One-Upping the Golden Rule

One-Upping the Golden RuleService - Nov 15, 2020
00:00 / 56:47

As best as we can, in unison let's say aloud the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Now, of course, there are some who say the more common and, therefore, more widely practiced Golden Rule is “do unto others before they do unto you!” But we know

otherwise, right? The real Golden Rule is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In modern English, treat other people in the same way that you want people to treat you. Who said that? If you said Jesus, you're correct. Both Matthew and Luke record him telling his listeners to do so (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31).

 

But did you know that this particular counsel didn't originate with him? Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Confucian, and Zoroastrian versions of it appeared 3,00-5,000 years before Jesus said it. So, Jesus was basically quoting a well-known bit of advice with which people from all walks of life and religions agreed.

 

So, seeing how it's stood the test of time as well as being cross-culturally recognized, from one to ten, how important do think the Golden Rule is? Most of us would probably give it a nine or ten. Who would argue against such sage and helpful guidance, right? Well, actually, many people would. The merit and the doability of the Golden Rule has been the topic of many philosophical discussions. And the fact is, as much as it sounds like really good advice, it actually poses a number of philosophical and practical problems.

For example, if you are a parent, should you really treat your young children as you would have them treat you?  If so, that would mean expecting your two-year-old to support you, teach you, protect you, and take care of your problems. Or, what if you had a vegetarian friend over for dinner, would you serve them pork or beef? After all, unless you yourself are a vegetarian or don't like the taste of beef or pork, you probably wouldn't mind being served that if they invited you to their home.

This is why some have suggested the adoption of a rule which utilizes a slight wordplay on the Golden Rule.  This adage has been branded the “Platinum Rule,” and it says, treat others the way they want to be treated. Following this version of the Golden Rule would certainly solve the problem of whether or not we should serve beef to a vegetarian or ask our children to shoulder our adult problems. We would treat them in a manner they would want to be treated.

On the surface, the Platinum Rule would seem to be a very good alternative, but even it creates some problems. In what manner should we do unto narcissists, who want to be treated like gods?  Or persons suffering from extreme low self-esteem, who don’t believe they deserve to be treated well? Or persons who come from a class-based culture in which those born into a ‘low class’ family would expect to be treated as such? Would you and I, not coming from such a culture, be comfortable treating them in a way we might consider contemptable? I’m not sure I would.

Maybe one solution is to consider another well-known relationship-building adage. Jews and Christians know it as the Second Greatest Commandment. It’s originally found the Hebrew Scriptures, and Jesus quotes it when he’s asked to identify the most important commandment in the entire Scriptures. Quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, he tells them the most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). For Jesus, loving God is first and foremost in all of life’s relationships. But he also knew that loving God would ring hollow if one isn’t also in loving relationships with human beings. You could say that we love God by loving others. And so he tacks on this commandment from Leviticus 19:18: “You must love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds pretty good; sounds very helpful. But guess what? It, too, creates a couple of problems. First, who, exactly is considered one’s neighbor? That was the conundrum Jesus’s questioners wanted answered. His answer was boiled down to any and everyone. If they’re a human being, and you come into contact with them, consider them your neighbor (Luke 10:25-37).

 

The second problem is not so easily solved. we all know that not everyone loves themselves. We know there are countless persons who, on account of any manner of dysfunctional human relationships, especially early in life, suffer from what we might call “self-hatred.” I’ve been asked by more than one person, “If I don’t love myself to begin with, is it even possible for me to truly love someone else?” But even if something as emotionally deep as self-hatred isn’t our issue, we can probably all recognize that there are simply times when many of us struggle to just be nice to ourselves. So how can we love better? Well, in true fashion, Jesus gives the answer.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus said to his disciples, “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other” (John 13:34). The context for this declaration is the Last Supper. The theme of Jesus’ personal sacrifice is found in all four Gospel writers’ presentation of the Last Supper. Matthew, Mark, and Luke emphasize that theme through the events of the meal itself, specifically, in Jesus’ self-identification with the bread and wine he passes around the table, telling them they represent as his broken body and blood that will be poured out in the coming hours.

John, on the other hand, emphasizes Jesus’ sacrifice by tying it to the idea of love, and he does so in two ways. First, he demonstrates it. It’s in John’s Gospel that Jesus the teacher, Jesus the Lord, Jesus the Son of God, humbles himself and washes his students’ dirty feet during that Passover gathering. It’s important to know that what he did would have been considered a huge social faux paus. By

and large, washing a person’s feet was the work of servants. In that society, no respectable rabbi would wash the feet of his students. If anything, it’d be the students who’d wash his feet. But Jesus turned that social norm on its head and washed their feet, making it very clear what he expected them to learn from it, and how he expected them to respond. He said, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you speak correctly, because I am. If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you too must wash each other’s feet.  I have given you an example: Just as I have done, you also must do” (John 13:13-15).

