The Tragic Results of Not Following the Golden Rule

The verse we are following today is Matthew 7:12:

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

There are certainly tragic results of mistreatment on both sides: others mistreating me, as well as my mistreatment of others. And that mistreatment affects not only the one being mistreated, but also the one who is causing the mistreatment.

For this post today, I want to write on how others, as well as myself, have been mistreated. I will start with myself. I couldn’t have been more than seven years old, first grade. My dad had helped me make a boat, really an old clipper ship. It was a great project. We carved it out of a four-by-four block of wood, then we gave it three masks made of dowels, we made sails made of white cloth, and then we tied strings all over it—which were to be the ropes holding the sails in place. I was surprised at how good it looked when it was finished. It was the first project I had ever attempted before—even though Dad had done most of it. Nonetheless, I really felt good about it and proud of myself.

But the very next day after it was finished, I discovered that all the strings (the ropes) were cut. Someone had cut all the ships ropes. Who would do such a thing? I was devastated. At the time I didn’t give much thought on who could have done it. Or why. It didn’t matter to me. The only thing that mattered is that my ship was destroyed.

Obviously, whoever did it didn’t stop and think how they would want to be treated and then how they should treat me. They were thinking only of themselves.

Another victim of mistreatment we often think of is the biblical character Joseph. The story is found in Genesis 37:2-36. He was his father’s favorite son, and so he gave him a beautiful coat of many colors. Well, as the story goes, his brothers were extremely jealous of him, and one day they threw him in a pit and left him for dead. How tragic. As we know, God made things work together for good, and Joseph became the great savior of the Jewish nation. But even so, think of all the pain Joseph went through because of those brothers who thought only of themselves.

Another character we could think of is David. He was such a man of God; he had a heart after God’s own heart. Yet think of how he was abused by others. The Psalms are filled with the prayers of David—how he was chased and was fearful of his enemies—those who certainly were not following the Golden Rule.

The ultimate example of mistreatment by others was our Lord Jesus. And we are all guilty. But the Pharisees seemed to be the ones who were after Him the most—to be rid of Him. And Scripture tells us that they handed Him over (to be crucified) “because of envy” (Matt. 27:18). Think of it. Their sin of envy was so strong that it blocked out any thought of how they should treat others.

Of course, they were not believers, and that is the entire problem. The Golden Rule makes no sense to a non-believer. Only true believers will carry it out. And only a true believer can carry it out. If you want to make a huge impact on peoples lives, if you want to really love them as God loves them, give your heart and soul to God and then practice this Golden Rule. I think it is how we can really begin to love others.

This Golden Rule is so simple, yet profound. It is simple because there is only one thing we are required to do—think how I would want to be treated by others and then treat them that way. It is profound because it works. And it starts with us. We start this process of love, and other will pick it up and carry it on.

And when a non-Christian sees how we lovingly treat each other, they will be curious and will want to join us.  I think so. I pray so.

Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 21:33-46

Our purpose as the church is to bear fruit.

This is our twelfth study. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will focus on the meaning of the parable of the landowner.

Matthew 21:33-46

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected

has become the capstone;

the Lord has done this,

and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

Observations

This parable speaks to the Jews as nation and particularity to the Jewish leaders, the Pharisees who killed the prophets (the servants) and would kill Jesus (the Son). The verdict given by the Pharisees upon the vine-growers (vs. 41) was a verdict made upon themselves. Yes, they who were the vine-growers in the parable convicted themselves. The other tenants who would be given the vineyard (or the kingdom) would be the church (v. 41, 43). So, this parable speaks prophetically about the end of the Jewish program and the beginning of the church (Rom. 11). The stone whom the builders rejected would be Christ (v. 42). The Pharisees were not stupid. They understood that Jesus was speaking about them and they wanted to kill Him.

Applications

The obvious application for me that I see is in verse 43. I am part of the church and my purpose is to produce fruit.

