Sermon on June 22, 2021
KaB FKB (Andreas Latossek)
STANDARDS THAT CHALLENGE
„The golden rule“
“Matthew, 7, 12”
We just got to know the Golden Rules in the play. I ran into a few more in preparation: Construction Worker’s Golden Rule: No matter how much work there is to be done, the loudest one starts at 7 a.m.
Or the golden rules of administration: we’ve always done it this way. We have never done that before. Anyone could come.
It was just kidding now, of course. But there are many golden rules in various areas of our life, e.g. the golden rules of communication or golden rules for a successful partnership or friendship.
And they all ultimately go back to a verse from the Bible that has come to be known as the Golden Rule and try to apply it in everyday life. Whether you consider yourself religious or not, we all live by this rule in some way. The Christian faith is not alone with its golden rule; all other religions also know something like a golden rule. But we will see later that there are definitely big differences. I read the verse from Mt.7,12 to us this morning:
Luther:Now whatever you want people to do to you, do it for them too! That is the law and the prophets.
KJV: “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.“
Some of you may now hope that the length of the sermon will be in proportion to the length of the Bible text we are talking about today. Unfortunately I have to disappoint you. Before we go deeper, I would like to go into the context in which this Bible verse stands.
For weeks, we have been dealing with the most famous sermon of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus speaks to his followers, but the others also stand outside and listen. So no matter which group you belong to, there is something for you today. In this sermon Jesus speaks about the lifestyle of the people who live with him, i.e. the inner circle – and it should be completely different from that of the other people around. And I’ll try to clarify the structure of this sermon with a drawing, because it might help one or the other to understand:
Jesus makes this different lifestyle clear with the Beatitudes, that there is another standard for being happy and that he wants to give us this fulfilled life. This is basically the introduction, and we should make a difference with this lifestyle and be salt and light, infect others.
And now Jesus starts with the outer framework, with our visible actions. He speaks of God’s standard, God is perfect, and so the commandments also reflect that perfection. But Jesus rearranges our dealings with them. They show us that we cannot earn our relationship with God and heaven on this path. Jesus made this particularly clear to the pious of that time, the Pharisees. Because we can’t keep the commandments. The Pharisees misinterpreted them to make it work somehow, and Jesus says: No, the commandments are meant much more blatantly.
Killing does not start with killing but with the words, adultery does not start with sleeping with the other but with the look after him, etc. It makes it clear that we need God’s forgiveness, that we need Jesus, who died on the cross for our guilt and wants to give us reconciliation with God. And this makes it clear that we need God’s help to live like this, because Jesus says that he will not do away with the commandments. They are good.
But they have a different status, namely to be guidelines for a successful life.
“Do not think I have come to break the law and the prophets’ ordinances. I did not come to override them, but to fulfill them and make them fully effective. Mt 5:17
So Jesus introduces this part, and has that in mind for later. And then Jesus gets to the core, the center of the other lifestyle, which is the relationship with God. And it should not only be pious on the surface, but genuine and deep and God should be the focus.
It is about giving, praying and fasting and it becomes very clear in our dealings with money and possessions, with our needs and with our worries.
Jesus makes it clear that God cares for us when we put him at the center. The inside shapes the outside, without the inside the outside is always only a pious appearance or one’s own effort. If the inside is not right, all else is a wasted effort. That is why belief in Jesus is not first action, but a relationship from which our action grows.
And then we come back to a level where Jesus says that we shouldn’t judge each other if people live differently. The people without God, because they live according to different standards and God will one day judge, but neither the people with God. But it is true that we are allowed to address misconduct and, especially among fellow believers, it is not a sign of love to let the other go on a wrong path. And then Jesus speaks about how we can live like this at all, differently and with these guidelines that God gives us, and he says that it does not come out of you, but only in the relationship with God, through asking, through searching, by knocking, and then we will be received. And the golden rule is now like the conclusion that sums up the outside again. In short, it shows how we should live, depending on the core being right and not detached from it.
Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to override the law and the prophets’ ordinances. “Treat your fellow men in everything as you would like to be treated by them yourself. That is what the law and the prophets demand. ”
And finally Jesus makes it clear again that this path of the other lifestyle is not easy, not a broad path, but that it is wise to go this path and to live what Jesus imagines.
The Golden Rule is again something like a summary of what we have already looked at when dealing with the commandments and how we express criticism, and at the same time it extends this to other topics that Jesus has not already taken up here as examples. This is important because it means:
1. The Golden Rule is not the way people are saved.
People are saved through faith in Jesus. In Eph. 2.8-9 we read:
Your salvation is truly pure grace, and you receive it through faith alone. You didn’t do anything to it yourself, it is God’s gift. You did not deserve it by doing anything; because nobody should be able to boast about anything.
So the Golden Rule is not the way people are saved, but:
1. The Golden Rule is the standard of how people who live with Jesus should treat others.
2. The Golden Rule does not stand alone.
When Jesus says that the Golden Rule says what the law and the prophets demand, it reminds us of another passage in the Bible:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your devotion and with all your mind! This is the greatest and most important commandment. A second is just as important: love your fellow human beings as you love yourself! With these two commandments everything is said what the law and the prophets demand. ” Mt. 22: 37-40
The golden rule is related to the double commandment of love. Walter Klaiber writes in his book “Built on Rock”:
The love commandment gives the golden rule human warmth and the golden rule gives the love commandment reasonable plausibility!
The double commandment of love is even more comprehensive. It includes this part of the relationship as the center, and from the love of God the way I love myself, how I would like to be treated, I should also treat the other. And here, too, the double commandment of love goes a little deeper, namely on the attitude of the heart, on the motivation from which the visible action towards the other grows. And at the same time we see here, we talked about it in the last year in the series ICH incomparably that some people first have to learn to treat themselves well. That there is also a limit to others, if I only fulfill the expectations of others and burn out myself in the process And for others, in turn, the challenge of living the self-love that is already well known to them in the same form of love towards one’s neighbor.
3. The Golden Rule is not something that we can create out of ourselves.
In Rom. 7.18 it says: The strength for good does not live in ourselves. We can manage to take on the good; but we are too weak to carry it out.
We can only live the Golden Rule in dependence and through the power of the Holy Spirit, as he changes us from within through our relationship with God and shows in situations how we should behave specifically. The verses before the Golden Rule are about and that God is happy to give us. Matthew writes here that God gives us good.
The parallel passage is Luke 11 and there it says in verse 13 that God gives us his Holy Spirit. So the good is the Holy Spirit, which we need to live as Jesus said, and Jesus asks us to pray for that Holy Spirit. Paul later writes: Become full of Spirit, so there is one more of the Holy Spirit that we can ask for the Holy Spirit to fill all areas of our life.
4. The golden rule is not passive.
We have already got to know the different currents in Jewish society and have heard of different rabbis who had different views, and so the Rabbi Hillel already quoted says: What you hate, do not do to anyone else. That’s the whole law. And Confucius and most other religions formulate what we know today as a proverb: “What you don’t want someone to do to you, don’t do it to anyone else.” But Jesus phrased something differently, and that is very important. Because Jesus formulates positively, actively.
The golden rule is active.
Treat people the way you want to be treated. So don’t wait, take the first step yourself. If it says in the German road traffic regulations: “Everyone has to behave in such a way that no one else is harmed, endangered or more than is unavoidable, hindered or harassed”, this does not mean that the other person should break down helps or takes a hitchhiker along when it rains. How about if someone came up to me and asked me if I love my wife and I would answer: Well, I never did anything bad to her. So for what happens in our society in some relationships that would be pretty good, but somehow my wife wouldn’t be happy with it, would she? It could also mean that I just left her alone. We notice where this behavior leads: It maintains an inner distance to the other.
However, as Jesus puts it, it creates closeness. Jesus asks us not to linger passively, but to actively do good to the other. So if I expect someone else to stand up for me if people talk badly about me in my absence, then I can start doing it myself if I see someone else talk badly about me. If I hope to be forgiven where I am guilty, I can start doing it myself – regardless of whether the other has already asked me for forgiveness or not. When I’m at home alone and I’m annoyed that nobody comes to visit me, I can go on my own to see someone else. As I said in the sermon two weeks ago, if I want to be lovingly and humbly exposed to wrong behavior, then I can begin to do the same with others And if I would like others to pray for me, I can start praying for others myself Fritz Rienecker says in the Wuppertal Study Bible:
“This word is also the solution to the social question, the basic rule of community life, the secret of personal and social well-being and peace in general!”
5. The Golden Rule doesn’t just apply to people who are close to me.
The Koran formulates its Golden Rule in relation to brothers and sisters in faith. So only towards them should I behave like that.
Jesus makes no distinction between people.
Yes, we even looked at that it includes everyone, even those who are furthest from me, my enemies. I should also treat them as I would like to be treated myself, whether they do that to me or not.
The golden rule applies to everyone
6. The Golden Rule requires that I be concerned about myself and others
If I am to treat others the way I want to be treated, then I first have to think about how I want to be treated in the first place. I can apply that to any area of life.
To take up the last two services: How do I want my partner to treat me? That’s how I should treat him too. Or how do I want to be criticized? I am supposed to criticize others in the same way. Asking me this question beforehand helps, especially in situations where I am inclined to react quickly. Someone pees on my leg and how do I react now? Do I hit back with words or in real life or do I think about how I would actually like to be treated?
We find that in such situations we need the Holy Spirit to help us behave appropriately. But I would like to go one step further. Last week Markus told about a couple where he makes and does in the relationship, and toil, and works where he can – keeping the house clean, tending the garden, etc., but his love doesn’t seem to get through.
The woman does not feel loved, she actually needs and wants something completely different. Maybe you know the 5 languages of love Praise and recognition, togetherness – the time just for you, gifts that come from the heart, helpfulness, tenderness.
Each of us speaks a different language and each of us can be addressed in a different area. Just because my language of love is gifts, that doesn’t mean that the other has them too. How important it is there, and I can also transfer that to other relationships, to think about the other person, what they actually need and want. If I only start out from myself, it will be loveless in the long run.
But when I worry about the other, it shows what he or she means to me. If you’ve never talked about it in your partnership, maybe this afternoon is a good opportunity to do that: What language do I speak, what does my counterpart speak and what does he or she want from me?
Of course, even with the best will in the world, there are always mishaps and misunderstandings that are simply due to our lack of understanding of the other. But if our motivation is right, then such misunderstandings can also be resolved. So to come to the example from the moderation, I would say that if someone means brutally well, then he must first check his motivation, whether he was really interested in the other person or not just his own opinion, his point of view, his whatever, and whether he has taken the trouble to put himself in the other person’s shoes, or maybe even to seek conversation in order to better understand the other person.
The Golden Rule is the standard of how people who live with Jesus should treat others.
The golden rule is related to the double commandment of love We can only live the Golden Rule in dependence and through the power of the Holy Spirit
The golden rule is active.
The golden rule applies to everyone
And the Golden Rule requires that I be concerned about myself and others.
A little simple verse, but living by the Golden Rule is not as easy as it first seems. But it is the lifestyle of the people who live with Jesus and he himself showed us how he came to this earth out of love, served people and even gave his own life. And maybe it’s a good way to ask yourself during the next few songs we want to worship God with:
How do I treat my partner?
How do I treat my children?
How do I treat my parents?
How do I treat my colleagues or classmates?
How do I treat my boss or my teacher?
How do I treat my neighbors?
Am I doing what Jesus said?
How do I want to be treated?
With active love?
Or do I have to ask God and others for forgiveness, maybe even go back to the core, the relationship with God and make more use of his power in my everyday life?