If You Wish Men To Do To You Do So To Them
Matthew 7:12, Message by Pastor Eric Chang
We continue in the Word of God in Mt. 7:12. When we study the Lord’s teaching systematically, we see how beautifully the Lord’s teaching fits together. I hope that as we have been studying the Sermon on the Mount, we will begin to see the whole line of Jesus’ teaching and where it is taking us to. Now, last week we saw the generosity of God, that is, how God is ever ready to pour out his blessings upon those who are willing to seek for them. We saw that the Lord Jesus says, “Ask and you will receive”, he was afraid that we might not ask. And we saw that his Word is always true. But you will not know this in your own experience, unless you have put his teaching to the test and found that it is true; his teaching is one that invites us to prove that his words are true. We saw that “ask and you will receive” is a promise which you can apply into your daily life and find out whether his words are true.
Faith That Is In The Head Versus Faith That Has Experienced God
There are so many Christians whose faith is basically only in the head. Their faith has never percolated down, i.e., it has never gone down into their hearts. For those whose faith has gone to their hearts, it has never blossomed forth into experience. Therefore, because they do not have experience, they do not have conviction. And it is exactly to deal with this problem that the Lord Jesus is saying, “Ask, you shall receive. See that when you call upon the name of the Lord, he will answer you.” He wants you to have first-hand experience of himself, so that your heart will be set on fire with the sure fire of conviction. When I speak about the difference between being an intellectually-convicted Christian and a Christian who knows from experience what God is like, I would like to illustrate very briefly this point. We can say that almost the majority of Christians lack this personal direct experience of what God can do in their lives. Hence, in the passage we are studying, the Lord is telling us, “I want you to know me directly. So, you ask me directly and I will answer you directly. Then you will know me directly.”
When I was studying in London, I already had the burden to go out and evangelize. At that time, I had a particular burden for Ireland, the people in Ireland across the sea from England. For this reason, I went to Ireland several times to preach the Gospel to the Irish people. At that time, there were not many Chinese in Ireland, so we were preaching to the Irish. Now, most people know that most of the Irish people are Catholics. Many of them, like so many evangelicals, so many Protestant Christians, their faith is basically just in the head. Some of them did not even have it in their head. I do not know where they had it, but they must have had it just in their tradition. But that did not prevent them from being very zealous in a very ignorant way. And so, for those of us who preached the Gospel there, we sometimes risked our lives, because people had been badly hurt and some had even been killed in preaching the Gospel. I am sure that if you ask them why they are so zealous for something they do not even know, [that is, they do not know] what they believe in, that would be an interesting question. Presumably, it is simply that they are loyal to Roman Catholicism, whatever that is. They are not very sure what it is. And it is this ignorant so-called ‘faith’ which is one of the most dangerous things in the world. It is because that so-called ‘faith’ is really more a political allegiance sometimes, rather than a spiritual thing. The danger of this kind of so-called ‘faith,’ you can see in Ireland, in Northern Ireland, where they are fighting and killing each other. This kind of thing is a disgrace to the name of God.
You will notice one thing: that the deeper your faith goes, the greater is your understanding, the greater is your love. But this ‘little kind of faith,’ you do not know exactly what to call it, which is really ending up merely as a political allegiance, is a very dangerous thing and is very bad in the sense that it disgraces the name of the Lord. Thus, we need to deepen that faith both in the understanding of God’s Word and in this direct spiritual experience. This is the reason why the Lord Jesus is so concerned that we get to know God in a personal way. Consider for a moment that if your faith today, the faith that you have, is not a faith that is based on a personal relation to God, which is an experiential relation with God, what sort of faith is the faith that you have? Is it just again intellectual? Is it political? What kind of faith is this? You will find that whether a person is a Roman Catholic or a Protestant, if that person really loves God and has a personal relation with God, we understand one another perfectly.
