I’ve been reading through the Sermon on the Mount this week. Wow, there’s so much there. Every time I read it I glean something fresh. Here’s something that jumped out at me this morning.
Matthew 7:12 is arguably the most quoted Scripture of all-time, though most people wouldn’t know where to locate it in the Bible.
“Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them…”
Otherwise known in today’s vernacular as “The Golden Rule.” And here’s the question that came to my mind: How many people can quote this verse, but have absolutely no clue the context surrounding it, particularly the verse that follows?
Verse 13 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it.”
It almost seems that Jesus anticipated the phenomenon that verse twelve would become in our society–that it would turn into a social religion in and of itself when ripped out of its context. Yet, the ironic thing is that The Golden Rule means nothing without verse 13. Unless you enter through the narrow gate, it doesn’t matter how many people you treat kindly; it doesn’t matter how many people you treat fairly; it doesn’t matter how many people you treat as you would want to be treated.
The Golden Rule, when standing on itself for support, is a like a load-bearing wall in a house when the main support truss is removed. It eventually collapses. The Golden Rule is meant to stand on the support structure of the whole context. And that demands that we enter through the narrow gate–life lived the way Jesus intended–abandoning the broad road to destruction–walking the narrow road with eternity in mind, and refusing the temporary gain we may easily achieve through social pleasantries, niceness and fairness alone!