“Remember boys, no matter how random things may appear, there’s always a plan…”
– Hannibal Smith, The A-Team
[Each week, we’re pairing up one of the teachers with someone in the class, and we build the lesson around that person’s favorite verse and the story behind it. This past week I got to teach on a verse from a class member named “Mike”. Here is a quick synopsis.]
Matthew 7:12- “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
This is near the end of the Sermon On The Mount, in which Jesus spoke to his disciples and a large crowd with the glittering Sea of Galilee in the background.
A few weeks ago we talked about a verse on honoring your father and mother, and how the 10 Commandments seem to show how that parent-child relationship most closely resembles the relationship between God and Man, and acts as the bridge between how we relate to God, and how we relate to others. The first four Commandments deal with our relationship to God. The next Commandment, #5, deals with our relationship with our parents. Then Commandments 6-10 deal with how we relate to others.
This section in Matthew sets up the same way- 7:7-8 deal with your relationship to God:
“7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Verses 9-11 uses the parent-child relationship, like the 5th Commandment:
“9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (I like how Jesus threw in an exclamation point in there.)
And then verse 12 deals with our relationship to others:
“12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
There is a change from the Old Testament to the New, though.
Commandments 6-10 are basically “DON’Ts”- Don’t kill, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t covet.
But verse 12 is “DO”- as in DO unto others… You need to be active, you need to go out and DO.
The preceding verses are very active, too- “Ask, Seek, Knock, Give”
So why did Mike pick this verse?
Because growing up, his mom used to quote it to him all the time- repeatedly, and apparently with little to no effect on young Mikey. I imagine it started with her yelling like parents do, with emphasis on the second syllable “mi-CHAEL!!!!” and then bunching it together because she said it so many times, “DOTOOTHERSASYOUWOULDHAVETHEMDPTOYOU!” The crazy thing was that Mike’s mom wasn’t a Christian, but a woman who described herself as a recovering Catholic. So its crazy, that even though he wasn’t a Christian and didn’t grow up in a Christian household, Jesus’ words still got to him.
As an adult, the words kept coming back to him, like one night, when a co-worker’s car wouldn’t start. Mike started to walk by to head home, but “Do to others as you would have them do to you” came into his head, and Mike put himself in the other guy’s shoes. He turned around, got out his jumper cables, and started the guy’s car.
Another time his neighbor Gustavo was asking about where he should take his car to get an oil change, and how much it would cost. It was a Sunday afternoon and Mike really wanted to go inside to watch his beloved Steelers get beat again, but The Golden Rule came back to him. “Dude, it’ll take me 10 minutes,” Mike said. Gustavo must have said thank you about 50 times.
This also fulfilled Ephesians 2:10- “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
As Mike says, “now I see God loves you all the time and he is always pursing us”. Even outside a “Christian” home, even before we’re Christians, He’s there.
Then one night, Mike is reading his kids a bedtime story from a Veggie Tales book, and reads “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and it hits him that the saying his mom told him was from the Bible, and that he’s known this Bible verse his entire life.
I can just imagine God up in heaven at this point, talking to Himself. “I gave Mike’s mom that verse to tell him over and over, so that it would stay in his heart and mind. I gave him those skills so that he could use jumper cables, oil pans, and any number of things “to do unto others”. I gave him those kids and that book this very night so that he can see that I’ve had My hand on him his entire life.”
Then he’d sit back, take whatever the heavenly equivalent of a cigar is, and say “I love it when a plan comes together.”
Questions for you:
How have you applied the Golden Rule in your life? How have others applied it to you?
Can you look back and see how God has had His hand in your life, when you couldn’t see it in the middle of things?