THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT -- LESSON TWENTY-THREE
"The Golden Rule"
Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31
I. The words of Jesus in Matthew 7:12 are universally called "the golden
A. These words summarize the Lord's teaching in the preceding
part of the sermon on the mount, and they have wide appeal.
B. They speak of the attitude which disciples of Jesus should
manifest toward each other and toward all men.
C. They express one of the fundamental rules of life, and summarize
the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:35-40), which is
expressed throughout the New Testament: Romans 13:8,10;
12:10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8; etc.
II. OTHER RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND PHILOSOPHERS HAVE
EXPRESSED SIMILAR PRINCIPLES, BUT NONE SO POSITIVELY
A. Hillel: "What is hateful to yourself, do to no other."
B. Epictetus (a slave and cripple): "What you avoid suffering
yourselves, seek not to inflict upon others."
C. Socrates: "What stirs your anger when done to you by others,
that do not do to others."
D. Aristotle: "We should bear ourselves toward others as we would
desire they should bear themselves toward us."
E. Confucius: "What you do not want done to yourself, do not to
F. Jesus: "All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men
should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the
law and the prophets."
III. MANY LIVE BY LESSER RULES.
A. The iron rule: "Might makes right;" the rule of Cain, hate, etc.
B. The brass rule: "Do unto others as they do unto you"-- Good for
good; evil for evil; etc.
C. The silver rule: "Do nothing unto others that you would not have
them do unto you." The negative rule; naught men; Zero.
D. The golden rule is the rule of compassion, "the royal law" of love.
IV. The golden rule applies to all moral situations, and is of greatest
practical benefit. Man must not only be devout: He must be honest
and honorable in his dealings. Otherwise, devotion is hypocrisy.
I. THE RULE EMBRACES SOMETHING "GOOD" WHICH GOD
REQUIRES. (Micah 6:8.)
A. "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good."
1. If they did not know, it was their fault. God had made that
2. Only God can show what is good. (Jeremiah 10:23; Psalm
3. The golden rule, if practiced, would settle all private,
domestic, state, and national troubles; stop all gossip,
slander, unjust criticism, make jails and prisons
unnecessary, and banish riots and wars.
B. Essential elements in doing "justly."
1. A right concept of man's nature, worth, purpose, and destiny.
(Psalm 8; cf. Acts 10:34.)
2. Acceptance of the two great commandments as the guiding
principles and motive power of life. (Matthew 22:35-40.)
3. The ability and will to put one's self in the other person's
4. This rule is the underlying and governing principle in true
self control or temperance, causing one to act with
forbearance, justice, and kindness toward others.
C. It will cause us to keep all promises, always speak truth, do good
unto all, be honest in business, give honest days work for a day's
II. A BROAD RULE: "ALL THINGS THEREFORE WHATSOEVER..."
A. In thought; "Whatsoever things are just... think on these
1. Ideas are power; thoughts the foundation of virtue.
a. Thoughts build habits, shape character, govern life,
determine destiny. "Blessed are the pure in heart..."
b. Evil thoughts "defile the man." (Mark 7:23; Matthew
2. The just (righteous) is in contrast to the unfair, unjust-- and
is the rule of honor, decency, and sportsmanship.
3. To be truly just is to be right with God. God, Jesus, and the
plan of salvation are fully just. (Isaiah 30:18; Romans 3:26.)
B. In our judgments of others. (John 7:24; Matthew 7:1-5.)
1. "Whatsoever ye would that men should think about you, even
so think ye also about them." -- Frank L. Cox.
2. Nicodemus, a friend of Jesus, was fair and kind each time
mentioned. (John 3:2; 7:50-51; 19:39.)
3. Barnabas is a good example of one who practiced the golden
rule. (Acts 9:26-29.)
C. In all our deeds.
1. The Samaritan had compassion. (Luke 10:25-37; James 4:17;
1 John 3:17.)
a. He loved men more than his money. (1 Timothy 3:3.)
b. "Mine is thine, and, in your misfortune, I will share it."
c. Such men will use their time and invest their money to
help strangers or enemies, because men mean more to
them than money.
2. This class is willing to "spend and be spent." (2 Corinthians
a. Like Jesus, they build. They are "good."
b. These bless the world: They are plus men.
c. This is the heavenly rule: "Go, and do likewise." (Luke
3. Do parents deal with children according to this rule? Do
children treat parents as they want their children to treat
them? Do young men treat young women as they would have
all young men treat their sisters? Do husbands and wives
treat each other as they would like to be treated.
III. "WHAT DO YE MORE THAN OTHERS" IN LIVING BY THIS
RULE? (Matthew 5:43-48.)
A. "Ye" and "others" analyzed.
1. "Ye" refers to disciples of Jesus, Christians, children of "your
Father who is in heaven."
2. "Others" -- Pharisees, publicans, gentiles, pagans, sinners,
those in perverted religions, the deceived and misguided.
3. This passage plainly teaches that sons of God are definitely
expected to do more than the sons of men in matters which
distinguish those who walk in the light from those who walk
in darkness. (I John 1:5-7.)
B. Here is an area in which some "others" (sectarians, unbelievers,
pagans) reveal their character to their advantage and often to
1. Though often restricted (to their own) and also often done
from imperfect motives, their lives are not barren of mercy,
and it has its fruit.
2. We have no reason to expect "others" to show mercy. But all
who have received God's mercy have a supreme reason to be
merciful and just.
3. When the sons of darkness outshine the sons of light in this,
something is wrong.
C. The person who says the golden rule won't work betrays his
ignorance, or selfishness, or both. Most admit Christ to be a
great Teacher. But those who say the golden rule won't work
say, in effect, that the heart of his teaching is impractical or
D. "What do ye more than others" in this matter? In the home and
neighborhood? Is it "might makes right?" In work, business, and
play? Is it "Do him before he does you?" In the brotherhood? Is
it "Throw your weight around?" "That ye may become sons of
your Father.... ??"
III. ITS PRACTICAL BENEFITS.
A. It is a principle which can settle all difficulties and bring genuine
happiness between rich and poor, capital and labor, learned and
unlearned, man and wife, parent and child, brother and sister; in
religion, politics, and in business; in society, in the state, nation,
world. Its practice would make earth a paradise.
B. "If we could even almost put the golden rule into practice, we
would have no mental health problems. But we do." -- Dr. Wm. C.
C. We need to practice the golden rule for many good reasons: One
of them is that we never know when the situation will be
I. THE LORD'S CONCLUSION: "This is the Law and the Prophets." It
is the basic principle underlying all moral regulation and summarizes
the entire law.
II. THE GOLDEN RULE WILL WORK WHEREVER HONESTLY
APPLIED. But, like all rules, it may also be perverted and abused in
sinful ways for selfish ends. Don't abuse it!
-- Charles E. Crouch