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Re-Thinking Rule #1

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(5/19) The Golden Rule Store

"Harkening back to the virtue that led to Penney's and America's founding, the idea of fairness strikes a chord that is missing in many businesses and Washington today -- treating others the way you want to be treated. It was this principle that guided James Cash Penney's creation of "the Golden Rule Store" -- one that revolutionized the treatment of customers and employees and changed the life of its founder as well.

Born the son of a Baptist preacher in 1875, Penney strove to live by Jesus' words known as the Golden Rule, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." (Matthew 7:12)

Unlike today's 99 percent/1 percent class warfare rhetoric, Penney willingly started as a clerk in a dry goods store and worked his way up to eventually open his first establishment in Kemmerer, Wyo., in 1902.

In Penney's Golden Rule Store, his respect for customers was a rare practice during an avaricious business era -- providing quality goods at affordable prices.

Penney similarly honored his employees -- whom he referred to as "associates" -- by offering them a share of the profits. His incentivized work force led to a rapid growth in business." (Source is the Washington Examiner) By the way, I donít know, how things are today, but I know that through the 1980ís J.C. Pennyís gave a tithe of their corporate profits for Christian ministries. Just FYI.

We are approaching the end of our study of the Greatest Sermon ever preached by the greatest preached that ever lived; our Lord Jesusí Sermon on the Mount. The theme of the sermon is the Kingdom of Heaven and the character and conduct of Kingdom citizens. Some have called this the Constitution of the Kingdom. Some hyper-dispensationalist believe that it isnít for the Church, but for the people who will be here when Jesus returns. But, Jesus Himself said, "For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21). And, Paul taught that all Christians are part of His Kingdom now saying, "We are giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. (Col. 1:12-13) Therefore our loyalty, allegiance, and obedience is due the King, now!

Verse 12 is a summary statement of the teaching part of this sermon. Next week we will look at the invitation and then the warning. It begins with the word, "Therefore," which always should make us ask, "Whatís it there for?" Some think it is the conclusion of the chapter 7:1-11, but I believe it is a conclusion statement of the whole sermon because of the reference to the law and the prophets, first mentioned in 5:17-20, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. We refer to Matt. 7:12 as the Golden Rule because of its supreme quality and place in Jesusí teaching. Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

I want to make 5 observations about verse 12.

I. It Reveals the Law of God Ė Jesus our Lord says so. All of the teachings of the Prophets and the instructions of the Law for interacting with people can be summarized in this statement. There are laws for returning lost property, not coveting your neighbors stuff, using just scales, not lying to or about others, etc., are all summarized in this statement. Though the word, "Love," is not used here, Jesus our Lord connects this with Loving others as the second greatest command in the whole Bible, with only loving God having greater importance (Matt. 22:35-40). It summarizes what He taught us in Chapter 5 about reconciling and not staying angry, not lusting, not lying, not taking foolish oaths, going the extra mile and loving our enemies, and, in this chapter, about not judging by appearances, or revealing otherís sins before we deal with our own, and how to respond to dogs and hogs. This is the way that Old Testament Law fits in the New Testament. The horizontal laws are summed up in these few brief words. Listen to other N.T. writers.

A. Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom. 13:8-10)

B. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Gal. 5:14)

C. If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors (James 2:8-9)

II. It Responds to the Lordship of Christ (Luke 6:27-46). While it is absolutely true that no one is saved by the deeds of the law, it is also true that no one can call Jesus, ĎLord,í unless they are obedient to Him no matter what. Luke 6:46, is as if He is saying, "Either do as I have taught you or donít call me ĎLord." To say, "Lord," implies obedience. We treat people this way, because our Lord has told us to and He modeled this for us. It is the way of righteousness. It is the way of Grace, Mercy, and Humility. Remember Micah 6:8, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

There are 3 things I want to point out to you here.

1. This Rule is Positive, Not Negative. This does not say, "Get them before they get you," or, do unto them as they have done unto you." This is not based on past experiences. It is not based on what people have done to you. It is based on what you would prefer to have done to you. Nor does it say, "Donít do to otherís what you donít want done to you." By the way there are many religions and philosophers that say this rule in a negative way.

ē The book of Tobit in the Apocrypha (if you have a Catholic Bible) says, "What you yourself hate, to no man do."

ē The Rabbi Hillel said, "What is hateful to yourself, do not to someone else."

ē Confucius said, "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."

ē The Greek Philosopher Epictetus, "What you avoid suffering yourself, do not inflict on others."

