Matthew 7:12-14

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:12-14

Here it is – The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Perhaps the most famous of Jesus’ teachings, right next to “Love one another as I have loved you,” it is echoed in every religious tradition, in every culture. It is short, sweet, simple, and to the point. It invites a life of altruism – doing the right thing by and for others because it is the right thing to do. And it is under assault in our culture today.

The most crass challenge plays with the words. “The Golden Rule means that those with the gold make the rules.” Largely, that is true. A high percentage of those serving in elected office are quite wealthy. Perhaps that is because their wealth has given them the means and the time to do all it takes to run and serve. Hopefully they are driven by a vision for the common good. Or perhaps they find themselves caught up in a self-perpetuating system of self-advancement and class protection.

A more subtle, yet quietly pervasive, assault on this idea of Jesus comes cloaked in the writings and philosophy of Ayn Rand. She argues that the kind of altruistic behavior demanded by the golden rule is the problem, not the solution, for many of the ills which befall us. She wrote, ““The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves. The relationship produces nothing but mutual corruption. It is impossible in concept. The nearest approach to it in reality — the man who lives to serve others — is the slave. If physical slavery is repulsive, how much more repulsive is the concept of servility of the spirit. The conquered slave has a vestige of honor. He has the merit of having resisted and of considering his condition evil. But the man who enslaves himself voluntarily in the name of love is the basest of creatures. He degrades the dignity of man, and he degrades the conception of love. But that is the essence of altruism.”

Rand’s vision of rugged individualism, every person out for themselves, flies in the face of the words of Jesus. Her philosophy undergirds a way of seeing the world that divides people into “makers” and “takers”, sees those who benefit from public subsidies as “parasites”, and opposes anything that would limit the freedom of people to live out of anything but their own rational self-interest.

Jesus follows his summary of the teachings of his faith – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – with a metaphor of divergent gates. A narrow, hard way, and a broad easy way. Clearly his intention is to help us see that the Jesus way of being is the hard, narrow, way. The hard way is the best way…but it probably won’t get you elected.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, thank you for your words which challenge us in our selfishness and complacency. Thank you for guiding us into lives of compassion and self-giving, following in your footsteps. This is a hard path and yet, trusting in you, we trust that we can do hard things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “Matthew 7:12-14”

  1. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Thank you for words of encouragement as we begin this week.

  2. Judy Says:

    I have heard some say this: “o unto others not as you would have them do unto you, but as they would like done unto them. It gives one a different perspective – and asks the question, how would the other prefer to be treated?

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