to clean our driveway.

This particular dealership advertises as one that is high on customer service, and that particular day I saw, "You know what? It's more than just words. It's more than just talk." It's because they live by, they operate by one simple rule. It's not a rule that's unique to them. It's not one they came up with, but it is one that sets your business apart, and it doesn't only set your business apart such you stand up in front of several thousand people telling them about it; it sets your family apart, it sets your marriage apart, your schools, your communities, your Community Groups. It sets your church apart.

This little rule is found in Matthew 7:12. We're going to look at one verse today. If you've been with us this summer, you know we are continuing a series called the Summer on the Mount. It's our look at Jesus' Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7. It's the first of five sermons Jesus gives. It's perhaps the most famous sermon he has ever given. It's the one people refer to most often.

Matthew 7:12 reads like this: "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them** , **** for this is the Law and the Prophets." Since kindergarten, you've heard of this rule, and it's known as the Golden Rule. It is the Golden Rule."So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."** It's known as the Golden Rule, I learned this week, because a Roman emperor had actually written this verse, this rule, on his wall in gold, so it became known as the Golden Rule.

J.C. Ryle, the great Reformed pastor, said it like this: "[The Golden Rule] settles a hundred difficult points… It prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases." Isn't that true? We don't need to write down four thousand things of what to do when this happens. You just write down one rule, Matthew 7:12, the Golden Rule. "Whatever you wish others would do to you, do for them."

Do you want to set apart your company, your business? Do you want to do business differently that earns a reputation that others will talk about, more than just putting a little fish on your business card? In fact, if you're not going to live by the Golden Rule, please spare us all. Don't put the fish on your business card. It drives me crazy. But isn't that true, though? "It prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases."

You have to understand when we read this verse it's written within the context… We pulled it out, but it's written within the Sermon on the Mount, like I said. In the Sermon on the Mount, to be really clear, Jesus is describing a kingdom ethic for a kingdom people. He's not telling us, "Hey, this is what you have to do in order to be saved. This is what you have to do in order to be rightly related to God." That's not what he's saying right here.

He's talking to a people who want to follow Christ, who want to receive his grace, receive his provision, and then live in light of the fact that they are recipients of his grace. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, makes it really clear that all of us cannot live up to God's standard, which is holiness, which is perfection. We serve a righteous, perfect, and holy God who doesn't just measure our external behavior.

The Sermon on the Mount makes it clear he's not just looking at each of us, kind of measuring us, going, "Hey, did you do this? Did you do that?" No. In fact, his law, his will penetrates our very hearts. He says to us, "You don't get a pass. You don't get applauded by God, like he's impressed with your résumé just because you don't murder somebody." He exposes our hearts, and he goes, "I say to you, even one who is angry at his brother is guilty."

You don't get a pass just because you didn't commit adultery. He says, "I say to you, everyone who looks lustfully on another is guilty of committing adultery." What Jesus preaches in the Sermon on the Mount… You start to feel a little more weight of conviction. He's doing that on purpose to show us that we need God's forgiveness, that none of us can live up to this perfect standard of righteousness and holiness but Christ alone.

So we receive his grace. We acknowledge our need for a Savior, his forgiveness, and that's what this message is all about, this Matthew 7:12. How do we, as those recipients of his grace, now in turn, love and respond and treat other people? How can we possibly do that? So, in looking at this verse, we broke it up into three parts this morning: the practice of the rule, the motive of the rule, and the priority of the rule.

Let's look carefully. What does it mean to practice this? As I've said, it says, "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…" What you may not know is up until this time when Jesus lived, a version of this rule had been repeated over and over again. Confucius stated a version of this rule. Stoic philosophers, religious leaders, Jewish leaders, and rabbis had all stated one form or another of this particular idea, but see if you can tell how all of these men said something but how they said it differently than Jesus.