ē An ancient Greek King named Nicocles said, "Do not do to others the things which make you angry when you experience them at the hands of other people."

But Jesus said, "Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them."

2. This Rule is Active, Not Neutral. This does not say, Iíll leave you alone if you leave me alone, or I wonít get into your business if you wonít get into mine. This takes initiative and sometimes some planning. It says, to think of what you want done to you and then do thatÖ It is asking oneís self, "How can I be a blessing toÖ.." Therefore, it is not just re-active, it is pro-active. It doesnít just wait until someone does or doesnít do something good or bad toward you, it thinks, what do I want from others, or What would I want if I were in their shoes? It begins by thinking of the things I want. Respect, affirmation, honesty, encouragement, help, grace when Iím not loveable or when I make a mistake, like in traffic; sympathy when I am hurting; space when I am stressed; help when I am overwhelmed; forgiveness when I have messed up; hospitality when I am alone or away from home, and, well, you get the idea. Then you do that for others. Maybe you ask yourself this question that Debbie and I try to ask each day, "Whose life can we touch today?" Did anyone drive Harney road this last week? I donít know who Karen is or who hurt her, but whoever it was, he was sorry, and wanted everyone to know it with signs like the old Burma Shave signs along Harney road.

3. This Rule is Inclusive, Not Partial. This is not just for your friends, nor is it just for your kind. This is not just for those who have been kind to you in the past. While it includes those, it also includes your enemies, strangers, irritable neighbors, your spouse, your children, your co-workers, and on and on. Our Lord makes this clear in Luke 6:32-35, and Matthew 5:45-47, and the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. And if for no other reason, I am doing this because the One who died and rose for me and rescued me wants me to. He is Lord

III. It Reflects the Light of God. Remember back in 5:13-16, our Lord told us that we are the Light of the world; the only light. But we are lights like the moon. We donít produce our own light we only reflect the light of the Son. Remember that Jesus said that God is good to the unthankful and the evil (Luke 6:35). This is the way, the only way that the world will see God; that is, the truth of what God wants to do in their lives. Paul said in Ephesians 5:1-2, and 8-10, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aromaÖ For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord." They arenít going to get it from our preaching. Have you noticed that the un-churched are not beating our doors down to get to in? They arenít going to get it from our condemning of politicians that we are opposed to? They arenít going to get it from our trying to legislate morality. I will never forget reading an article that says much of the world knows more about what we are against than what we are for. Some sage once said, "You may be the only Bible that People will ever read." Paul says it well in Philippians 2:14-15, "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world," And the only way we can show them is by, "Hey, Rule #1."

IV. It Releases the Love of God. It is here I wish to camp for a few moments. Godís love is contained inside the lives of those who believe. Paul says so in Romans 5:5, "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Because you have received the love of God by receiving Jesus and because The Holy Spirit of God lives in you, we are to be people who release the love of God on this world. Love is seeking the best for others, without regard of receiving anything in return. Paul said that good preaching, miracle performing, self - sacrificing, and charity giving are nothing apart from love (1 Cor. 13). Love is not mere emotions, love is an action, an act of your will. It is choosing to benefit someone else for their good. Jesus said that loving oneís neighbor as yourself, from Leviticus 19:18 and 34, is the highest horizontal law there is. When a lawyer asked Jesus in Luke 10:25-37, what was required for eternal life, Jesus asked him what he thought the law taught and he responded with Deut. 6:4 about loving God with all oneís heart and Lev. 19:18 about loving oneís neighbor as himself. Jesus said, "Right on Mr. Lawyer, you do that and you got it." But when he asked who his neighbor was Jesus told him the story of the Good Samaritan. It is the story of a man who helped a wounded enemy at great expense to his wallet and time, without thought of being repaid, simply because a human being, created in Godís image was hurting and needed help. If you were robbed, beaten, stripped, and left for dead, would you want someone to stop and help you, even a radical Muslim? Be honest.

I am convinced, at this stage of my life, that the best way to win people to Jesus is not by inviting them to church. That is a good way, just not the best way. I am also convinced that the light of most of our churches in America is a very low wattage. We have the truth but we use it to condemn rather to heal. We talk a lot of love but show little. My wife and I had a rocky start in our marriage. One of the reasons why is we didnít know how to love. WE/ I thought love was what I received. I would say, "I Love You." She would tell me, "If you loved me, you would change a diaper, wash a dish, vacuum a floor, and watch the children so I can have a quiet bath without the kids yelling, "Mom." I could say, "Honey baby, sweetie pie, sugar plum, apple dumpling, you know I love you," and she would say, "Love is more than words, it is an action. Anyone can say, ĎI love you.í" And she was right. Jesus said to Peter, "If you love me, you will feed my sheep." If we love Jesus we will want to feed Sheep, nourish lambs, care for the lost and hurting. Itís that simple. Do you love Jesus? Think before you answer. Love is an action word. What are you doing? Donít wait for Pastor to start a program. Open your home and hang a shingle and start loveing people.

