Go & Do The Golden Rule

Having just celebrated Reformation Sunday I imagine Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God” found voice in many congregations. One of the lines concerns the battle against evil and the archenemy, “The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him… one little word shall fell him.” One little word. It is amazing how one word has the potential to change so much.

Take for instance the slight wording change between the moral standard of Rabbi Hillel and his contemporary, Jesus Christ. Whereas Hillel says, “Do not do unto others…” Jesus says, “Do unto others.” Well, more precisely Hillel states, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole of Torah, the rest is commentary. go and learn it.” The fundamental difference between the two is the act of doing. Hillel’s rule is the very backbone for that oft quoted piece of advice, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This is not the moral way of Christ. At a time when good manners, honor, and chivalry are fleeting we must reinvigorate the standard of simply doing good.

These “Golden Rules” are not equal. If Hillel says to refrain from doing something to someone else you might not like then you begin by thinking solely about what not to do. Then you might take it further and, with tolerant consideration of your neighbor, you also curb your behavior lest you do something unappreciated. After awhile you are paralyzed in a circle of trying to make people happy without doing anything for fear it is offensive! Think of the teen who was told, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” and consider if you rarely hear them speak again.

Jesus in contrast calls the Church to be of action. Interestingly the Hebrew for “word” means both word and deed. Words and actions are intrinsically linked. Even the creation is described as spoken words that came to life. The Church is called to be creative, active and have a voice. James 1:22 instructs us, “to be doers of the word and not just hearers only.” The very Reformation was due to Luther’s words and actions. We are to speak, to act, and to be involved.

We should never be remiss to speak or act on the behalf of others with honor and chivalry. If we want to overcome the prince of darkness or even a grumpy neighbor, “a little word will fell him.” Speak life, do kindness, and spark a revolution of caring. Change the world for the good by doing good rather than hope that peace will emerge from our silent tolerance. We should do good and speak honorably without fear of the darkness. The world did not have light without God’s word nor will they see his love without our actions. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

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2 Responses to “Go & Do The Golden Rule”

  1. John Wentworth Says:

    Dear Pastor Scott,

    You present an excellent thought in your point that being proactive in this post-modern society is being a functional Christian. We’ve taken a lot of abuse as believers when it comes to our right to express what we believe. To respond in quiet but firm acts of righteous and biblical behavior is our strongest and most effective response. Just whining about it accomplishes little. “A little word will fell him,” and good deeds in Christ’s name will elevate the Master.

    John Wentworth

    • Scott Alan Woodlee Says:

      Indeed, Pastor John. Christ did not give himself for a silent church nor did He demonstrate for us to shy from confrontation but to speak & act with righteousness & sound the clarion call against injustice. May the church again lift its voice in harmony, rather than dissension due to trivial differences, and bring this nation to the crisis of choice: in God we trust or nay.

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