Sermon Title: Love People: Do Unto Others
Text: Matthew 7:1-12 (ESV)
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Brief summary (what’s the point of this text/sermon?)
Jesus’ command to “love others” is simple and generic and something that obviously most people agree with. We ought to love people, whatever that means. But with this—like with all things—Jesus doesn’t leave us with some sort of ambiguous moral platitude that allows us to love people from a distance without any effort.
In Sunday’s sermon we focused on the last verse in Matthew 7:1-12, what is often called the “Golden Rule.” In this verse Jesus explains to us what he means when he tells us to love others. He doesn’t mean a passive kind of love—a principle that might be communicated with the negative version of this rule: “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you.” That’s a good principle, but it doesn’t come close to what Jesus said. His is an active love that doesn’t allow us to stay to ourselves and merely not hurt other people. He tells us to “do” something . . . to do for others what we would have them do to us.
The implications are far-reaching, leading us to seek out people to love. The “others” are those we like and those we don’t, people who are like us and people who aren’t, the ones who’ve treated us well and the ones who haven’t. And Jesus says to do for them what we would want done to us.
He concludes the statement with this mind-boggling explanation: “for this is the Law and the Prophets.” In other words, remember the hundreds of commands in the Law of Moses about how you should treat people? Jesus says: all that can be summed up in this one simple but incredibly life-altering principle. Love people the way you want to be loved. Like with so much of what Jesus says to us, we could probably spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out how to do this more consistently.
How do I live out the implications of this passage? (Discussion starters to help with applying the sermon to our lives)
- Hillel, a first-century Rabbi, was once asked to summarize the law in the time while standing on one foot. This was his response: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” Notice the similarities and dissimilarities between Hillel’s and Jesus’ statements. How is Jesus’ positive formulation more demanding than Hillel’s?
- Jesus says the Golden Rule “is the Law and the Prophets.” What does that mean? How does it encapsulate Genesis to Malachi?
- Do unto “others” . . . Who is included in “others”? What kind of person would be difficult to treat this way?
- This is a principle that goes everywhere with us. Discuss specific ways you can live it out in these spheres: (a) at home (b) at work (c) at church (d) in your community/neighborhood (e) at college
- How might living this way soften the hearts of those around us? How might it give us opportunities to share our faith in Jesus?
- How did Jesus embody this principle? Think of specific examples that show how he practiced it with others. Discuss the cross as the ultimate expression of the Golden Rule.