The Golden Rule: Love your neighbor as yourself.
I bet if you stopped a random, professing Christian on the street and asked, “Who gave us The Golden Rule?” their confident reply would be, “Of course, Jesus did.”
I’m here to challenge that. I mean, if we’re going to Love Like Jesus, don’t you think we ought to know how He thought we should love?
Love your neighbor as yourself, is pretty easy, pretty safe as rules go. It leaves the measure of love open ended, held only to a very subjective and personal standard. Any moralist happily endorses The Golden Rule.
It leaves a remnant of plausible morality for an unbeliever; you don’t have to believe in
Jesus to obey it. The Golden Rule creates generous atheists and friendly agnostics. In the end, usually The Golden Rule is quoted with an index finger pointed at someone else’s chest, while the speaker happily forgets that there are three fingers pointing right back at himself.
You sir, how do you love?
So, if Jesus didn’t leave us with The Golden Rule, who did, and what did Jesus command us to do?
In Matthew 22:37, Jesus quotes The Law of Moses in response to a question. The greatest commandment given through Moses was indeed, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.”
But, if you lived in the days of Jesus, would you be content to simply hear a sermon, then head off about your normal duties? Or, would you have been a disciple?
Wouldn’t you want to follow Him everywhere, ply Him with questions, sleep under the stars on the Mount of Olives with Him, be ever so intimate with the Man who loved you like no one else ever had?
If so, then let’s follow Jesus to a private place. I want to hear His words reserved for the company of His hand-picked friends; be one of those who would have experiential understanding of this love.
Let’s share the Passover with Him one last time and be attentive to His final words in the sacred setting:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples.” To be known as His, it is not enough to love others as we love ourselves. As mentioned before, anyone can do that.
At the end of his life, the same man who recorded Jesus’ instruction to love others as He loves us, the man who called himself, “the disciple Jesus loved”, felt burdened to remind us of that commandment and to describe that love more explicitly.
Read 1 John 4.
To love as Jesus loved us, is to:
- Love before we are loved (1 John 4:10)
- Love beyond the world’s standards of reason
In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus says over and over, “You have heard it said…, but I tell you…”. Jesus offers and demands something far different than moralism.
- Love verbally, confessing Christ and crediting Him as the one who first loved us (1 John 4:15)
- Love others before they repent (while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8)
- Believe and never forget the love God has for us, even when we fail to love as He did. We cannot continue to love as God does if we forget He loves us in our failures.
- Love fearlessly (1 John 4:18)
Jesus demands of His followers far more than the world expects. At the same time, He has not left us without means. Let us follow Him closely and learn from Him.
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” John 14:27