What does Jesus expect of his disciples? To wash peoples’ feet? Possibly. But more likely, he expects attitudes of humility and actions of service to those “lower” than ourselves. The bottom line: by washing their feet, an act of self-sacrifice in the eyes of their society, he demonstrated true love.

 

The second way he emphasized Jesus’ sacrifice was through the updating of an old but important Scriptural command.  Let’s return to that statement he made about loving one another in a particular way. I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.

Clearly, the command to love one another wasn’t new to them. As we’ve already seen, the command to love others was built into the Law of Moses. What’s new is the manner in which they’re now expected to love others. “Just as I loved you, so you also must love each other.” In what manner are they expected to show their love for others? Just as I, Jesus, have loved you. He tells them that from that point on, he expects them to love on other people in the same way Jesus loved on them.

 

And what, exactly, would that particular kind of love look like? Well, nowhere do we fine as good a word-picture of this kind of love than in Philippians 2. Follow along closely, and I’ll emphasize key words and phrases.

“Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus (which is this): Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:3-8).

The fact is, Jesus raised the bar with this new idea of love. No longer are we called to love others as we would like to be loved, or how we think they would like to be loved, or as we are able to humanly love. Now, with Jesus Christ living in us through his Holy Spirit, we’re called to love others with the same self-sacrifice that Jesus demonstrated – to actually consider others better then ourselves, more deserving than ourselves, if you will, and to a degree that it costs us something significant. A self-sacrificial love.

And, of course, this is exactly what Jesus did. In showing us the greatest gift of self-sacrifice through the cross, he teaches us how to love like God loves.

But I’d like to take this one step deeper and, I think more to the point Jesus was making. Yes, we’re called to love like God loves. In a way the involves some level of sacrifice on our part. The most godly love is the love that costs us something. But the point Jesus was ultimately making was that we’re called to sacrificially love WHO God loves.

Do you see where I’m going with this? When it comes to fulfilling Jesus command to love, we do so by loving the people he loves and cares about. Does he love and care about the likes of most of us? Absolutely! But the biblical witness is that God has a special place in his heart for those people in society who don’t have what we have, who are often overlooked and ignored, who have little to zero

control and status, the hungry, imprisoned, addicted, unloved.  The people who some would look at and shout, “Get a job! You’re a drain on the system!”  The nobody’s in the world’s eyes, but the somebody’s in God’s eyes.  Out of God’s unfathomable love and mercy, these are the people who are tender in God’s eyes. And our call is to love them the same way he loves them.

There are two basic ways we can do this, dear friends. Through our hands and through our wallets. By giving of our time and energy through hands-on service. And by giving out of our abundant financial resources. Both are important. It’s not a matter of one or the other. The call to love who God loves involves doing both.

Now, at the risk of coming across pushy, let me try to make an important connection that many (if not most) of us would rather not make. But before I do, let me preface it by saying that I’m fully aware of the fact that only you can determine for yourself what I’m about to lay on the table. I don’t know your personal schedule, your family obligations, your financial situation, or what you’re already doing and supporting. So, I’m not bringing any assumptions about any of you individually, OK?

Here’s the connection, and I’ll pose it in the form of a question. How many of us can honestly say that the level of our giving – both hand-on serving and/or financial – is at the level of being sacrificial? My guess is that some of us are giving of ourselves sacrificially. But I’d also venture to guess that there are probably more of us who’s giving is at the level of safe and comfortable. I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting that anyone listening be foolish in their giving by giving at a level that puts them into jeopardy. But I do know that when it comes to trusting God in our giving, one of the biggest obstacles in our American culture is our high value on comfort, dependability, and control. Anything that might threaten any of those will often cause us to pull back.

How do I know this? Because it’s true for me! Could I give more of myself for the sake of others? You bet. Will I look for ways to increasingly express the sacrificial love of Christ? I’d like to hope so. How about you?

The good news is that it won’t be me, but Christ in me, who makes it possible for me to give sacrificially. The same is true for you. For all of us. Remember something: during the same table conversation in which Jesus said, “Just as I loved you, so you also must love one another,” he also told them “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you—the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15).

Let's pray.

November 15 Bulletin

 

Important Note to the Congregation

Welcome back! It is good to be together again, isn’t it? While it feels good to worship alongside friends once again, it is important to remember that things will not be “normal” for quite some time. Until then, we appreciate your patience and willingness to “roll with the punches.” Because your well-being is our #1 commitment, the following COVID-19 safety protocols have been implemented for our Sunday worship.

