Therefore, however you wish that people would treat you, this is how you should treat them, because this is the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12 Author’s Translation).
The ethical manifesto of Jesus Christ ends with a final moral exhortation before Jesus reminds his audience that his way is the ultimate, even the only way. The teaching is that God’s law is essentially that the disciple of Jesus Christ determine how a person needs to be treated, as they are, and then to treat them that way.
It is easy for any Christian to become enamored of good preaching, awesome bible studies, sweet music, intentional communities, foreign missions, and great theology. So much so that we forget that Jesus summarizes the whole Old Testament, which he claims to fulfill (Matthew 5:17-20) with this one sentence.*
Our adherence to Jesus’ teaching is largely related to how we treat the people who are right around us. This includes those in our household, in our schools, at our jobs, on our streets, and at our places of commerce and hanging out. It even means in our churches or when we drive (I get upset in traffic).
Jesus’ archy means that he is king of us in our individual lives. We must treat others as we would wish to be treated. Kind words, appropriate material assistance, prayer for them, encouraging correction, and showing honor and respect to them. The main place most will find to obey Jesus is in their workplace, which is one of the main places where Christians don’t act like Jesus Christ. The time to be the light of the world is literally right now, because Jesus tells his disciples that they are light right now. This means that you can do good works that lead to God exalting praise, even if you aren’t doing them right now.
This kind of life is available to those who seek Jesus’ power to live it. He is with us always, even until the end of the age.
I do recommend some spiritual disciplines for learning to actually accomplish this command:
- Meditate on what is good about other people (Philippians 4:1-9).
- Memorize this passage of Jesus’ teachings (see Psalm 119 about memorizing God’s word).
- Make a list of things which anger you, depress you, irritate you, make you feel disrespected, and then modify how you treat people accordingly.
- Leave early for work every morning, you won’t be stressed and irritable when you’re there. I’m certain you wish your co-workers did the same.
- Call the teachings, example, and grace of Jesus Christ to your mind as often as possible at work.
- Meditate on how quickly grudges, arguments, and passive aggressive behavior ends when somebody breaks the cycle by thinking of the other person as more significant than themselves.
*The fulfillment happens in his teachings, actions, death, resurrection, sending of the Spirit, present reign, etc.