The Golden Imperative

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Mt 7:12, see also Lk 6:31). These words of Jesus are not just a maxim, a wise suggestion, or a helpful way of life. Jesus is telling his followers that this relational posture is not optional. At its heart, this command is concerned with getting outside of ourselves into another. It calls upon us to transfer self-concern to other people. With the same amount of passion that we care for ourselves we are to engage and serve our neighbor. Jesus is the prime example of love for neighbor void of self-service. Paul calls on believers to accept one another and serve one another on the basis of Christ’s interaction with them. “For even Christ did not please himself but as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me'” (Rom 15:3). Jesus lived to serve and please his neighbor. He died to do the same. He rose securing his saving service. He continues to live and render ongoing service before the Father. Jesus is first our gift and substitute before he is our example. He alone obeyed the greatest commandments and the golden imperative. He alone served his neighbor as a neighbor should. He is our Savior. He is our righteousness. By virtue of our union with Jesus we are viewed by the Father as perfectly obeying the golden imperative. By virtue of our new nature and the Holy Spirit residing within us we are now given the capacity to grow into Christ’s obedience as we engage our neighbor. Thank God for a gospel that justifies us, frees us, and changes us.

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