One said, "Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you." Another: "Watch yourself, my son, in everything you do, and discipline yourself in all your conduct, and what you hate do not do to anyone." Another: "What is hateful to yourself do to no other." Another: "What you do not wish to be done to you, do not do to anyone else." Did you catch it? What's different about what was common, what everybody spoke of and what was accepted in the day?

Jesus comes into that context, and he says it positively. Everyone else had a negative form of the rule. Did you notice that? There's an incredible difference between obeying the negative form of the rule and obeying the positive form of the rule. It's possible for all of us to obey the negative form of the rule. I don't want to be robbed, so I'm not going to rob you. I don't want to be cheated on, so I'm not going to cheat you. I don't want to be lied to, so I'm not going to lie to you.

That's obeying the negative form of the rule, but Jesus is calling us to something really different. It's not just this passive obedience. He calls us to love proactively, to be proactive in how we treat other people. It's not enough to simply do no harm. If you know your Bible, we are our brother's keeper, to quote Genesis 4, to express the idea of the minor prophet Obadiah.

We are our brother's keeper. We are responsible for how our neighbor is doing. We are to initiate. This is the exact same point Jesus taught in perhaps his most famous parable, the one you've heard many times before: the parable of the good Samaritan. If you have your Bible, look to Luke, chapter 10, beginning in verse 30. Jesus tells the story.

"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side."

So, you have two religious leaders who are walking down the road, and they see a man who has been robbed and beaten, left half dead. I'm sure they have important religious matters to take care of, so they just pass by and ignore the man. Verse 33: "But a Samaritan…" One who was from Samaria, one who was despised by the Jews, a half-breed, if you will.

"'…as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, "Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back." Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?' He said, 'The one who showed him mercy.' And Jesus said to him, 'You go, and do likewise.'"

You notice that the priest and the Levite followed the negative form of the rule. They didn't beat this man. They didn't have any culpability that he was robbed. They weren't a part of that, but Jesus looks at them and goes, "That is not how you love. That's not how you treat people." The hero of the story is the Samaritan who puts himself in the other man's shoes, who loves proactively, who practices the Golden Rule and goes, "How would I like it if somebody beat me and left me half dead? What would I want somebody to do for me? Care for me."

What if that was your loved one? You would hope someone would stop and go, "Hey, this man needs help." In fact, that's exactly what the Samaritan does. He gives of his time. He gives of his money, his compassion. He goes out of his way. He goes, "See that this man is taken well care of." Jesus goes, "That's the hero of the story."

You see how the Golden Rule is tied closely and connected with the greatest commandment, because just preceding that, a lawyer comes to Jesus and says to him, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" and Jesus says to him, "'What is written in the Law? How do you read it?' And he answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.'"

Verse 28: "And he said to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.' But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'" That's the whole point of the Good Samaritan: to convey the fact that each person you come across you are to love proactively. They are your neighbor.

It's in this context in the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus is coming to us and saying, "If you want to be a kingdom people, if you want to follow me, if you want to love like I love, if you want to live in such a way," as he began the sermon, "to be salt and light in the dark world, that others would come to know the Father, then you have to love proactively. You can't just walk by. Don't just practice the negative form of the rule."

In each and every situation in our lives, we're called to put ourselves in someone else's shoes. I want you to think about this for a second, just kind of brass tacks. This week, as you sit at lunch, how do you think you would respond differently if you were going to practice the Golden Rule when a few of your coworkers begin to talk behind the back of another coworker or friend of yours?

Oftentimes, we're like, "Well, you know, I'm not going to be the one to gossip, so I'll just remain silent," yet we let people run over the guy who's not there. For you to practice the Golden Rule, how different would it be to go, "Hey, you know what? Tom is not here. Let's talk about Tom when Tom is here" or "Have you shared that with Tom? I bet he would love to know. How about them Cowboys?" and move on.

