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The Golden Rule

Love Your Neighbor  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The objective of the law is for us to love others well

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Open the Series

The Golden Rule

Who doesn’t know the Golden Rule? I doubt there is a person in this room who can’t recite it or the gist of it. For the most part, if you gave people time to think about it, I think most people could figure it out.

Watering Down the Golden Rule - Be Nice

I was going to play this really cute video of kids talking about the golden rule. It was a little too long and a little too cute. The reason I wanted to bring it up was because it sent two messages about the golden rule. The first was the golden rule is universally found in every religious tradition and every culture. There is some truth to that, but that can also be misleading. One can think it is a quality inherent to humanity. Yet, it doesn’t take much to see that although the golden rule may be universally believed as good, it is not a natural human behavior. When was the last time you saw toddlers living out the golden rule. And, in our adulthood, we don’t seem to get much better.
The second issue I had was the that we often boil down the golden rule to basically being nice. If you ask , people will basically say it means, “Be nice to others.” I don’t know about you, but I am not sure being nice to other people is all that inspiring. It’s a greeting card that has little real-world practical value.
Telling people to be nice does not solve our worlds.
[Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure]

The Radical and Revolutionary Golden Rule

I would argue that this key truth from God’s Word has lost its power to change lives and its radical uniqueness because it has been watered down so much. It has become such a cliche, that we don’t actually consider what it means to us.

From Every Angle

Over the next 8 weeks, we are going to be diving deep into understanding and applying this truth. Now, you may be wondering how in the world you can preach 8 sermons on basically the same passage. Well, I have thought that myself. Yet, Wayne, Brandon, and I have been working on making each message unique and enlightening of this truth from an angle you may not have considered before.

First Use

Today, we are going to the first place it is mentioned in Scripture, the book of know, exciting right. If you don’t get that joke, you have never read Leviticus. Truthfully, it has been my desire to do a series through Leviticus at some point for the simple reason that it is a much neglected book. It is also one of the books where people most often stall out in their attempt to read through the entire Bible.

Explaining Leviticus

Just some basic info about it is that it is one of the first five books of the Bible, called the Torah. It reads like a legal textbook, because it kind of is.

Defining God’s people

Actually, it is of huge importance to God’s people. Before this book, God’s people were descendants of Abraham. Yet, what the law did was show God’s people how to behave like God’s people. To be one of God’s people was no longer a product of your ancestry, it was now a way of living. Before Leviticus, God’s people were a family or a tribe, now they could become a nation.
So in the book of Leviticus, you get page after page of detailed laws and procedures.

Jesus before Jesus

And for those reasons, it is also one of the last places people would think to find the golden rule. Most people think it was Jesus who established the golden rule, and, to be fair, Jesus does highlight it, but by finding it in the book of Leviticus, we see that God wanted His people to know it well before Jesus came along.
Leviticus 19:18 ESV
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Leviticus 19:17 ESV
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
Leviticus 19:34 ESV
You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
We see the Golden Rule is something that has reflected God’s character from the very beginning.

Where do you stand on rules?

Where do you stand on rules?
Where do you stand on rules? In my family alone, we have rule followers and then we have more exception makers. I won’t say who is who, but I am sure that your families aren’t too different.

The Two Sides

Some people like rules. They want to know where the lines are so that they don’t stray outside of them. They like the order rules bring. They like the clarity rules bring, rather than leaving things up to individual interpretations.
[Look for head nods]
Then there are those who aren’t fond of rules, choosing rather to pursuit a general spirit of goodness. They feel rules are too cold; they would rather feel what the right course of action should be rather than be told what it is.

Both can be good

The truth is that both can be good people. I don’t think you can argue that it is better to be one over the other. However, people on each side of the debate think their way is best.
So I find it interesting that the Golden Rule, which is generally seen as more of a feeling or spirit or intent rather than a hard and fast rule is found in a book of hard and fast rules. I am

Overview of Leviticus

If you flip through Leviticus (starting in chapter 11), you see these chapter headings addressing various regulations on certain subjects. Things like how to treat someone with infectious disease, what animals are permissible to sacrifice or eat. You see rules proper and improper relationships, ordinances for religious holidays and festivals. You get my point.
Yet, in the middle of all these regulations, you get chapter 19, which is a little different.

Be Holy!

The chapter starts with what I would call the overarching command.... be holy!
Levitucs
Leviticus 19:1–2 ESV
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
This verse sets the bar for God’s desire and expectation of us. If you were wondering what the point of all these rules, regulations, and commands was, it is the pursuit of holiness.
The reason holiness is expected is because of our relationship with God. You are to be holy because I am holy. Look at how the Lord phrases it. You shall be hold, for I the Lord your God am holy. In that brief little statement, God states who that He is our God and we are His people.
The pursuit of holiness has everything to do with who we are (our identity) in relationship to God, not our egos or about being better than others.