Jesus and the Pharisees on Divorce: from Matthew 19:3-9

This is our eleventh study. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will focus on the Biblical teaching of divorce.

Matthew 19:3-9

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Observations

The Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, as always, to test Him—to see how much He knew. And they may also have been looking for more information for their own debates. The Rabbis Shammai interpreted the law as permitting a man to divorce his wife only for sexual immorality. But the Hillelites permitted divorce for any reason.

Jesus appears to side with the Shammai, but He also gave them more informaation than they asked for. He instructed them on what the original intent of marriage was—to be of one flesh. He also corrected them on what was said about a command of divorce. He said that Moses didn’t command divorce, he permitted it, and only for one reason, adultery.

Applications

I think these verses should definitely be studied by any couple who is thinking about marriage. And it is my opinion that if they can’t be serious about staying together for life, they should not be married. It is better to remain single.

Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 15:1-6

This is our seventh study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.

Matthew 15:1-6

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’  5 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ 6 he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

Observations

The tradition of washing hands before meals is a good one, but it wasn’t commanded by God through Moses, so Jesus wasn’t that concerned about it. He was concerned more over why the Pharisees were teaching that it was okay not to honor father and mother for the sake of their tradition. The Pharisees were teaching that it was okay not to help your mother and father with a financial need, or with any other need, if you gave your time and money to God instead—because God is more important.

Applications

I see all kinds of applications here, especially if one’s parents are elderly and poor. We cannot use any excuse for not honoring parents by helping them with their needs, no matter what good thing we are doing for God. Honoring parents is always a greater priority. We should not say, I cannot help my parents with their needs because I need that money to go to Bible School. We cannot say I cannot honor my parents by supporting them because I support this missionary or this good work. Honoring one’s father and mother is the 5th commandment and a high priority—an absolute must over any other good work.

Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 12:38-41

This is our sixth study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.



Matthew 12:38-41

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.”

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.

Observations

In this text we see that the Pharisees wanted to see a sign from Jesus. They of course were already seeing miracles of healing, but they wanted something more spectacular. Evidently, they wanted more proof that He was who He said He was. They wanted a show. This reminds me of what the second end times beast will do, the one called “the false prophet.” In Revelation 13:13-15 it says that he will perform great signs, even make fire come down out of heaven; and he will “give breath to the image of the beast.” He will do these things obviously to win the people over and for an evil purpose.

Jesus knew their heart and would not give them what they wanted, because it would be evil and adulterous (a spiritual adultery, or idolatry). Instead, He gave them a sign from Scripture, the sign (or miracle) of the resurrection. This sign was given in the experience of Jonah: that “as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” This saying was a type of Christ’s interment and resurrection.

Applications

The message that Jesus gave the Pharisees was meant not just as a prophecy of His resurrection, but more as a rebuke for their wanting a sign. He rebuked the Pharisees (v. 14) by telling them that even the wicked people of Nineveh were better (more responsive to God) than they were because the people of Nineveh repented by the preaching of Jonah, but they refused to repent even though one greater than Jonah was there—Jesus Himself.

Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 12:13-14; 22-26

This is our fifth study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.

Matthew 12:13-14; 22-25

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.

Observations

First of all, in both cases by healing the men Jesus demonstrated His deity.  Then in both cases The Pharisees had a negative reaction. In the first case they plotted to kill Him, and in the second case they contributed the healing to Beelzebub (Satan).

I’m not sure what is going on with the Pharisees, but I will take a guess. In both healings they were jealous of His power and deity; they didn’t want Him to be more powerful than they were. I think they also didn’t want their own sin and corruption to be revealed. So, they did whatever they could think of to make Him look bad. Notice in verse 24 they called Him, “this fellow.”

It is also possible that they could not recognize that Jesus was a good man, because of their own depravity. Hence their sin and corruption caused their thinking to be depraved and reversed, so that they saw good as evil and evil as good (Rom. 1:28; Isa. 5:20).

