Relating to God and Others

KEY VERSE: “All things whatsoever you would that man should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the Law and the prophets.” —Matthew 7:12


THESE words of Jesus have since been designated the Golden Rule, and how much better off the whole world would be if this rule were observed by all! And it will be, eventually, when the work of restitution is complete at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ.

But even the Golden Rule is not the full expression of God’s will for the followers of Jesus. It outlines the operation of justice, whereas we are invited to walk in the way of love.

The Mosaic Law laid down the divine principle for the judges of Israel to follow: “an eye for and eye”—the exaction of strict justice. Generally this was applied improperly in their individual relationships, with the result that it cultivated hardness of heart, an exacting disposition which was pitiless, merciless. Our Lord’s teachings showed the error of this and pointed to the more excellent way—love.

Although the Heavenly Father was the author of the Law, he had also planned to show mercy and did show it in sending his Son into the world to be the Redeemer of sinners, that they might not perish, but have eternal life through obedience to their Savior. (John 2:16,17; Acts 3:23) How much more proper it is that fellow-sufferers, both imperfect, should be lenient, tender-hearted toward each other. Mark the Lord’s words paraphrased: “I say unto you that by requiring an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, in exacting justice of your imperfect fellows, you are encouraging an improper spirit in your own hearts.”—Matthew 5:7,20-26,38-42

Jesus instructs his hearers to cultivate generosity. As the Heavenly Father is always giving and never asking, so all his children should have this disposition and be ready to give something to anyone in need. The desire to give, to help, should by all means be cultivated in the heart of every follower of Jesus. And from those who would borrow of them, with the proper motive, they should not turn away. On the contrary they should generously lend, hoping for no similar favor in return. The Lord’s people might not thus amass as much money as others, but they would be pleasing and honoring their Heavenly Father, laying up treasure in heaven, and getting their own hearts into that condition which God could approve.

Tradition taught that neighbors should be loved and enemies hated; but the Great Teacher declared that enemies also should be loved and blessed, even though they returned persecution and injury. It was this new and high order of teaching which marked our Redeemer’s utterances as different from all others.

Jesus said the Heavenly Father sends the sunshine on sinners and on saints; the rain comes down for the just and for the unjust. It is difficult to estimate the amount of harm done to our minds by the traditions of the Dark Ages respecting God’s intention to torment his enemies eternally. Thank God that we have found that these teachings are not in the Bible! They made our forefathers heretic-burners. And again, thank God that we have received such an impetus to our faith in the knowledge of the divine plan which we find in complete harmony with the sublime statement, “God is love!”

Admitting the possibility of his followers exercising this glorious and godlike quality, our Lord asks, and we paraphrase his words: “If love be extended only to those who love in return, how would it be worthy of any special reward? Do not all men, love after this fashion? And if we are courteous merely to those who are courteous to us, wherein are we superior to Gentiles and sinners?”

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Since the Lord’s followers have fallen, imperfect bodies and brains, it is not possible for them to be perfect as God is perfect—except in heart, in intention.

The Jews had gradually lost sight of the divine standards and had filled their minds with certain traditions which were more or less contrary to the Law. Jesus was accused by the Rabbis of setting aside the Law, but he assured them, to the contrary, that he was merely setting aside human traditions, and seeking to establish the Law and have it understood more clearly.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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