Do you know what happens when you do that? People stop gossiping around you, and they also trust that you're not a gossip. Oftentimes, we're kind of like, "Well, it's not me who's gossiping, so I'm good. I'm just going to stay quiet. I don't want them to be upset with me. I don't want it to be uncomfortable." Or what if this week you start to feel a little distant from those in your Community Group? What naturally happens when it's summer and there's a lot of travel and you haven't talked to those in your Community Group…

You're kind of like, "You know what? Nobody has called me lately. All they talk about is community at Watermark. These people don't even care about me." Right? Like, "Why doesn't anybody call me? Nobody has called me to go get dinner. I haven't talked to those guys in a long time. They don't care what's going on in my life." Have you ever been there before? We all have. The difference is if you practice the Golden Rule, what's the question?

If that's the way you want to be treated, then perhaps you pick up the phone, you initiate, you call. "You know what? It has been a long time since we got together. It has been a long time since we've really connected. I hate that. I feel this distance, and I'd love to know what's going on with you, so I just felt like I'd call you, just tell you I care about you, I was praying for you, and I look forward to the next time we get together." What an incredible difference that would be. Instead of stewing in bitterness and wondering, "Why don't people call me?" to be the one to initiate and call others.

What about when you have the opportunity perhaps to take advantage of a client because you see that there is a good deal? Maybe he doesn't have all the information you have, and you have the opportunity to be the hero at work and expose his ignorance, but you choose, "You know what? This isn't really a fair-trade deal here, and if you're going to do business with me, I want to make sure it's a win-win situation. I want to make sure it's a fair deal."

If we lived like that, it would not only change our business and the way we conduct our business; it would change our Community Groups, change our communities, change our church. Now I'm going to go from… As one of my friends says, "Hey, Blake, you're going from preaching to meddling," so I'm going to take the risk of doing that. Think about this morning. Think about when you pulled into the parking lot.

Everybody wants to park close. I know there are some single men (it blesses me) who very purposefully and intentionally park in the farthest spot. I've talked to them. They're like, "Oh, it's easy. I don't have a family. I don't have young kids. I'm healthy. I park far so somebody else can park close." I just look at them and I go, "Brother, as simple as that sounds, that's practicing the Golden Rule." Or when you walk in… I understand. I get it. I always want to sit on the aisle seat. We want the aisle seat. We don't want to move in.

Or I read the Watermark News. I read the little comments we leave every week, and inevitably, somebody will say, "Hey, no one talked to me," and I hate that. I stand out there to greet as many people as I can, just say, "Hey," because I hate that people would walk in and out here and not feel like anybody cared. What would happen, gang, if you know and love the Lord Jesus, if you came not with, "How come nobody talks to me?" but you came with, "I'm going to meet five new people today"?

See how different that is? "I'm going to make sure five people are greeted and welcomed, that they feel like this is a safe place, this is a place to come where God's people are." It's really different. See, this Golden Rule we talk of is easy to understand. This isn't complicated, but it's really hard to apply. It's a totally different mindset. We become others-centered rather than focused on ourselves. We become hosts, not guests, and we initiate and we love proactively.

Not long ago, I came home after a long day, and, candidly, I was frustrated and irritable. I was kind of just sitting in Dad's chair, stewing a little bit. My wife was making dinner, and in comes my 16-year-old son. He very humbly and rightly comes in, and I could tell he was frustrated. He really humbly came and asked for my advice on something, so I gave him my advice, but I could tell he didn't really like it.

That frustrated me, because I was like, "Gage, if you'd just do what I say, this wouldn't be a problem anymore. You asked me. I'm telling you." He could tell I was getting frustrated. To his credit, he did not escalate. He kind of had that look. I can see it in his eyes, like, "Well, Dad is in a bad mood." My wife could pick up on the tone in my voice, so she jumps in. "Hey, I don't think he's crazy for asking questions right now. He's just trying to understand."

I'm like, "Oh, okay. Now there are two on one." She goes, "Is there something behind why you're frustrated?" I'm like, "No! I just want him to take my advice. He asked. I'm telling him." This is a really great, perfect dad moment right here. So I'm frustrated. I could tell they just want to diffuse the situation, and I kind of am self-justified, like, "I gave great advice. You came. You asked for advice. You should have taken it. So if you're frustrated, be frustrated." Really impressive. Right?

