TAKING SELF OUT OF THE GOLDEN RULE (PART III)
By Akin Ojumu
All kingdoms have decrees and ordinances that guide the conduct of the citizens. This body of fundamental statutes, governing principles, and established precedents is often called a constitution. In addition, there are customs and values which, while they may be unwritten, also dictate acceptable social norms and guide appropriate cultural etiquettes.
In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus laid down the code of conduct by which those under His sovereign rule shall live joyously and victoriously even through the trials and tribulations that the enemy of their faith brings their way. These rules of engagement are totally antithetical to the modus operandi of this world. The manifesto of God’s kingdom contrasts sharply from the systems of the kingdom of the world.
“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).
The Golden Rule, as the above Bible passage has come to be known, is an encapsulation of all the standards and rules that Jesus established in the Sermon on the Mount. As aphorisms go, this passage tops them all. A man who keeps the Golden Rule is a man who has fulfilled all that’s written in the Law and Prophets.
Rooted in Judaic traditions, the Golden Rule is the second half of a two-part summation of the Law of Moses. The first part is a command to, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This injunction deals with man’s relationship with God. It’s a call to total surrender to God with every part of being.
Only a man who loves the LORD with all his heart, soul, and strength can come close to fulfilling the second part of the summation of the Law of Moses, “Love your neighbor as yourself...” (Leviticus 19:18). And this is the part that addresses human relationships.
In the Golden Rule, the Lord Jesus calls on all those who believe in Him to a life empty of self. It’s a summon to a lifestyle that puts others first and self last at all times. Jesus enjoins His followers to do for others whatever it is they wish for themselves.
Without an expectation of reciprocation, Jesus commands believers to dispense favor to others even at a cost to themselves. This is an order to make oneself vulnerable and exploitable.
The Golden Rule is love without dissimulation, and not the “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours back” kind. It’s an unconditional love with no caveats. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. This is a higher calling of which an unredeemed world is incapable of obeying.
Apart from God and His grace, man can do nothing that’s truly good and not contaminated by ulterior motives. There’s no good without God. Only a redeemed heart can be considered a good heart. A man who has no relationship with God cannot fulfill the principles of the Golden Rule.
Until a man surrenders his life to Christ, he cannot live out the Golden Rule. It’s only a life totally yielded to the Holy Spirit that’s capable of doing to others whatever it is he wishes for himself.
Human relationships not rooted in God will always be self-seeking. Only a man into whose heart God’s love has been abundantly poured out through the Holy Spirit is capable of fulfilling the mandate of the Golden Rule.
“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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8).
When a child of God asks for help to be able to do for others what he wishes to be done for himself, he will receive help.
A true follower of Christ, who’s not a follower in name only, who seeks for grace to love his neighbor as himself, will find the grace he needs.
Unto the spirit-filled Christian who knocks on the door of God’s enabling power to put others first and self last shall the door be opened.