Doing Good to Others

Matthew 7:12 GBFC May 5, 2019

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:12-14)

Much of what we learn in the Bible about how we are to think and act is based the character of God. Our passage this morning is this way. Verse 12 teaches us that we are to be gracious to others in our treatment toward them. This graciousness is to be like a mirror of God’s graciousness toward us.

How do we know that God is gracious? We know primarily because His Word tells us of His graciousness.

Psalm 86 is one such passage:

Verses 3 and 16 in Psalm 86 are the Psalmist calling on the Lord to be gracious. Which is calling on the Lord to act consistent with His character of One who is gracious because verse16 states that He is a gracious God.

Those verses say this:

3Be gracious to me, O Lord,(Psalms 86:3)

and

16Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. (Psalms 86:16)

Verse 15 says:

15But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Psalms 86:15)

Psalm 103

8The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalms 103:8)

Psalm 111

4He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. (Psalms 111:4)

Psalm 111 goes on to provide awesome examples of His graciousness:

5He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. 6 He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 8 they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! (Psalms 111:5-10)

And on and on:

Psalm 112

4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. (Psalms 112:4)

Psalm 116

5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. (Psalms 116:5)

Psalm 145

8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalms 145:8)

And so as we survey the Bible and as we learn about God and we find that He is a gracious, loving and giving God and if we understand that we have been saved to represent him in this world, then it makes sense that we too are to be a gracious people as we relate to and interact with people around us. We are called to put away selfishness and to put on graciousness in character. And the reason is because God has been so incredibly gracious toward us.

We have read of His graciousness and we know He is gracious because of what we have in His word. But I also want us to think about this very personally. Think of how God has been particularly gracious to you.

All of you woke up this morning, well that is if you went to sleep last night! You have food to eat, you have people who love you, you have clothes to wear, we have air to breath, and for believes, we have a future home, a promised future home in paradise with Christ as our leader, we have help in this life, we have God watching over us, we have been given much. This does not mean we don’t have troubles, but in our troubles we have a God who cares and leads and directs and comforts and carries us through it all!

God is involved, He is near and He cares. And he has all the power to affect our circumstances for our good. God is gracious, he is a gracious God!

This is in part what our verse is about this morning. We are to be gracious to our neighbors because God is gracious toward us. This is a high level overall view of our passage.

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

Now, I want us to consider some specifics. In some ways this verse is hard to get really specific about. When Jesus said, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” We are left wondering what does this mean? Everyone does not wish for the same things, You do not have all the same desires that I have and I don’t have all the same desires that you have, right?

And so, does this mean that I just project all of my desires and you and assume you want what I want and so treat you accordingly?

I really enjoy a cup of good coffee. I am not just really particular about many things, but I am kind of particular about coffee. I like good quality coffee. And I don’t put all that stuff in that masks its flavor, I like black coffee, good quality black coffee. So since I do, does it mean that in order to obey this command that I should get up in the morning and brew a really good cup of coffee so that it will be ready for Tammy in the morning? Well, I could do that but, one thing I know for sure, she would not appreciate it, not one bit. Tammy hates coffee, she doesn’t even like the smell of it. She would never appreciate or enjoy me giving her, making her a cup of coffee.

And so, I don’t think we can take this command too specifically especially conquering simple preferences which we all have and which can vary wildly, so how do we take it.

Well, what this means is, we are to love one another more than we love ourselves. Loving others is not pushing our preferences on each other. That would not be loving.

The scripture indicates that we have no problem loving ourselves.

Ephesians 5:29 shows us this:

There it says:

29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, (Ephesians 5:28–29)

This simply means that we have no problem, looking out for ourselves, taking care of ourselves and even providing what we want most for ourselves. We know ourselves and we know what we like, what we don’t like, we study ourselves. We know what we like to eat, what we like to wear, we know how we like to relax, what kind of music we want to listen to. We know when we want to talk and when we want to be left alone. We care for ourselves. The Bible says we nourish and care for ourselves.

It is in these ways that we are to treat others. We are to care for others, pay attention to what they need or even want, look out for the good of others. Isnt; that what you want from those close to you. Don’t you want people in your family or in our association of friends to care about you and for you? It is in this way that we are to do to others what we want them to do in our lives.

What then does this require? It requires a putting off of thinking only about ourselves.

It requires real sacrifice. It requires not just saying, I love you but really loving.

And again, this goes right back to the character of the Father and the Son.

Jesus sacrificed Himself for the glory of the Father and for our good.

Jesus came down from heaven, leaving His glory behind for a time, living among those He created to be mistreated by those He created, abused by those He created, accused by those He created, and dying for those He created. He chose to suffer, not just physically but to even suffer separating from his Father as the sins of the world were placed upon Him, as our punishment was heaped on Him, He chose this suffering to redeem you and me, a people for Himself a people to love.

He chose to love and that love was costly.

And thought none of us will suffer such extreme sorrow and pain in order to love others, we nonetheless are called to sacrifice by loving each other. And this means treating each other with much grace, treating each other the way we would like to be treated.

Now, is this just a good thing to do or is there more importance tied to it?

Let me answer that question by reading get last part of this verse.

Jesus said, “for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Now, what does that mean? The point is that this verse is the summation of the essence of the character God requires of His people in the OT.

It is very similar to how Jesus answered the question “which commandment is the greatest?” When asked this Jesus pointed to Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18 which called for love of God and love of others and then Jesus concluded with “All the Law and the Prophets depends no these two commandments.”

It is amazing, given the number of words, books, verses information, stories in the Bible that we can have one statement like this that summarizes all that is required of God’s people. We can make life and living so complicated, we can get so confused and over what we are to do and when we are to do things, and how to go about living in this world, we struggle with decision and complicated situations and fret over what to do next. And yet Jesus has said here that all the Law and Prophet are wrapped up in doing for others what we would like done for us, meaning love people that cross your path.

And this means all people as Jesus even emphasizes loving our enemies, right?

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 444 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:43–45)

Our duty and our joy is to be gracious to others, to love others.

This is being like Jesus.

In addition to Jesus we also see others in the Bible who lived lives of others for the Lord. I am reminded of Paul.

In Philippians as Paul sits in prison, separated from His friends and the ministry that he had so loved, He, it is like He in some way, by the Holy Spirit, turns his focus off of himself and chooses to focus on his fellow believers and their spiritual life and their good. He does not succumb to self-pity or depression. He rejects these things and says this:

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:8–11)

This I believe is a demonstration of Matthew 7:12. He was probably tired and maybe hungry and lonely alienated from fellow Christians, his future was uncertain in this life, his ministry disrupted. All this and yet he cannot help but pray that those he was estranged from would learn to love more deeply, more passionately, more fervently than they had as of yet. He longed for their good that they be filled with righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory of God.

I hope that were by the grace of God and for the sake of HIs name can in all situations, begin to express our love for our Savior by doing good for our neighbor even if it requires great sacrifice on our part.

Living for Christ is our calling, to life is Christ. The simply means living for His glory with joy according to His Word.

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:12-14)