So, he left, and about 10:30 that night he comes back home. My wife stayed upstairs the remainder of the night. I don't blame her. He comes in and starts walking up the stairs. Typically, on a normal night, he would come in and say, "Hey, Dad," and we'd talk or whatever, but he goes straight up the stairs. I'm like, "Oh, hey, Gage!" "Hey, Dad." Straight upstairs. I'm like, "Okay. Well, if that's what he wants to do, just because he couldn't take my advice, he didn't like my advice, that's fine. We'll wait this thing out. I'll wake up in the morning, and we'll all be good."

So, I go upstairs. I get ready to go to bed. I'm brushing my teeth. I look in the mirror, and I didn't hear an audible voice, but I am telling you, it was as if the conviction and weight of the Spirit came over my heart. I look in the mirror, and it's like I hear God go, "Really? I mean, really? That's your leadership moment right now? Your 16-year-old son comes to you for advice. He has a question, and you become so offended? You have made a mess."

I'm sitting there thinking to myself, "What a horrible example." One side of me feels justification, pride, stubborn refusal to acknowledge it. "They should apologize to me. She didn't respect me." But in the end, God's Spirit, by his grace… I've been around Watermark too long. I've seen that modeled for far too long. I just go, "You know what? I've made a mess." So I went into his room and said, "Hey, Gage, let me tell you something. I'm not going to give you reasons why I responded that way. That was not helpful. Will you forgive me?"

I called my wife in there and asked her the same thing. We ended up having another hour conversation. It was awesome. Do you see the difference? Do you see how different it is to be the one to say, "You know what? I've made a mess, and I need to clean it up. It's on me." How embarrassing to put that weight of responsibility on my 16-year-old son when I'm the one who made the mess.

So, let's talk about the motive of the rule. We've talked about the practices of the rule, but the motive of the rule. Let's consider why we typically either obey or disobey this rule. Candidly, the reason we disobey is because we're motivated by self-interest and self-preservation. It's why I didn't want to obey. It's why I didn't want to humble myself with my son. I imagine it's true for you. We're motivated by self-interest.

Self-interest says, "But what's in it for me? Hey, Blake. Yeah, Golden Rule. I'll practice that, but what's in it for me? Someone else can do it. Someone else can take care of the guy who has been beaten and left half dead. I'm busy. I have things to do, man." Self-preservation says, "If I live like this, then I'm going to be taken advantage of."

Quite candidly, as I was thinking about this passage, even when we do obey it, it is often because we want it to work. Why do we obey? Because we want it to work. "I'm going to be kind to you so you'll be kind back. I'm going to practice this rule because it's good for business. It just makes good business sense." This, again, is being motivated by self-interest and self-preservation. That's how corrupt our hearts are.

Jesus doesn't promise that people are going to return the favor. Did you notice that? Verse 12. That's not what he says. He promises, in fact, just the opposite, yet his command remains just the same. There's no qualification. There's no exception. There's no "Yeah, but if… You don't know this person. You don't know my neighbor. You don't know what it's like to work with him. You don't know my mom. You don't know my spouse." There's nothing like that.

He just simply tells you if you want to be a follower of Christ, this is how you love and treat people. In the cross-reference passage in Luke, chapter 6, verses 27-32, Jesus goes so far as to say that we are even to love our enemies in this way. How radical is that? We're to love our enemies in this way. Look at Luke 6:27-32.

"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you." Who lives like that? ** "To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."**

There it is again, right there in the context of how we are to love our enemies. Verse 31: "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them." Yeah, it's easy to love those who love you, but Jesus gives us a whole other standard, a whole other motive.

I know what you're thinking. This sounds like kindergarten talk, the stuff of fairy tales, nursery rhymes, but are we really expected to live like this? I mean, how can anybody live like this? This isn't just another moral pep talk about how to live better, have greater willpower. That's not what this is. Here is where you must understand something about the context of this verse that's so important.

