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Do Unto Others – Matthew 7:12

by Paul Knecht

How do we live in the Kingdom of God?  In the Sermon on the Mount we have verbatim the words of Jesus that tells us how.  Many people have taken the attitude of Albert Schweitzer who concluded that these words are too hard for us now and that they can only be applied in the manifested kingdom.  But Jesus said in Matt 7:12   Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.  Now, since Jesus is the anointed prophet of God to bring a message to me I had best listen.

Does this message have anything for you?  Can you list anyone in any walk of life, or of any age that this does not apply to?  This is not a “tack on.”  This is not a rider on a policy.  This is not an after thought from the main body of the document.  Pure and simply this is God’s rule of human behavior. This is not an addendum to the Exodus; this is not something you add on to the Acts, or to the Revelation. It is the heart and core of what God expects of me now.

If I take these instructions to “Do unto others as I would have them do unto me” I am found in a very difficult and perplexing situation.

When we consider the phrase “Do unto others” we bring up the area of ethics and morals.  It is human behavior in relation to our action toward each other. We are looking at what is moral, righteous and ethical behavior.  God’s standard of human behavior for me is simply “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  I must ask myself, “How do I want to be treated?”

Jesus is my ultimate standard.  However, we take people who do not know much about him and tell them to be like Jesus.  But God is saying that whoever you are, whatever you are, you are obligated to treat other people in the way you want to be treated. That is within our power to do, and God will hold us to that.  This standard grows as I grow.  I am growing toward Eph 4:13-14  till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  God is going to meet me where I am and hold me responsible for my spiritual growth.  That is what is meant when we talk about Christ being our personal savior.  He undertakes to get me functional as an individual consciously walking before Him searching my heart to find out who I am and where I am and how God wants me to behave.

I am God’s moral standard.  God commits worth and dignity to me whom He has created, and this is evident in his coming, crucifixion, death and resurrection.  Christ died for you, but doesn’t think you can work out your own salvation as ordered. In other words, God has invested in us but we are still nin-com-poops   and we had better let somebody tell us what to do.  Christ demands our attention on the matter of our behavior.

If I can’t rely on rules I must look at the situation, and I must see where you are. Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” With this observation I must find out all the situations and pressures that caused problem and when I do I will look at them in a very different way. This order of Jesus forces me to take a hard look at what I am, where I am and that is the first place of failure in our pursuit of life in the Kingdom of God. We just hold a high expectation for each other guided by the rules, and when we fail in living up to these expectations we write each other off the list. If we ever succeed in understanding where that other person is coming from, knowing all of those things pressing on this person, I wouldn’t have been so harsh in judgment, so quick in condemnation

After figuring out where that person is we have to do something.  I have to put myself right there in his/her place, and ask, “Now that I am here how do I want anyone to deal with me.” Nobody has ever been asked this question, but only told how to behave.  Jesus is the only person that I know of that cares enough about me to ask me how I want to be treated. Most of us don’t even know we have a self let alone know how we want that self to be treated. We have always done what we were told, and because we ask our “self” the hardest question to answer is the one that wants to know how we want to be treated. We have always done what we were told, and there was a lot of help in this category. Starting with parents we had teachers, and the brotherhood all had their expectations and it never occurs to us to recognize our “self” expectations.

There is a proper self-interest without which no one can survive. Jesus is calling on us to develop a proper self-interest in order to value what he gave his life for. To do this we must begin to ask of our “self” how we want to be treated.  This is my answer to what I should do to you.

If we enjoy all the simple graces of life, we should enjoy giving it. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” There is nothing immoral about that.

God has called us into a very significant place in my salvation, into a real relationship with him and is willing to trust me to make the right decision and give me the same kind of freedom that will lead me and my life to a fulfillment in Christ and make me a channel of his blessing.

When Mary came and anointed him with that expensive ointment he enjoyed it. It was the most meaningful act that any human being ever did to him.

“DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU” is an operational definition of “THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF.” When you tell me to love my enemy, when you tell me to love my neighbor you have to tell me how. When moral and ethical behavior breaks down we criticize, pronounce judgment and condemn. There are four stories that illustrate what happens when moral and ethical behavior breaks down.

In Genesis 38 Judah has gotten his daughter-in-law pregnant. We must remember that God is still in the business of working with sinful human beings like Judah and all of us. Gen 38:24-26 And it came to pass, about three months after, that Judah was told, saying, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; furthermore she is with child by harlotry.”

Judah’s pronouncement on that is very simple and decisive: So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”  He had no problem in deciding what to do.  He didn’t have to think about it at all, that was the rule.  No the trouble is that he didn’t know that it was his daughter-in-law that he visited the night that he was out on the town. 25 When she was brought out, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.” And she said, “Please determine whose these are — the signet and cord, and staff.”   When he had completed his business with her that day he was embarrassed to have no money so she asked him for a pledge payment.  He left with her a signet, cord and staff.  When he came back to pay and retrieve these items from her she was gone, and he did not know who she was until this moment.