Jesus said in John 4: 35 Do you not say, ĎThere are still four months and then comes the harvestí? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ĎOne sows and another reaps.í 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors."

It often takes tough times for people to be ready to look up and receive grace from God. Pain often produces a desire for healing. If we look for people in pain, (maybe pain that we ourselves have experienced), we will be able to show people Jesus.

Listen to me, if you have been asleep, wake up for the next few moments and listen. Following Christ is more than going to church on Sunday morning and condemning the abortionist, the gun control lobbyist, the same sex marriage people, and those who donít want God in government people. We will reach people and show them Christ and release the love of God when we ask what needs to be done and then we do it. Let me give some suggestions. These are things we can do without a church building, but you will have to use your home or a restaurant or something like that.

ē How many of you have lost a loved one by death? Every day, there is an obituary column in every newspaper. Start a Grief Support group. You know that the days and weeks following a funeral are hard and lonely. You need the support and love of those who have walked this road already, they are the only ones with the right to speak into your pain. Focus on the person and promises of Jesus.

ē How many of you have or had a Prodigal child. Regardless of age, they have left either the faith or left you for a life totally different than that which they were raised. Start a Parents of Prodigals group to help and encourage and to pray for one another.

ē How many of you ever drank or used drugs? We need a Celebrate Recovery Group in Emmitsburg. AA is good but many of the AA groups refer to God as a higher power of oneís own choosing, and people need to know that Jesus is the higher power like in the Home Run movie. Addiction is a terrible thing regardless of whether it is self-inflicted or not. Jesus is the cure

ē Anyone been through a divorce? Was that painful? How about a Divorce Recovery Group, which emphasizes the grace and healing of God in Christ.

ē Or Single Parents

ē Or Families of the Incarcerated

ē Or Coping with Cancer

ē I know that he isnít looking for applause, but I admire Steve for opening up his office on his day off to do a Menís Fraternity group. Listen, Men donít know how to be men anymore. Our young men donít know if they should be Marines or Mr. Moms. They canít tell you what a definition of a man is or what a man is supposed to do. From the mid-seventies on, men have been confused. Men need to know how to be men and Menís Fraternity is a wonderful way to teach them.

ē Women donít know either. Whether it is Women of Faith or Women of Purpose or whatever, we need, according to Titus 2, mature women who are willing to teach younger women, how to be women.

ē There are people who donít know how to use a credit card or balance a check book. Ben and Jen have known the difficulties of finances and how to handle them Godís way and are using that to help others with Financial Peace University.

ē After school programs or clubs for latch key kids.

ē Good news clubs for Child evangelism

ē Prison Fellowship for inmates

ē A place for College kids away from home.

ē A Clothing Closet for Kids of low income families, or food pantries

ē Debbie and feel very strongly about doing a Shepherdís Shelter for Pastors who have been wounded in the line of duty. Thatís why we did the retreat last year and would like to do more. We want to encourage Pastors and their spouses, and congregations and would like this congregation to be part of that.

One of these days, we all will stand before our Lord, and though I donít know exactly what He will say, I will imagine it will include, Whether we called Him Lord and if we cared about people. I imagine it will include how we demonstrated Love to Him by Feeding His sheep Like in Matthew 25 and Isaiah 58. I remind you again of the Old saying, "Only one life, and twill soon be past, only whatís done for Christ will last."

V. Results in Lives Changed for God

That wounded Jewish man had his life changed because a Samaritan loved his neighbor as himself. A Samaritan woman and her town were changed because Jesus spoke truth and grace into her life.

A Lot of fruit has softened and ripened under the heat of the pains and needs of this life. You may be the laborer God has chosen to send to harvest it so it isnít lost.

You may not be able to heal every disease or turn water into wine, but you can release the love of God and help to heal the wounds of life as you demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ, and again, when people know how much you care, then they will care what you know about Jesus and His grace. Jesus said, "Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." Hey, it Rule #1

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Do You Know Jesus? If so, are you following Rule # 1?

If this has spoken to your heart, write to me and tell me, or ask me whatever you want about knowing God or having a relationship with Him.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman