So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Jesus was deadly serious about keeping of the Law. In fact, he has already declared early in this block of teaching (the above is Matt. 7:12, included in the “Sermon on the Mount,” as we call it), “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt 5:17). Later in Matthew, Jesus will refer again to “the Law and the Prophets,” when a Pharisee-lawyer asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is. Upon answering from Deuteronomy, Jesus concludes by saying, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40).
For Jesus, the heart of scripture—the heart of the word of God—is lived out in love for others. It is in fair and equitable treatment, it is in radical kindness and care, and it is in prodigal expressions of service, gratitude, and thanksgiving that we model “the Law and the Prophets.” Specifically, we exemplify the love of God when we treat others in loving and gracious ways.
Jesus said that the ethic is for his followers to act toward others in ways that we want others to act toward us. Another way of saying that is like this: we should be the people that we wish others would be. We should live and love in ways that we wish the world lived and loved. It is not enough to rail against all that is wrong and discouraging and sinful (more than “not enough,” it is rarely fruitful at all!). Instead of expending our time and energy in pointing out all the negative around us, we are far better served—as is the world—when we allow the Spirit of God to help us be the people that we wish everyone else to be.
Let us go out today and be those people—people who please God because we are being what God desires us to be. We are being the people that we hope everyone will one day be.