Session #056 The Gold Standard
Scripture Matthew 7:12
Summary When Jesus spoke the words in Matt 7:12, He provided the Big Idea of the Sermon on the Mount. This has become known as the Golden Rule. For kingdom subjects, this is to be the Gold Standard that we are expected to live by. Henson takes creative licence and imagines how the sermon would sound if it were preached upside down, starting from Matt 7:12 backwards. Enjoy, and don’t miss the examples and applications along the way.
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12
The Gold Standard is a monetary standard. From the Business Dictionary, it is defined as a “System of backing a country’s currency with its gold reserves. Such currencies are freely convertible into gold at a fixed price, and the country settles all its international trade transactions in gold.”
In times past, the worth of things was measured according to their value in gold. This is where the term the ‘Gold Standard’ originated from. Along the way, the gold standard also came to mean ‘benchmark’ or a point of ‘reference’ by which others are measured against. We can also see the gold standard as a ‘yardstick’ and plumbline, that we take reference from.
The focus of this teaching will be Matthew 7:12, one verse only. This verse is often termed the ‘Golden Rule’. This is the gold standard that kingdom people must live by. There is no need for comparison to other people or other churches, we have to live by this gold standard in Matthew 7:12.
Two Contexts; and Both are Right and Important
Matthew 7:12 possesses an immediate context and a broad context. Both contexts are correct and equally important. Let’s look at the immediate context that comes after Matthew 7:7-11, which is about asking, seeking and knocking. It ends in verse 11 about how good our heavenly Father is and how much more He knows to give us the right thing as well as the right gift for us. He has already given us the best things if we Do not get distracted by worldly things. He has given us Jesus. “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). In context, we also know that He has given us the Holy Spirit and we keep asking, seeking and knocking to receive the things of the kingdom. With this one word –
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them – that ‘therefore’ can be linked to the example of our heavenly Father. If He knows how to be so good, therefore, you be so good also. If He knows what works best for you and for everyone else, therefore this is the way you should live. Therefore, we are to be like Him. This immediate context links this one verse as a summary or example of how good our heavenly Father is, and in the same way, we are to be like Him. In Matthew 5:48 at the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” In Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. Jesus might be saying here that He is such a good Father. He knows so well, therefore, be like Him. This is how we are to apply the immediate context.
If we look at the broad context, then Matthew 7:12 is a summary of all that Jesus had been teaching from all the way back to Matthew 5:17. Matthew 7:12 closes this section because of the Law and the Prophets. If you want to look at the Law and the Prophets, this is what this one verse is saying. This is how you interpret the Law. If we back up to Matthew 5:17, Jesus begins by saying, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.” These two verses become like bookends. He introduces the Law and the Prophets. He goes on to explain and teach it, and right at the end He bookends, frames and concludes and says – now this is what the Law and the Prophets would be all about. Matthew 7:12 is the big idea Jesus concludes with.
The Gold Standard
The God Standard is radical. Jesus was radical in the way He interpreted the law and in the way He presented it. All the otherwise people worded it negatively and instead He turned it around and said ‘do this’. What you want people to do to you, you do to them. Even most of the commandments were worded as “do not”, but Jesus turned it upside down because the kingdom is as such. Jesus is saying Do not just not do something bad but do something good. There are three things that would break down Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:12. Firstly take the initiative – make the first move and Do not wait for others. As we do that we are demonstrating the kingdom and living it out. Whatever is good for someone’s well-being, because we desire for it to be done to us, it cannot be bad. And lastly, make use of every opportunity; there will be many. If we were to obey this command by the Lord and follow the Holy Spirit, we would be able to execute these three things.
The Upside Down Kingdom
Jesus says in Matthew 7:12 “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus continues that we cannot do this on our own, we will need the Spirit of the King to live out the Gold Standard. Ask for the Holy Spirit. Seek to be able to live like that. Knock for the opportunity, so that we can be a blessing to the people around us. This is the Law and this is the Prophets. How badly do you want to be able to be a kingdom blessing?
