As Jesus begins to close the Sermon on The Mount, he sums up his teaching (and indeed “all the Law and The Prophets”) by setting forth what has come to be known as The Golden Rule.
Jesus assumes (rightly, of course) everyone wants to be treated with fairness, kindness, and mercy. Since righteousness is social harmony, it makes sense that the key to achieving it is to treat others as you desire to be treated. It is quite practical. Any group that expends all its resources on activities that create mutual benefit is going to be amazingly successful.
Jesus acknowledges the reality that we as humans pursue self-interest. That is presumed in His admonition. But also presumed is the reality that we often mis-perceive our own self-interest. Selfishness is self-destructive. Righteousness is about serving God in community, treating other humans as we would like to be treated, no matter their station.
Jesus concludes The Sermon on the Mount with a warning: don’t let false teachers distract you from God’s Kingdom. Follow the voice of the True Master. Seek His Kingdom. Pursue righteousness. Love and serve one another as co-laborers in Christ. And unite under Jesus who has spoken all of these things From His Own Authority. The false teachers are out to distract you, to feed the dangerously insatiable desires of the flesh. To be self-focused rather than others-focused.
The sum of the entire Bible is to treat others as we desire to be treated. Nested within this advice for living is the key to finding true success. Jesus called choosing this perspective a narrow gate, a path that is sometimes hard to see. It requires effort to see but guarantees success if followed. Not success we can demand, but success we can trust will be ours in due time.
This is the first in a series of five devotionals centered around The Lord’s Prayer. We hope this series encourages you to examine how and why you pray. We hope it unlocks some clarity around the power and purpose of prayer. And we hope it leads you to the heart of God.