Commands of Christ: 26

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

This is actually one of the most quoted commands of Christ.  I often hear it applied as an issue of commission of negative actions rather than omission of positive actions.  In other words, I will hear a parent say, “Johnny, you shouldn’t hit people.  Would you like it if they hit you?”  It is perhaps even more challenging if we think of it in positive terms, such as “You should write a note of encouragement to Sue.  Wouldn’t you like it if someone wrote you a note of encouragement?”  Living a life that is pleasing to God is much more than simply avoiding doing bad things.  The life of service and love to which we have been called is one of constantly demonstrating love to those we encounter.  All of us like to be treated in that way.

Commands of Christ: 25

Deal with your own sin before judging another. Lk 6:42

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?  You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye. Luke 6:41-42

This can be a challenge for me.  I have a habit, at least in my mind, of comparing my strong points with the weak points of others.  I want to value and prioritize my strengths and ignore my weaknesses, while doing exactly the converse with others.  It might prove to be motivating to bear in mind that the Lord will judge us in the same way we judge others.  I need to show grace to others both for their sake and for my own.

Commands of Christ: 24

Do not judge.

“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.  For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”  Matthew 7:1-2

 “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”  Luke 6:37

Even Jesus, in His earthly life, did not come to judge.  (I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.  If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.   There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.”  John 12:46-48).  Our task is not to judge.  Our task is to obey the Lord and share His words with others.  We are not responsible for what others do with that message but we are responsible to share it.  This is our role as citizens of the Kingdom of God…not as judge, but as messenger or representative.  If we misunderstand our role then we also misunderstand our relationship with God.  We demonstrate the reality of our forgiveness when we forgive.

Commands of Christ: 23

Do not worry about your life or food or clothing but seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?  Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan?  Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin.  But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.  If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’  All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.  Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” Matthew 6:25-34

 He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear.  For life is more than food and the body more than clothing.  Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds!  Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan?  If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?  Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them.  If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?  As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore.  All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides. ”   Luke 12:22-31

This is another two-part command.  First, we are not to worry about our temporal needs.  God’s character and nature preclude this.  If we understand Who He Is, we cannot and will not worry about these things.  If we do worry about them, it reveals we do not know Him as we should.  Even the natural world reveals His faithfulness and power.  The second part of the command is that we are to seek His Kingdom and righteousness.  The fact that we need not pursue our temporal needs is not to result in our indolence and passivity.  On the contrary, the knowledge of the Lord and His care for us is intended to free us to focus all our being and efforts and resources on pursuing His will on earth.  Our priority as citizens of the eternal Kingdom is to serve the purposes and desires of the King.

Commands of Christ: 22

Do not hoard treasures on earth, but in heaven.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.  But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.  The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;  but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.  No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.  Matthew 6:19-24

Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. Luke 12:33-34

This command has two parts.  First, we are not to hoard treasures on earth.  This is not what we are taught in the world.  We are taught that for our own security and comfort we must save up however much we will need in order to ensure we can maintain ourselves comfortably until our death.  The second part of the command is that we are to hoard treasures in heaven.  Part of how this is to be done is through giving to others here on earth.  Motive and priority have a lot to do with this.  Are we living for God or for ourselves?  Are we living for this life or eternity?  Do we value earthly treasures or heavenly treasures?  Jesus says it is impossible to “sit on the fence” in regard to this matter.  We cannot serve both God and wealth.

Commands of Christ: 21

Pray like this…

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them.  Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.  In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  “This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:5-13

He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to temptation.” Luke 11:2-4

Jesus commanded us to pray.  Not any or every prayer will do.  There are ways we can pray that will not please Him.  We are to pray with right motives.  We are to pray thoughtfully.  We are to pray in ways that acknowledge God’s holiness and fatherhood, and in submission to His will and ways.  We are to pray for our needs and forgiveness and protection.  Jesus taught elsewhere about prayer as well.  Of course Jesus also modeled prayer.  Perhaps the most complete understanding of prayer is that it is our communication with God, both speaking and listening.  It is something we should be engaged in as a way of life, constantly aware of His presence and alert for His desires and will and purposes in every situation.

Commands of Christ: 20

Take care not to do your righteous deeds in order to receive glory from men.

“But take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.  When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others.  Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,  so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them.  Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden.  And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”   Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

The Lord wants us to do righteous deeds, but he is equally concerned that we do them with the right motive.  The right motive is that the glory and honor go to Him.   Giving to others, prayer, and fasting are all wonderful things, but only if they are done to please and glorify God and not to benefit us or build up our own reputation.  The same thing can be said for all sorts of “good deeds” and ministry.  In the very next chapter, Jesus makes it clear that there will be plenty of people prophesying and casting out demons and doing miracles in His name whom He does not know or recognize.  The heart is deceitful and wicked.  We would do well to watch our motives in all we do, including all we are purportedly doing for the Lord.

Commands of Christ: 19

Love your enemies.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?  So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48

 “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.   To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Luke 6:27-29

For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.  If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.  But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Luke 6:32-35

Wow.  That pretty much redefines who an enemy is.  It is not someone you hate, because there are no such people if you are truly a Christ-follower.  It is someone who hates you.  You are loving to everyone equally, just as the Lord is.  This reminds me of a quote from Amy Carmichael.  (I don’t hate it because it isn’t true.  I hate it because it is true and it’s convicting.)  “No matter how suddenly you jar a bowl of sweet water, no bitter water will ever spill out.”

Commands of Christ: 18

Give to the one who asks.  Do not turn away from those who want to borrow.  If someone takes what is yours, do not demand it back.

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. Matthew 5:42

Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours, do not demand it back. Luke 6:30

But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Luke 6:35

This command is somewhat difficult with friends.  With enemies?  He must be kidding!  This is another one of those commands we should be extremely grateful that Christ modeled for us.  In Romans 5:7-8 we read: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  In light of that, surely we can part with physical goods to demonstrate we are His children and give a bit of the love He has lavished on us.

Commands of Christ: 17

Do not resist evil people who abuse you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.  If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.  Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Matthew 5:38-41

This is one of the commands I struggle the most with.  It just seems wrong.  That is evidence that the Lord still has work to do on conforming me to the image of Christ.  It’s a good thing Jesus demonstrated this for us or else He wouldn’t have died on the cross.