Monday 11th March – Luke 6:29-31 ‘The golden rule’

Luke 6:29-31

We live in a society that loves making laws.  We pass between 25 and 50 new Acts of Parliament each year, and rarely repeal the old ones – although one major clear out in 1867 took 1,300 statutes off the book.  This love of creating rules and laws runs throughout every area of society – just to give two examples: I understand that the current UK tax code runs to 2,000 pages – and that’s just tax… or, in the area of justice, between 1983 and 2009 Parliament approved over 100 criminal justice Bills, and over 4,000 new criminal offences were created – 4,000 new offences!  Can you try to imagine what all of those might be – 4,000 new ways to break the law?  I suppose when you have tens of thousands of laws, then it gets easier and easier to break them!

In the kingdom of Jesus, however, you can reduce the whole moral law – the way that God wants to live among our fellow human beings – to just one golden rule.  Imagine that: just one rule!  And we find it here in today’s passage, v31: ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’

If we actually obeyed this rule, then we wouldn’t need any other laws.  If we truly treated others the way we would like to be treated, then our society would be one of perfect equality, peace and justice.  Love would indeed reign supreme, in every dimension of our society. 

We wouldn’t gossip or slander or tell lies, because we wouldn’t want gossip, slander or lies being told about us.  We wouldn’t cheat or steal because we wouldn’t want to be cheated or stolen from.  If we had something hard to say, we would say it gently and lovingly, because that’s how we’d want someone to say that to us.  The prisons would be empty, the courts would have nothing to do, and we could stack tens of thousands of pages of laws in the middle of Parliament Square and burn them, because they would all be redundant.

But Jesus knows our hearts.  He knows that the way most of us live is: ‘Do to others as has been done to you.’  Tit for tat.  Eye for eye.  We know that two wrongs don’t make a right – but we kid ourselves that it’ll make us feel better…. which of course it doesn’t.

This is why he gives us these bizarre sounding instructions about turning the other cheek and giving away more than we should: it breaks the cycle.  Tit doesn’t become tat.  Eye does not take eye, for then, if it continues (as Gandhi said), the whole world is blind.

This golden rule is the simplest and also the hardest thing in the world.  We need help!  We need the constant grace of God to enable us to do it – more on that tomorrow.  But today, pray for grace to break the cycle, to treat others as we would like to be treated.  It’s the way of Jesus, and, ultimately, the way of life.