The Golden Rule

At the time of Christ, Rabbi Hillel was asked to summarize Judaism. He answered, “Whatever is offensive to you yourself, do not do that to your neighbor. That is the whole law. Everything else is interpretation.” That is the not-so-golden-rule of retaliation. We are witnessing that in Israel today. They are saying to Hamas, “Don’t fire rockets at us, and we won’t fire back on you.” Any reasonable person would say that Israel has the right to defend itself, and Hamas is totally wrong in trying to annihilate Israel. Hamas violated the rule of retaliation by initiating the attacks, but both sides have violated the rule of grace.

Jesus flipped the rule of retaliation from negative to positive when He said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12). The doctor who took the Hippocratic oath to do no harm went to Liberia and put himself at risk to work with Ebola patients. That is the rule of grace. Christians are not just saved by grace, they are governed by grace, or should be. In the end, that will determine whether we are sheep or goats according to Jesus (see Matt. 25:31-46).

I have stayed at the same ELWA missionary compound in Liberia. Christine Norman is our representative in Liberia. She is the daughter of the President who was assassinated in 1980. The country immediately declined into a civil war that lasted for twelve years, which was followed by a ruthless dictator. The country is slowly coming back and I am sure that Jesus is saying to that doctor and Christine, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (vs. 40).

Dr. Neil

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