Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12
Jesus just got through telling those gathered on the mount to ask, seek, and knock until they received from God the things they needed to do His will. But He adds this instruction. He tells them, “Do not do to others what you would not want to be done to you.”
The ‘therefore’ connects to the asking, seeking, and knocking. If we want God to answer our prayers, come when we seek Him, open the door when we knock, then, we must treat others how we want to be treated.
The rabbis of that day were highlighting what not to do. Jesus was highlighting the need to do. It’s not okay to withdraw from those we don’t like and do nothing. We are to extend blessing to them, as we would want blessing extended to us.
In this, Jesus was underlining the fact again that all 613 commands the Jews were striving to follow, were summed up in treating others with the treatment they wanted.
Love God—Love others. A simple straightforward command, but not easy if pride is in our hearts or unforgiveness.
Paul put it this way, “Be ye therefore followers (imitators) of God, as dear children.” Ephesians 5:11
Since God has dealt bountifully with us, we must practice generosity with others. We must not let our conduct be determined by how others treat us, but rather by how God treats us.
Colossians 3:12-13 says, Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
These words and many others echo the commands in Torah.
Leviticus 19:18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Exodus 23:4-5 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it.
Deuteronomy 15:7-8 “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.
Proverbs 25:21-22 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the Lord will reward you.
James and John asked for prominent seats beside Jesus at the end of the age. But Jesus’ response paralleled these verses.
“You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45
But, let’s clarify one more thing before we close. That Proverbs verse about feeding and caring for your enemy says that in serving him and meeting his needs, “you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” What on earth is this about?
Well, in those days, women did not have electric or gas appliances. Microwaves were far into the future. Still, every morning, women got up with the responsibility of preparing breakfast for their family over a wood fire of some kind.
So, in every village, there was usually a fire tender. This man tended a fire each night and gathered the hot coals in the morning to distribute to the women to start their stoves.
Metal was not plentiful enough for everyone to have metal buckets. Thus, to carry the coals from house to house, the fire tender secured a small metal container on his head (padding between his container and his head) to carry the coals. He gave a hot coal to each woman and she started her morning cooking.
Therefore, the ‘heaping of coals of fire’ on our enemy’s heads, is in essence a parable. If we bless our enemy, we are giving them an opportunity to serve and be a blessing to others.
This simple, easily understood golden rule, could transform lives, families, communities, nations—our world. How about let’s ask Holy Spirit to give us an opportunity to be a blessing this week? Let’s give someone else to be a blessing too.