This Jumpstart is for ages 3 & up, meaning you could probably ask a toddler what the “Golden Rule” is, and they would come close to saying what is written in verse 12 of this passage—”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (or as the ESV puts it: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”) This is something that many people in our culture can tell you, but often this idea is used in a context of self-righteousness; “if I do more good things for people than bad, that means I am a good person.” This might fit the context of the culture, but it doesn’t fit the context of the passage.
As we have seen in the last few days of going through the Sermon on the Mount, this discourse shows us the radical call that Jesus gives those who follow Him; so radical in fact, that we are unable to be a follower of Jesus without the grace extended to us by Jesus. It is radical grace that leads us to radical devotion. And we see in our passage today that it is not easy to follow Jesus.
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.”
It is interesting that what we know of as the Golden Rule is in the same section as a statement on how hard it is to truly follow Jesus, and then a section on looking at the heart of a person and not just the religious exterior. So this, along with the broader context of the Sermon on the Mount should lead us to see that doing good to others should be a result of the inward change of grace that exists in the heart of those who have been saved by Jesus. Doing good things does not lead to God’s approval, but it should be a result of it. There is a pattern in the New Testament (read 1 John) that shows us that the proof (fruit) of whether we truly know God is shown by how we love (do good) to other people.
As you think about how this passage applies to you, you need to think about what the way you treat other people says about how you love God. If this is something that you need to grow in, realize that God’s grace is abundant and that the Holy Spirit can change that in you. Take some time and examine your heart today, asking God to change your heart to love Him and others through his grace.
By: Graham Withers