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The Great Commandment and the Golden Rule


The Great Commandment and the Golden Rule


quote:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)



I find an interesting relationship between what we often refer to as the "Golden Rule" (Matthew 7:12) and the greatest of the commandments. Please notice that Jesus uses similar terms to explain the importance of both of these great Bible truths: On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. and this is the law and the prophets.

In both instances given above, Jesus was teaching people about the heart of true Bible religion. While it is true that Jesus was not afraid to confront any particular issue that was in violation of the principles of God's Word, He nevertheless majored on the great underlying truths of God's Word themselves. To put it another way, Jesus kept the various issues in their proper place, peripheral, while treating the central teachings of God's Word as of utmost importance, paramount.

Again, Jesus was in part addressing the Pharisees or speaking of them in some of the context surrounding both Scripture portions given above. In ]Matthew 22:35, we find that the one who asked which commandment was the greatest was indeed a Pharisee and a lawyer himself. In the other case, Jesus made direct and indirect references to the Pharisees throughout the Sermon on the Mount.

In one such place, He said, Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19, 20)

We do well to remember that the Pharisees were very intent upon making rules on top of rules that would protect themselves and others from getting too close to the possibility of breaking God's commandments. Their emphasis upon their own rules, however, became so great that they actually made the traditions of men to be more important than the very commands of God for which they professed such great concern (see ]Matthew 15:1-6).

Jesus strongly rebuked the Pharisees, legalists of His day, with far stronger rebukes than He ever gave to the most wicked of non-professing sinners. Note this one: But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Luke 11:42).

Here again we see Jesus going right to the heart of the matter. Yes, He said that they should be paying great attention to the particulars of every jot and tittle of the law of God (see ]Matthew 5:18); but, He said they should give much more attention and effort to the weightier matters including the love of God.


Love, the Wellspring of Faithfulness to God


The greatest and the second greatest of the commandments in the Old Testament were reiterated by Jesus in the New Testament: 1. Love God with all your heart, and etc.; and, 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. The keeping of these two greatest commandments are made possible by the shedding of His very own blood and by the sending of the blessed Comforter, the Holy Spirit, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:5).

While our hearts are full of the perfect love of God, we find joy in keeping His commandments. This same love is detailed in 1 Corinthians 13, where charity or agape, the love of God is depicted as the greatest of the graces (I Corinthians 13:13, but the greatest of these is charity). God keeps us by His own power through faith in Him, but the Bible says that faith worketh by love (Galatians 5:6).

If we love God and our neighbor as we should, we will have little if any trouble obeying God's rules. Righteous living flows outward from a heart full of God's love.


Loving Actions, the Practical Outflow of Love


When Jesus spoke of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, He was speaking of the practical application of the love of God in our hearts to everyday interaction with others. Paul wrote it this way, Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10) If we truly love our neighbor as ourselves, we will treat them as we would want to be treated.

How do we want others to treat us?

Just to mention a few areas we find in the bible:

Be kind and forgiving: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:32). It is inevitable that we will sometimes do wrong to others -- though it should only happen by mistake -- and, wrongs will certainly be done to us accidentally and otherwise. This is why forgiveness is necessarily a part of loving others. We all would like others to forgive us, and so should we forgive others.

Be careful what we say and have a good attitude: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (Ephesians 4:31). It is very painful to learn that people have been talking badly about us behind our backs. Let us be sure that what we say of others passes the test of love.

Be courteous: Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: (I Peter 3:8). Do we like it when others are rude to us? Let us then be courteous to others.

Pray for others: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; (I Timothy 2:1). One question I like to ask, if but rhetorically in preaching, is this, "Have you spent much time praying for those whom you think are compromising and heading into doubtful or sinful things?" Love will pray for them -- not at them -- with a true concern for their souls.

Give people the benefit of the doubt: Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (I Corinthians 13:7). Do you wish others would not think the worst but rather put the best construction upon what they see and hear of what you do and say? Love will help you to do the same for them.

Much more could and has been written about the practical Christian life. I have here but attempted to show some ways in which the love of God can flow out into our relationship to others.

Did not Jesus say, A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34, 35)?

So, are we keeping the Greatest Commandment and the Golden Rule? Or, are we rather, like the Pharisees, trying to keep every little rule and making new ones, because we are so afraid that we and others will stray from the holy way? I am not against rules, but let us be sure to keep these most important ones, for they will certainly keep us in the way that pleases God.

Yours in Christ,

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Last edited by BibleNote Writer, 21/Aug/2015, 12:06 pm


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Sincerely Yours in Christ,
The Bible Note Writer
Bible Notes
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