He has just said she was worthy of death and now discovers that he is the father of her unborn child. 26 So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, So, had pronounced judgment on himself.

In 2 Samuel 12 is the familiar story of David.  David was a great good man with good intentions, a great love for God,  the poet who wrote the 23rd  Psalm, a man with an extreme sense of fair play and justice. But he committed a horrible sin, and many others associated with it. He took another man’s wife.  When he discovered she was with child he arranged the murder of her husband.  It was painful for him so he tried to cover it up and hide it from himself and from God. God sent the prophet Nathan to him with a problem 2 Sam 12:1-7 “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”  5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”

David declared the man worthy of death.  You would expect that the king’s order to be carried out.  However, Israel was a Monarchy governed by law and not by the whim of the king.  He could not order more than the law prescribed and the law provided that in such cases the lamb should be restored four-fold.  All David could do is what the Law said.  In the light of David’s evaluation of the deed this is trivial, but it is all that he could do. If the law doesn’t say it is wrong, you can’t convict.  In spite of the awfulness of what the rich man did to the life of the poor man, the only thing he could be charged with is killing a lamb.

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! David had just pronounced his own Judgment.  He charged himself worthy  of death.

Now there is the story of Ahab in 1 Kings 20. In answer to prayer God had given Ahab victory of the enemies of Israel. When God told him to utterly destroy the enemy Ahab played magnanimous, capturing the other king and treated him as royalty. A prophet of God in disguise waited in the crowd for the king to parade by. 1 Kings 20:39-40  Now as the king passed by, he cried out to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and there, a man came over and brought a man to me, and said, ‘Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ 40 While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” Then the king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.”  41 And he hastened to take the bandage away from his eyes; and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 Then he said to him, “Thus says the LORD: Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.'”

When  Ahab judged the disguised prophet by his own words the prophet took off his disguise  and he knew he had just pronounced his own judgment.

Now to a parable in Luke 19.  This is the story of the Nobleman who had to go into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then to return.  He gave each of his servants some money and told them to do business and report their accomplishment to him on his return.  As each came before him they reported positive gains and was commended except   the last one, who said to his Lord, Luke 19:20-23, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.  21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’  22 And he said to him,’Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’

Those words ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, brings out, with force,  the golden rule as Jesus tells us not to judge.  When he said Matt 7:1-2 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  What ever yard stick we use  on other people, God will use on us. It was another way of saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Luke recorded this in a more forceful way Luke 6:37-38 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Put away the idea that Jesus is saying “Treat other people right and they will treat you right.” Did Jesus treat other people right? And they crucified him. Jesus is saying “If you will do what I tell you to do God will respond to you with good measure.”  He will not judge us if we don’t judge.  If we judge others He will judge us and use precisely the measure on us that we have used on them. When we judge, prepare to judge, we had best stop and think if we can afford to. We cannot be sure that we can stand up to the measuring stick we just used. Paul Knecht paraphrased these words of Jesus this way: “Go ahead and judge all you want to, but don’t forget, that when I have to judge you, and I will, I will have to use exactly the measure you have used on others.”

We have looked at four cases where men suffered the consequences of their own judgment. ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, We have to listen to ourselves.  I have to listen to me. I must listen to what I’m saying about other people because I suddenly realize I’m talking about my own failure.

Remember Paul made the illustration with the “resonance” phenomenon.  If you press the pedal on a piano that releases the mutes on all the strings, and strike one it will also vibrate and cause all other strings tuned to it to make a sound.  Stand two guitars side by side that are tuned to the same frequency then pick any string on one the same string will vibrate and sound on the other. A choir is in perfect tune when they note the sing in unison causes sound to resonate from anything in the room.

What I judge in other people are my own sins.  I see them clearly when I see them in you, and am blind my own. The hardest job that God has is to help me see me as I really am. His Salvation is adequate to my needs, but until I recognize my need it is not appropriated.

When we quickly judge someone we have to look at that and wonder if it is our sin or theirs.  Paul said that he never told somebody off for something they did without doing exactly the same thing within 24 hours.

 

People are so upset about things in life because they have problems with those things.  Let somebody like the woman in John 8 get caught in a situation watch how many fingers point.  Jesus said, “O.K. if you don’t have any sin, kill her, by the law stone her. Why did not anyone throw a stone?  They looked at themselves and decided that they just were not worthy in taking that responsibility.

This fits the golden rule as it makes me discover myself.  You can add forgiveness to this category.

 

Dr. Paul Stanley Knecht, as a teenager, sat under Bro. R.H. Boll in Bible class at Portland Christian High School and for years every Sunday at Portland Ave. Church of Christ until Bro. Boll died in 1956.  He became very close to Bro. Boll and was a great help to him in various ways. Dr. Knecht graduated from Portland Christian School and the University of Louisville with a degree in Chemistry. He held an important job in industry until he resigned to join the Portland Christian School Faculty.  He went on to earn a PhD at Michigan State. He was an avid writer on many subjects, including having written a study guide called ‘Logic of the Bible’.  Dr. Knecht passed away in 2012 at the age of 82.

 




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10