Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Most Applicable Verse in the Bible

Would you want a command from our Lord that would be universally applicable...in every situation, with every person, in every context, culture, and condition; a command that is easy to remember, easy to relate to, and easy to understand; a command that in keeping would lead you to keep other commands automatically; a command so simple that even a child understands the concept?  Have I aroused your curiosity and piqued your interest?  I hope so. 

This command is on par with the second greatest commandment, "To love your neighbor as yourself," and, in fact, is the practical outworking of that command.  What is it?  Glad you asked.  Let's look at Matthew 7:12 "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for  this is the Law and the prophets."    Here in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives this command, and it comes some time before He is asked the question that leads Him to give us the two greatest commandments; and He says the same thing about this command that He says about those two great commandments...that it sums up the Law and the prophets (See Matthew 22:34-40).  Pretty astounding, wouldn't you say.  Yes, this Golden Rule that many of our mothers taught us is that powerful and that profound. 

I tell people quite frequently that the Lord has not made being a Christian complex or hard, but in reality He has made it simple for us to live a life that pleases Him and blesses others; for that is what living out this command does.  It is universally applicable, and is intertwined in so much of Scripture.  Let's look at some examples.

Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but give a blessing instead.
Be patient and kind, not arrogant or boastful or jealous, not taking into account a wrong suffered, not being easily provoked, not acting unbecomingly, and not self-seeking.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.
Turn the other cheek.
Walk the extra mile.
Be generous and ready to share.
Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Let your speech be seasoned with salt, giving grace to those who hear.
Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
Be submissive...to masters, to parents, to husbands, to elders, to each other.
Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.
Stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
Forgive those who have sinned against you.
Don't judge your more mature brother or hold in contempt your weaker brother.
Give honor to whom honor is due.
Do not withhold good when it is in your power to do good.
Visit orphans and widows in their distress.
Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.
When reviled, revile not.
Regard one another as more important than yourself.
Pray for those who persecute you.
Love one another fervently from the heart.
Be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, and kindhearted.

Of course we could go on, but what could you add to the list?

If we would but apply this verse with each person every day, think about the witness it would provide, and the blessing it would give.  We could apply it to:

Our spouse.
Our children.
Our parents.
Our siblings.
Our friends.
Our neighbors.
Our co-workers.
Our enemies.
Our church family.
Our competition.
The person who gets under our skin.
The person who always seems to have it out for us.
The person who inadvertantly or intentionally cuts us off in traffic.
The person who never lets us get in a word edgewise.
The lazy clerk at the store.
The incompetent clerk at the store.
The server who can't get our order right.
Our spouse in a disagreement.
Our children when we have to discipline them.
Our employee when we have to terminate them.
Someone at church with whom we disagree.
Anyone with whom we get frustrated.

See how applicable it is.  Pretty amazing, huh?  But it does require something from us, and that is self-sacrifice, a genuine putting others ahead of our self.  This is not always an easy task, but this should be a joyous task; one that we know pleases the Father, and one that we know blesses others.  Let's start tomorrow by being intentional about putting this verse into practice in our lives, and let's see how the Lord uses it for His glory.

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