Jesus then comes to the point of judging right; ourselves as well as others. Jesus wants us to be gracious and merciful. How do we apply this big idea? Would you like others to criticise and condemn you? Then Do not do it to others! Instead, affirm and encourage. Would you like others to give you an accurate assessment in a loving and gracious way? Then learn how to provide constructive feedback graciously, and with wisdom. Would you like others to be merciful when pointing out your mistakes and faults, forgiving you, and accepting you where you are in your spiritual walk towards maturity? Then, be merciful and forgive others too, giving them space to grow. That is a kingdom attitude. Would you like others to be bold and courageous to stand for righteousness? Then you must also be strong and courageous to speak up when it is time to speak up. Would you like others to receive feedback well and be open to correction? Then receive these well too. Do not be prideful. Do not be a dog or a pig!
Jesus then goes on to talk about finances and wealth, focusing on the right things in Matthew 6:19-34. “Be generous” – the opposite of “do not lay up” is “give away”.
Would you like others to be generous with you, to share what they have with you? Then learn to be a good steward, to give and to share. Would you like others who have the means to help you out when you have no means or are struggling to make ends meet? Then learn to help others who may be worse off than you are. Do not be selfish to only think of yourself, your needs and your wants. Would you like other churches or ministries to help your church or ministry? Learn to be a giving church and ministry too. Collaborate with other ministries, for in time, you would want other ministries to collaborate with your ministry. If it is just my church versus your church or my ministry versus your ministry, then we are just standing apart from one another, we are not practising the Gold Standard.
In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus speaks of hiddenness in your prayer, giving and fasting. He would go on to say how we were to apply this standard. Be real and authentic as opposed to being a spiritual showman and a hypocrite. Would you like others to be honest with you? Then be real and authentic with others. Be the real deal! Would you like Christians to stop being hypocrites? Then stop being a hypocrite yourself. Begin to walk the talk. Would you like others to be humble, instead of prideful and showy? Then be humble. Be content with being hidden, known only to God.
Now Jesus begins to be radical to love and bless your enemies in Matthew 5:43-48. Would you like others to love and bless you? Would you like your enemies to love and bless you? Start loving and blessing them first! Is there someone you cannot stand? A boss? A colleague? A cell leader? A pastor? Send him or her a text to wish them well. Pray for him or her. Invite him or her out for coffee. Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them!
Matthew 5:38-42 brings up the teaching to be easy going. Do you like people who keep retaliating, arguing, and fighting? Do you like people who think they must always be right and must have the last say? Then Do not be one either. Do not be calculative. Do not nit-pick. Instead, be willing to give up your rights, to let them have their way, even if it means being inconvenienced by that act of love! If you needed something, would you like others to lend it to you without asking one thousand questions? Then be that person to give without having to know everything. Be helpful, generous, and gracious. This is the Gold Standard.
In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus brings up the values of being trustworthy, dependable, and a person of integrity. Do you like people who say one thing but mean another thing? Those who give excuse after excuse after excuse? Then Do not be like them. Instead, be a person of integrity. If yes, then yes. If no, then no. Be punctual. Be responsible. Be trustworthy. Be a kingdom ambassador that represents the King well. What our King says, it will be done. Are our words good and dependable? Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them!
Matthew 5:27-32 is a section where Jesus taught about not committing adultery and about divorce. He teaches about being pure, faithful, and diligent in your marital relationship. We should not just avoid adultery or divorce, we should work at our marriages! Remember this is worded negatively. Therefore, husbands should love their wives and wives love their husbands first. If your marriage is a Gold Standard, then what you want your spouse to do to you, you do to him/her. Paul actually wrote this in Ephesians 5:29 to husbands, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” Do not wait for your spouse to love you first. Take the initiative to demonstrate the kingdom in your marriage at every opportunity. Your address and work on issues that threaten or weaken your marriage. Do not avoid it for fear of confrontation. Initiate the talk or discussion. ‘Fight’ to be the first to say “I love you”, “I appreciate you” and “I am sorry”; to carry out acts of love and kindness. Affirm one another. Do not give the cold or silent treatment. Do not drop hints which he or she never notices, and that makes you even more upset. Make the first move. Do not rationalize or justify addictions in the matter of lust. Seek counsel and stay accountable.
In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus taught us to be eager to restore and reconcile. It is not just about anger management or controlling your temper. It is not about sweeping things under the carpet, or trying to ignore the issue, or refusing to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Instead, be willing to forgive and overlook. If possible, seek restoration and reconciliation.
Initiate the process. Apply the Golden Rule.