Notice Matthew 7:12 does not read, "Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them." That's not what it says. Do you see what's missing? A two-letter word. It's the word so. That makes all the difference of the world, because it points you back to the context that precedes it. "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…" That communicates that this is tied to something, and it is. It's tied to the passage that precedes it, which is what we studied last week. Matthew 7:7-11:

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…"

You see, the motive behind obeying this can't just be, "Hey, I'm going to knuckle down and try harder." This isn't just, "How do I live a more moral lifestyle?" This verse is tied to the love of the Father. No one can live out this command without a proper understanding of God's love for us. Practically speaking, we have to preach the gospel to ourselves every day.

The gospel is not just for those who are far from God who don't know him, like they need to hear it for the first time. It's not just for them, but it's for us. We're to preach the gospel to ourselves every day and to be reminded of the truth of Titus 3, which says, "For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another."

That's who we were. Before trusting Christ, that was our job description. That's what characterized our life, but when you trust in Christ, when you recognize what God has done for you and you're a recipient of his grace, you understand verse 4: "But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…"

When you recognize that you are a recipient of God's grace, that there's nothing you could do to make God love you more, nothing you could do to make God love you less, and to be rightly related to him is not by what you do or don't do but by simply receiving that gift; when you recognize that you are the one who's in need of mercy and grace and God has chosen to love you… "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

When you preach the gospel to yourself every day and are reminded of that kind of love and of a God who says to you, "Ask, seek, and knock, and I will reveal myself to you. Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness, and all these other things will be taken care of for you. You don't need to live an anxious life, because I'm going to be the one to take care of you…" When you realize it's God who's going to sustain you and empower you and equip you, you then are able to love in a way in which this world doesn't understand.

We don't rely upon our own strength or willpower, but we ask for God's Spirit to empower us. When I sat there and looked in the mirror and felt all that pride and the flesh pulling against me and thought about my wife and my son and the mess I made, I simply looked to the Lord and went, "God, I need your help, because my heart when left to itself will justify, rationalize, minimize, and make a mess." So, I preach the gospel to myself and I recognize that I've made a mess and ask for God's help.

The third thing I want to encourage you to do is to begin to see others through the lens of the gospel. First John 4:19 says, "We love because [Christ] first loved us." That's so important to remember. It's so important to recognize. We love because Christ first loved us. Just this week, I was meeting with a group of men. We meet on Thursdays, and we ask three simple questions: "What did you learn this week, what are you going to do about it, and who are you going to tell?" Really simple.

Everybody gets to go around. One of my friends said, "Well, I've been reading in 1 John." In fact, the passage I just read to you about how to love others. He goes, "You know when we had those straight-line winds? Well, my fence was a victim of the winds. I lost my whole fence in my backyard, so I needed to get it fixed. I reached out to this contractor, and he came. We made a deal, and he told me how much it was going to be.

I spent all this money on the fence. It's embarrassing for me to tell the story, because I hate feeling taken advantage of, but of course the guy doesn't finish the fence like he said he would, and now he takes off with my money. It made me so mad. So mad. I've lost sleep, and I'm angry over it." We're like, "So what did you do?"

After talking with his wife and after praying about it… My friend says, "You know, I decided I just needed to let go of the money. I needed to get over my hurt and my pride and feeling foolish. I decided to pursue the man. I didn't see him as a contractor anymore; I pursued the man, because I know that hurt people hurt people and loved people love people.

So I reached out to him and tried to get to know him, and I learned that he's going through a divorce and is experiencing hard times. I saw it as an opportunity. I said, 'Lord, maybe you've put me in this man's life over a stupid fence to give me the opportunity to love him in a way that doesn't make a lot of sense in the world's eyes.'"

