Therefore all things, whatever things ye will that men do to you, [and] do ye to them, for this is the law and the prophets.
Almost every person – at least every person who grew up in the Western world – knows this saying of Jesus. Jesus says, “If you want it done to (or for) you, then by all means be sure you do it for (or to) others.”
Don’t be spewing hate at other people if you don’t like hate spewed at you. Don’t throw rocks at dogs if you don’t want dogs to bite you. Don’t drop a nuclear weapon on your enemy if you don’t want a nuclear weapon dropped on your neighborhood. Don’t steal from your government if you don’t want your government to steal from you. Don’t cheat on your spouse if you don’t want your spouse to cheat on you. Don’t whisper and gossip about poor Mrs. Jones down the block if you don’t want Mrs. Jones to whisper and gossip about you.
And so on.
Except Jesus says one more thing. He says that the so-called Golden Rule is the sum – the whole – of the Law and the Prophets. The Golden Rule is the whole shebang.
Yes, yes! I hear you. The first part is critical to the second part – Jesus says to love the Lord your God with your all, with everything you have, everything you are. But He also reminds that if you do not love the one you see next door, how can you possibly love the One you can not see!
We speak of Jesus fulfilling the Law because He obeys His Father in Heaven in all things. When He picks the heads off the standing grain so as to feed His hungry disciples, He says the Sabbath is made for the Lord, not the Lord for the Sabbath. When He heals on the Sabbath, He rhetorically asks whether it is right to do good on the Lord’s Day or evil — implying that doing nothing for others just because it is the Lord’s Day is tantamount to evil. Paul sums it up in one beautiful statement:
“The one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Paul writes that three remain: “faith, hope, and love.” Then, he writes that “the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) “One and the same Spirit is active in all these;” (1 Corinthians 12:11) but the greatest spiritual gift is love.
Recently, I’ve heard Christian love poo-poohed with a resulting twinge in my heart. Yet Jesus clearly teaches us to love one another, that love is required if we are to lay down our lives for one another, and so for Him. Without love, our other gifts bring us to nothing. Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
“When the perfect comes, the partial comes to an end. When I am a child, I speak like a child, I think like a child, I reason like a child. When I become [an adult], I put aside childish things. For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but I will know fully, as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:10-12)
In Jesus knowing me is my salvation. Because He loves me, I am able to love myself and therefore to love others. Without love, I am nothing.