Be the Salt of the Earth and Light of the World
And finally, in Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus says that He did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. He came to fulfil the Law. This is The Gold Standard. Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them! This will fulfil the Law. This is the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees and it cannot be done without the help of the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees set up an elaborate system of how not to break the Law. It was always an avoidance approach. But Jesus turns it upside down and affirms that with the Holy Spirit, you will learn to love as the King loves and understands the Law. Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them! When we live the Gold Standard, we become the salt of the earth and the light of the world that brings a positive influence, a kingdom influence. We will stick out. Can you imagine if everyone lived at the Gold Standard? The world will indeed be a better place. But the world does not understand this law. Instead, if all Christians lived in this way, will we be loved and accepted then? That’s what we think and hope. But be warned that the tape has not played to the end yet.
Be Ready for Persecution
The tape continues to roll as Jesus speaks of the blessedness of those who are persecuted in Matthew 5:10-12. Remember that the good news of the kingdom is not just being nice people who live harmoniously with other people, tolerating one another for the sake of world peace and unity. The good news of the kingdom is also about the righteousness of the kingdom. In the world we live in today, everyone loves rights, but not necessarily righteousness. If we want to live out the Law and the Prophets and the way of the King, we must stand for righteousness. But be alerted – try standing up for righteousness and see where that gets you. Jesus warned us to be careful of people who do not like righteousness.
Beware the religious spirit too as the religious people do not like the Gold Standard. They like the laws and the rules, they like the “Do not do this and that”. Jesus and His disciples were persecuted by religious and political institutions. Self-righteousness will always oppose kingdom righteousness. When Christians act in love, without retaliation, we can be taken advantage of, and often for no rhyme or reason. Ask Jesus. Ultimately, it is a spiritual battle between one kingdom and another. But let’s be thankful that the promise is that when the light shines, the darkness cannot overcome it. And the greater the darkness, the brighter the light.
Be Blessed! Makarios!
Jesus concludes with a reminder and a word of encouragement. You live this rule and you fulfil this law with love. Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them! You be that salt! You be that light! Even if that costs you something. Jesus declares that you are blessed. This is the promise – Makarios! You are people who are blessed of the kingdom. We are playing the tape backwards in Matthew 5:3-9, from verse 9 all the way to verse 3.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for as you do this you truly are the sons of God. Blessed are the pure in heart, as you are faithful and living with integrity, and you are saying things as you mean it, you will get to see God. Blessed are the merciful because as you are merciful and gracious, our Heavenly Father will lavish mercy upon you. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, as you stand and fight for righteousness, you will be filled. Blessed are the meek, even though people push you around, you are strong and self-controlled. This is the promise for you that you will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who mourn, they say bad things to you, they take advantage of you, but there will come a time when you shall be comforted. Blessed are the poor in spirit, if you are broken for the things of the Kingdom, for Yours is the kingdom of heaven – that is your promise. You are blessed and you will be a blessing to others.
The Gold Standard was abandoned in 1931. During the Great Depression, they were not able to keep up this standard. The US also abandoned it in 1971. They joined the floating exchange rate system which is what the international monetary system is based on today.
Instead of gold, currencies are pegged against one another, relative to each other. There is no longer a Gold Standard. Governments can print as much or as little as they want – contributing to the debt situation. This also means that currencies are backed by nothing, except the credibility of the nation/government. Should there be a crash, currencies can be worthless overnight!
In society there is a parallel, there are no more moral absolutes. Everything is relative like a “floating exchange rate system”. Are we heading for a moral crash of epic proportions? Will we discover that what we have considered as important is actually worthless?
That all depends on the standard you are holding to, doesn’t it? Are you holding on to a Gold Standard or a floating standard? Has the Church also abandoned the Gold Standard, preferring to live with moral relativity and tolerance with the rest of the world, pegged to their values and culture, and present-day narratives?
This Golden Rule, our Gold Standard of how we are to live as kingdom people, is backed by the Kingdom of God, by the King of kings. It may challenge us radically but it is a worthy investment that will yield great returns, treasures in heaven.
We are not just kingdom subjects. We are also the Bride of Christ. When we put our faith in Him, when we were baptized into Him, we took a vow and said, “I DO!”, and to live out that Gold Standard as He lived. Will the church live out that Gold Standard? When we said “I do”, we said yes to take the initiative. We said yes to demonstrate the kingdom and to make use of every opportunity. To live the Gold Standard, enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit.
What is one thing you can do to or for someone to apply this Golden Rule?