Applications

I did not include what Jesus did, but that is the application. In the first case when the Pharisees plotted to kill Him, Jesus simply withdrew from them and continued healing people (v. 15). Hence, the Pharisees threats did not deter Jesus’ mission.

In the next case, when the Pharisees said that He was casting out demons by Beelzebub (Satan), Jesus took that as an opportunity to teach. Some teacher I think would be offended and walk away. But Jesus showed His compassion as a truth teacher. Here is His teaching:

Matthew 12:25-30

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.

30 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

Jesus and the Pharisees: Study #4

This is our fourth study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.
We will focus our study for this post on Matthew 12:1-8.

Matthew 12:1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread — which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Observations

Here are four things we may observe about this passage.

1. Though the Pharisees immediately jumped at Jesus for His disciples’ “unlawful” acts on the Sabbath, they were wrong. Gleaning grain from a neighbors’ field to satisfy one’s hunger was permitted.

If you enter your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to his standing grain (Deut. 23:25).

2. Jesus also pointed out (from 1 Samuel 21:4-6) that David’s men did the same thing in the temple when they were hungry.

But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here — provided the men have kept themselves from women.”

5 David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s things are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” 6 So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away (1 Sam 21:4-6).

3. I’m sure the Pharisees were quite shocked when Jesus said to them that He was greater than the temple and was Lord of the Sabbath. I’m sure they were fuming with anger. Yet Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth.

4. This passage shows us how ignorant the Pharisees were on the moral nature of the law and had the wrong focus of the law—only looking at the outward, ritual aspects of keeping the law.

Applications

It would do us well to study the word in order to be informed, in case someone should question us or accuse us of something. It will not only serve to protect us, but it will aid us to correctly instruct another and even lead them to Christ.

Jesus and the Pharisees—and Trump: Study #3

This is our third study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.
We will begin our study for this post in Matthew 9:32-34

Matt 9:32-34

As they were going out, “a mute, demon-possessed man was brought to Him. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Observations

What happened to the man was clear and undeniable. Jesus drove a demon out of the man and he was healed. He could speak. And the crowd was amazed at what happened.

But what was puzzling is the response by the “righteous” Pharisees. They said that the reason he was able to cast out demons was because he called on “the prince of demons.” (the devil).

First of all, that makes no sense. Why would the devil want his demons to be cast out? His kingdom would not stand if he went about casting out his own forces (read what Jesus said in Matthew 12:25-30).

I think the real reason the Pharisees said what they said was because they hated Jesus and they were jealous of what he was able to do. So, they had to say something to discredit him.

Applications

This text reminds me of the former U.S. administration, with Donald Trump as President. He did so many good things for the country and yet the media and the Democrats were so jealous of him and hated him. And it didn’t matter what he did, they always found a way to discredit him. I have heard many times that he could have found a cure for cancer and they would have found a way to discredit it, or give the credit to someone else.

I think we see so much of the Pharisees in the Democrat party and the Democrat media. Watch how they act: so self-righteous; and Nancy Pelosi, how she was praying for everyone. But also notice how she could not give President Trump praise for anything, and publicly tore up President Trump’s State of the Union Speech.

Jesus and the Pharisees: Study #2

This is our second study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.
We will begin our study for this post in Matthew 9:10-13.

Matthew 9:10-13

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Observations

The Pharisees apparently thought that a righteous person should not mingle with or be seen with sinners. That would ruin a person’s reputation. A righteous person, to them, should only be seen with the upper class of society.

But Jesus was more concerned with serving others. He reasoned that we cannot help the sinner unless we go to them and be seen with them. And also, he did not come to help those who think they are already good enough (the Pharisees), but to help those who know they are sinners. Thus, He was saying to the Pharisees that He could do nothing for them; they had too much pride.

Applications

We should not be so concerned with our reputation or how we look to others. We should be more concerned with helping others who are in need, who need our mercy. So, wherever we go we should seek out those who have needs and who are open to our help. And we should not waist our time with those like the Pharisees who think they are good enough already.