I just looked at my friend and went, "Who lives like that?" Do you know what 99 percent of the people in America do? They get to Twitter or social media and rant. Not him. He goes, "I just loved the man." Now, should the man repair the fence? You bet. But is my friend clean before God? Absolutely, because he began to see the contractor through the lens of the gospel. Only loved people can love in that way. Only recipients of God's grace can love like that.

The motive of the rule is not so people will love us back; the motive of the rule is because we've been loved. The priority of the rule comes from this line: "…for this is the Law and the Prophets." In other words, the Golden Rule summarizes your Old Testament. If you get that, you understand Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers. You understand the heart behind what God was calling Israel to and calling us to when you understand love.

This verse takes us back to the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Jesus lived out the law perfectly, and he's the only one to do so, because he was perfect. The Golden Rule summarizes the Law, the Prophets, and the Sermon on the Mount. Whenever we love this way, we are obeying the heart behind what Jesus called us to.

Leviticus 19:18: "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself…" Romans 13:8: "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." I could go on and on. Galatians 5:14: "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" Do you understand?

If you get that, if you get the Golden Rule, you will understand the heart behind God, his purpose in giving us the whole law. He's calling us to love God, and when we understand the love of God and how to love God, then we're able to love others. The Golden Rule is not just for kindergartners. It's not just wishful thinking. It's an ethic to live by. It's a call on our lives to live differently, to put ourselves in other people's shoes and say, "What would I want done? How could I help?"

The truth is, being at Watermark for 17 years, I've seen this lived out in remarkable ways. I've been so encouraged by the way I've seen so many of you live and love people. It truly is evidence of the Spirit of God in this family community of faith. It wasn't long ago that I heard about a group of friends who came alongside the family of a little girl who was dying of cancer. That little girl loved nothing more than to ride her dirt bike. She stood about yea tall, skin and bones, but she'd get on one of those big ol' monster dirt bikes, and she'd ride these dirt bikes.

Everybody knew the cancer was going to end up taking her life soon. This group of friends just thought, "Hey, what would we want someone to do? How could we come alongside a family we really don't even know?" The particular father didn't have the money to go buy the dirt bike, so he decided, "I'm just going to take my daughter to…" I think it was the Honda store. So they went to the Honda store, and they spent the day there looking at all of the dirt bikes.

She tried on all the leather stuff and the helmets. She wanted the hot pink boots, the whole bit. They spent the day there just laughing and playing. This group of friends from Watermark hear the story, so they call the store manager and say, "I understand there was a little girl who you helped today and was in your store." He goes, "Oh yeah."

"Do you remember what she tried on, what her sizes were?"


"Do you remember what she liked…the helmet, the jacket?"

"Oh yeah."

"Do you remember the bike?"


"I'm buying all those."

"You're what?"

"Yeah, I want to buy all those, right to the hot pink boots. Do you have a trailer? I'm going to need a trailer."

They called the dad and said, "Hey, listen. You don't know us very well, and this is what we would love to do for you, because we love Jesus and we know you do too. Here's our only request. Our only request is it just comes from you. Don't pay us back. Don't give us anything. Just give it to your daughter."

Guys, who does that? Who lives like that? People who know the Lord, people who have been forgiven, people who know they're loved, people who see, "What I have is not meant for me, but it is meant to be a blessing to others," people who understand the intent and the heart of the Golden Rule and the heart of God. Let's pray.

Father in heaven, I confess to you that I do not live by the Golden Rule as often as I would like, that far too often in my home and in my Community Group and here in the church I minimize and rationalize and justify my own fleshly desires, my own pride, and what I want. Father, would you forgive me and forgive each of us, Lord?

We say we want to represent you, but then we run our businesses for nothing but our own pleasure and profit and selfish gain, and there's nothing that separates our business from the world's except a little fish on a business card or a verse on a website. Lord, may we love people not just with words but in action and truth. Help us, Lord, to be like the Samaritan, to be a "There you are" kind of person and not a "Here I am" and just simply pass by. We love you. In Christ's name, amen.