Sheerluck & The Golden Ruler.
Who wasn't taught the Golden Rule? You know, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Little did we know, perhaps as preschoolers, that the adult world around us, parents and grandparents included, were teaching us ancient biblical wisdom. The headmasters over in the school of education tell us that children are naturally inquisitive and begin to grasp right and wrong at an early age. In the same way most of us were learning some of the basic life rules---no elbows on the table; yes ma'am, no ma'am; wash your hands; brush your teeth; and, my all time favorite, you don't have to used a whole roll of toilet paper when...you know. When we memorized the Golden Rule, however, we had no idea about the Law and the Prophets, the veracity of Scripture, or even that Jesus had spoken these words--- "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7: 12, ESV). At the time I just knew it was the Golden Rule of life, the basic guide about our treatment of others.
It's basic because it may be the starting point in understanding where others are supposed to fit in our personal priority systems. Of course we humans are self-absorbed from birth, bundles of egocentric joy. Soon we grow beyond the boundaries of crib life and begin the often perplexing and lifelong journey interacting with other selfish humans. The Golden Rule may be our first formal exercise of the quid pro quo deals that bargain us through life. You know, give a little, take a little; this for that; and all the other back and forth of making concessions along the way. Treating others as you want them to treat you, however, isn't the hallmark of our treatment of others. There's a lot more.
These words and Dr. Luke's version, "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them" (Luke 6:31, ESV) are elements of The Sermon on the Mount, the first of five teaching discourses recorded by Matthew. The reference to the "Law and the Prophets" may simply mean that people of the Jewish faith were part of the multitude covered by the instruction and included in the grouping translated as "others". The actual word spoken by Jesus was "anthropoi", the plural of a word usually translated "man", as in mankind, here broadly applied and basically generic. We can conclude that "others" in this particular context means every person beyond self.
As a side note, we can remember that the Jewish law revealed in the Old Testament included detailed instruction about the treatment of every person outside of self---family members, priests, men, women, children, the elderly, people at unique life stages, aliens, strangers, servants, the poor, and just about every category of human condition. The most basic of those hundreds of laws was perhaps Leviticus 19: 18---"You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord" (ESV). That Jesus reduced those hundreds of legal requirements to this one stipulation was a further reminder to them of what he had taught earlier in the Sermon---
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to
abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass
away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore
whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the
same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches
them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your
righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the
kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5: 17-20, ESV
Fulfilling the law, what Jesus had referenced in Matthew 5: 17 moves us in several directions. In this monumental sermon Jesus explained much of what we should know and believe. But, he moved his hearers, and readers in perpetuity, to another level. The Sermon on the Mount, and the Golden Rule, are spiritual education about what we are to do. It was a lesson many of the multitude in his hearing had forgotten: knowing and believing should result in changed living. At that time strict religious legalism involved knowing the details of Jewish law without practicing them. The Golden Rule, our modern phrasing of Matthew 7:12, is the starting point of how we should treat others in the daily practices of life. Knowing it is one thing. Believing it is yet another. But, living it is the deal. Jesus was teaching that multitude of first century people how to live it.
The other day I meant to Google "The Golden Rule". With my ten old thumbs I typed "The Golden Ruler" by mistake. Oh my goodness, it opened 53,900,000 possibilities. That's where I learned about "Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler". Its a Veggie Tales video depicting Bible truth in children's images and language. Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato portray Sheerluck Holmes and his partner Dr. Watson searching for the lost Golden Ruler. It is a brilliant teaching of the Golden Rule. Let me encourage you to purchase the VeggieTales episode or watch the 52 minute YouTube version. It would be an excellent reference point in teaching this wonderful Bible truth to your children, grandchildren, church group, or kids in the neighborhood.
Even more, it may teach each of us the value of simply living The Golden Rule.
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