So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
– Matthew 7:12 (ESV)
Jesus was constantly being tested and grilled by the religious leaders of the day. Once, they asked Jesus what was the most important rule (commandment) to live by. Jesus answered them by saying we must love God first in all things and with everything we are. Jesus also said we must also love others in the same way we love ourselves. We call this the Great Commandment and find it recorded in Matthew 22:34-40.
The word “commandment” sounds like some rigid rule that has to be strictly adhered to. Put another way, it makes God sound like a “taker” — the giver of rules. The Commandments are really our Father’s wisdom to a full and good life. One of those pieces of wisdom is called the Golden Rule (shown above) and quoted so much that you might not have known it is from the Bible and given to us by Jesus Himself.
The Golden Rule calls us to treat others as we would like to be treated. Put another way, it instructs us to give to others in the way we would like them to give to us. It tells us to give first! And what’s up with this “Law and the Prophets?” What’s that about? Another rigid rule?
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Our original relationship with God was destroyed in the garden and would have stayed that way if not for Jesus. Christ’s birth, life and death on earth paved the way for a fully restored and loving relationship with God. Forever! God wants your love so much that He gave up everything He had in heaven to live here on earth – and He did it to fulfill a holy, just and perfect law (the Law handed down by God Himself to His messengers the Prophets) because we could never fulfill His perfect Law ourselves.
The Law and the Prophets is another way of saying that everything depends on this. Everything!
The legalistic leaders of Jesus’ day expected that strict adherence to the rules of the law was what God wanted of them. Note my emphasis on “wanted”. Nothing could be further from the truth. All that God wanted of them was their true and genuine love and that their love be shared with others.
The only rule that God asks us to follow is Love. God is Love and God gave to us His perfect gift of love in the person of the Christ child, born of a virgin and delivered into the hands of a humble carpenter, being Joseph of Nazareth, himself descended from the shepherd boy king, David of Bethlehem.
The truth is, God gave to us (through His Son Jesus) what He hopes to get from us, by giving us what He desires the most. Love. God didn’t make demands of mankind the night He spoke light into darkness through the womb of a young Nazarene girl and into the waiting hands of her husband to be. God gave! God demonstrated His love for us by living out the Golden Rule that we could love Him in return to fulfill His Greatest Commandment – to love Him first!
The only demand God made, was the one He made of Jesus; that Christ obediently fulfill every single letter of the Law and the Prophets to perfection! So much so that it forever and irrevocably restore our relationship with our Father in heaven. Christ Jesus did exactly that and nothing can, or ever will, change that fact.
So re-read Matthew 7:12 again and think about this: Who gave first on that starry night so long ago in Bethlehem when all heavens sang and the shepherds came to see the newborn King? God did! On who’s shoulders were all God’s demands laid? On Christ’s! Who loved us first? God did through His Son Jesus!
God loved us first and God made it all good because we could not! The only thing you or I can do is to love God in return, above and before all things with all our heart, mind and strength. (The Great Commandment) After all, your love is really the only gift you can give to the God who truly has everything!
This Christmas, make spending quiet time with God your greatest priority everyday; and share the love you get with those you meet! Presents are great fun when under the tree, but the greatest gift is our time and love that is wrapped in a hug, a high five, a holding hand, a hot meal or a kiss. A love that says, “I love you” out of an inexpressible joy that comes from loving the One who loved us first!
Keep the Faith and may God’s riches abound in you this Christmas and in all the New Year!