Overview of Leviticus 19

The chapter then starts to go into breaking down that broad command down into specifics.
Leviticus 19
Leviticus 19:3–4 ESV
Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God.
You see clear allusions to the Ten Commandments in those verses.
Verses 5-8 touch on sacrificial law
Verses 9-18 address social and legal laws
Verse 19 touches on practical laws about industry
Verses 20-22 talks about sexual relationships
Verses 23-25 go back to wise industry, this time agricultural
You see where I am going with this. Chapter 19 touches on the variety of laws that all have to do with the first command to be holy. And throughout the passage, we are reminded that the justification for every law is the fact that the He is the Lord.

An All Encompassing Holiness

We see that holiness is not simply about not having bad thoughts. Holiness isn’t even always about being moral (at least as we understand it). The pursuit of holiness is the desire to reflect the character and image of God in all things. And thus, God shows us how to pursue holiness in how we relate to others, wisely doing our jobs, how we relate to God Himself, and on and on.

Holiness is Even More than Rules

Yet, it isn’t just God’s actions or rules that make us holy, it is His heart. For in those two instances where the passage mentions the Golden Rule, we see that it didn’t have to.

Added to Understand

In both cases, I understood what was being asked without it. The golden rule seems to be added to indicate the motivation behind the rule, that drives the law. Laws, by their nature, are often prohibitions, things you shouldn’t do. Yet, the golden rule is something to which to aspire.
That takes the pursuit of holiness to a whole new level. We tend to see holiness as not breaking a rule. One might argue that the last verse of chapter 19 indicates that.
Leviticus 19:37 ESV
And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules, and do them: I am the Lord.”
Leviticus 19:37
Yet, by including the golden rule in the list of rules, it changes everything.
The command to be holy isn’t so much about how well we followed the rules, but rather how well we let the rules shape our hearts to reflect God’s heart

What’s the Point of Rules?

One might argue then, “What is the point of all the rules if God just wants us to have a good heart?” Why give us all these laws when it can be summed up in the golden rule?

We Need More than Our Feelings or Our Thoughts

The reality is that that is the world we live in today, in particular dealing with God or morality. People would say, “As long as I feel like I am doing good, then I am.” If I feel like I am being loving to others, then I am. One of the most common lines of thought today is that we don’t need God’s law anymore, we can do better ourselves. It’s like, “Thanks for the golden rule, but we got it now.”
This line of thought is typically called Humanism, but what it fails to acknowledge is that (at least in Western culture), the way we think of right, wrong, and moral has been largely shaped by Biblical morality and can’t see how morality is eroding the further we get away from
The problem with that line of thinking is that we aren’t the best judges of right and wrong. Scripture is pretty clear that the heart of man is corrupt.
Jeremiah 17:9 ESV
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Mark 7:21 ESV
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
[passage]Mark &;21
On our own, we really miss the mark. We need the law to show us, teach us, shape us in the area of holiness. We don’t truly understand the golden rule unless we study all of God’s rules. If the golden rule was the only thing that mattered, Jesus’ last words wouldn’t have been:
On our own, we really miss the mark. We need the law to show us, teach us, shape us in the area of holiness. We don’t truly understand the golden rule unless we study all of God’s rules. If the golden rule was the only thing that mattered, Jesus’ last words wouldn’t have been:
On our own, we really miss the mark. We need the law to show us, teach us, shape us in the area of holiness. We don’t truly understand the golden rule unless we study all of God’s rules. If the golden rule was the only thing that mattered, Jesus’ last words wouldn’t have been:
Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
matt 28:

Being Students of the Law

Thus, we ought to be students of God’s commands. We should be able to echo the words of
Psalm 119:11-12
Psalm 119:11–12 ESV
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!

Also Being Students of the Rule

Now, I don’t believe that there is anyone in here is going to argue that point with me. However, there is another side of that coin. Just as much as the golden rule is shaped and defined by understanding God’s law, God’s law is only truly understood when viewed through lens of the golden rule.
That is what we miss sometimes.
As Bible believing Christians, who study God’s commands for us, we can miss the point that He is looking for us to be rule followers, but rather that He wants to shape our heart to love like His does.
Even if we don’t always know the relation to the Golden rule, we obey as a matter of discipleship.

The Lens of the Golden Rule

When it comes to how we relate to others and our world, we should always frame our actions through an understanding of God’s Word and the question, “Am I loving my neighbor as myself.” If we aren’t, then we are not actually seeking to be obedient to God’s law. Our knowledge and our heart should seek to reflect God.
So, ask yourself this week, in whatever way you manifest your faith (which I hope is daily), “Am I loving my neighbor as myself?”
If you have the Christian t-shirt on or the bumper sticker, are you also driving in such a way that treats other drivers the way you would like to be treated.
If you have a Christian verse on your desk at work, are you also reflecting God’s love and truth by how you treat your fellow employees?
If you are abstaining from the un-Christian behavior of your friends, are you also demonstrating your care for them as well?
Do your social media posts demonstrate as much a passion for truth as they do for people to feel respected, cared for, and loved?
It is my hope that this church, Beach Bible Church, is a place where anyone, where people are treated they way they would have liked to be treated. And I honestly don’t think that we are too far from it.

Pray

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