  1. Attendance is limited to a maximum of 50 worshipers at any given service. If we find we need to add another service, we will do so.

  2. Worshipers are required to “Savior Seat” (save your seat) during the week leading up to the service. This can be done either online (www.phfumc.org) or by calling the church office.

  3. Every person attending the indoors in-person worship is required to wear a face covering/mask. The church will provide a disposable facemask for anyone who does not have one.

  4. Upon entering the building, everyone will be asked to sanitize their hands, after which they will be directed to one of the outside aisles for immediate seating.

  5. Seating is in every third pew (2 empty pews between). Ushers will direct worshipers to their pew, beginning at the front and working their way towards the rear of sanctuary. You may or may not end up in your ‘usual’ pew😊.

  6. Non-family members are asked to keep at least 6 feet of distance from others in the same pew.

  7. Until group singing is considered safe, worship will not include congregational singing.

  8. The narthex restrooms are open and may be utilized by one person at a time. The sign on the door will indicate if the restroom is available or in use.

  9. At the close of worship, worshipers will be guided out of the sanctuary beginning in the back and working forward.

  10. Upon dismissal, worshipers are asked to immediately exit the building. Socializing (wearing masks, of course!) is encouraged to take place in the parking lot!

 

 

Prelude                Sanctuary 

by John Thompson and Randy Scruggs
 

 

Welcoming and Call to Worship                Rev. Chuck Jacobs

 

Song           "Cry of My Heart"      FWS #2165

 

           Refrain:

           It is the cry of my heart to follow you. It is the cry of my heart to be close to you.

           It is the cry of my heart to follow all the days of my life.

    1.    Teach me your holy ways, O Lord, so I can walk in your truth.

           Teach me your holy ways, O Lord, and make me wholly devoted to you.

           (Refrain)

    2.    Open my eyes so I can see the wonderful things that you do.

           Open my heart up more and more, and make me wholly devoted to you. 

           (Refrain)

Invitation to Give and Offertory            “Love As Christ Would Love”       Steve Grattan, Tom Norager, Cathy Grattan, Pearl Swanson          By Bob Burroughs

 

Rev. Chuck Jacobs

Lord God, we praise you and we thank you for your tender, faithful Love. Everything we are and everything we have is your gift. In the name and Spirit of Jesus, we commit ourselves to be good stewards of the gifts entrusted to us, and to share our time, our talent, and our material gifts as an outward sign of the treasure we hold in Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Scripture Readings             Rev. Chuck Jacobs

Philippians 2:1-11

1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, 2 complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. 3 Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. 4 Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. 5 Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:

Though he was in the form of God,
        he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
7 But he emptied himself
        by taking the form of a slave
        and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
     he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
        even death on a cross.
Therefore, God highly honored him
        and gave him a name above all names,
10    so that at the name of Jesus everyone
        in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow
11    and every tongue confess
        that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Matthew 22:34-40

34 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. 35 One of them, a legal expert, tested him. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

 

Special Music           “Offertory”      Steve Grattan, Tom Norager, Cathy Grattan, Pearl Swanson

By John Ness Beck

 

Message           “One-Upping the Golden Rule”

 

Pastoral Prayer and Lord's Prayer

 

Musical Response       "More Like You"       FWS #2167

 

More like you, Jesus, more like you.  Fill my heart with your desire to make me more like you. 

More like you, Jesus, more like you.  Touch my lips with holy fire and make me more like you.

Lord, you are my mercy.  Lord, you are my grace.  All my deepest sins have forever been erased.

Draw me in your presence.  Lead me in your ways.  I long to bring you glory in righteousness and praise.

More like you, Jesus, more like you.  Fill my heart with your desire to make me more like you. 

More like you, Jesus, more like you.  Touch my lips with holy fire and make me more like you.

 

 

Closing Hymn           "O Thou Who Camest From Above"       UMH #501

        1.  O Thou who camest from above, the pure celestial fire to impart
              kindle a flame of sacred love upon the mean altar of my heart.

        2.   There let it for thy glory burn with inextinguishable blaze,
              and trembling to its source return, in humble prayer and fervent praise.

        3.   Jesus, confirm my heart's desire to work and speak and think for thee;
              still let me guard the holy fire, and still stir up thy gift in me.

        4.   Ready for all thy perfect will, my acts of faith and love repeat,
              till death thy endless mercies seal, and make my sacrifice complete.

 

Benediction

 

Postlude            “I Want to Be More Like You”

By Clint Brown

ABOUT OUR CHURCH

Port Huron First

United Methodist Church

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828 Lapeer Avenue

Port Huron, MI 48060

(810) 985-8107

phfumc@gmail.com

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