Experiencing God’s Power Makes Us A Different Kind Of Christian
Now, let me show you, for example, in one of these occasions when I went to evangelize in Ireland, I prayed to the Lord that he would give me someone to go with me, so that the scriptural principle of going two by two could be fulfilled. And so, as I prayed about this, I invited one particular person in the church in London to go with me. He was a very good Christian. He was one who really, you could say, loved the Lord, in the normal sense of the word that is used today in the churches. His faith in the Word of God, his love for the fellow Christians - all this was fine. So, he went out with me to Ireland. In those three weeks in Ireland, it changed his life. So deeply was he moved by what he experienced of God’s power that when we went back on the ship as we were leaving Ireland, we stood on the ship and he turned to me and he said, “Eric, how about we just stand here and give thanks to God. In these three weeks, my whole understanding of God has been utterly changed! Up to now, I have simply believed God in my head and maybe also in my heart very truly. But now, I have seen with my eyes what God can do.” Three weeks of miracles! He said that this is incredible. It was just unbelievable. He said, “I never knew that my God was so wonderful! I never knew that. Every Sunday, I went to church. I never knew that my God is so amazing. But now I have seen; now I understand.”
This is what I mean: the difference between a good church-going Christian and one who knows his God. It is the difference between what average Christians are and what Paul says, “I know whom I have believed.” [2 Tim. 1:12] There is a vast difference between these two. Are you one of those Christians who can say with Paul, “I know! I know whom I have believed”? I am afraid that the majority would not be able to say that with any conviction. The things that God did were so amazing that he was just bowled over, just staggered because he had never experienced such things in his life. It is so wonderful; you launch out into the deep! He went out not knowing what to expect. I simply invited him to come and serve the Lord with me; he went out with me. How many times I had seen the expression on his face, when his mouth dropped open in astonishment at the things that God could do! Such was the change as a result of these three weeks that he committed his life into the Lord’s service, that when he finished his training in engineering, he handed over his life to serve the Lord and he went into training for the Lord’s work.
God’s power was being seen from the first day we moved out to Ireland. Maybe I shared with some of you that day when we first went out and we were riding on two motorcycles, and how somehow, something went wrong with the brakes on my motorcycle. I had already flown off once from it on a wet day. That is, when I touched the brakes, the whole thing flew off and I nearly broke my skull. So, as we were going out that day, I said to this brother, “Let us pray together that the Lord will overrule in this weather until we can get these brakes fixed.” The weather forecast was saying, “It’s rain coming down.” And so, we prayed. Now, not only does God answer amazingly, but the way he answered really was staggering. He lets you know that he is answering your prayer, so that you can see it visibly with your eyes. I think it was for the benefit of this brother; at least for him in particular.
Thus, what was happening is that as we were riding out westward to Ireland from London, through the whole period, the cloud followed us, leveled with us, all the way through. Behind us it was black and raining; in front was blue sky and sunshine. Can you imagine that for 12 hours, the cloud followed us directly overhead? 12 hours! Of course, it is too far to reach Ireland in one day; we have to break it in two stages. The moment we arrived in Wales, the place where we went to spend the night, literally as we stepped in through the door - as the foot stepped on the door, on the threshold of the door, as though we had pressed the button - the rain came straight down that very moment. When it came down, it did not come in a little drizzle(毛毛雨). It came down in a shower, just a bucket coming down. That was the first time my friend - as he stood there in the doorway - his mouth dropped open, he said, “God is really incredible!” So, you can imagine that after three weeks of this - seeing the wonders of the Lord - what kind of a different Christian he became.
“If You Wish Man To Do To You, Do So To Them” Is A Condition To “Ask, You Shall Receive”
Thus, the Lord Jesus said, “Ask, you shall receive.” He said it not only in the Sermon on the Mount. In John Chapter 16, too, he said, “Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” [v24] he wants our joy to be full! And so, when we come to this verse today, we saw the connection. It says, “Therefore.” ‘Therefore’ - the connection between [Matthew Chapter 7] v11 and v12 is to see what is the connection with the verse we are going to study today and what went on concerning the asking. And v12 says this: “Therefore…whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets.” [KJV] You say, “What is the connection? This sentence seems to have no connection with what went on before. How can you say ‘therefore’? “Therefore” - what is the connection?” The connection is precisely this: that if you want God to answer you, if you want to hear God’s dealing with you and speaking to you, then this v12 is the connection.
We have always seen that God gives us a promise, but his promises are not unconditional. He does not just throw his promises to anybody. It does not mean that you can live a life that is disgraceful to God, that you can behave in a disgraceful manner, and still say that God will give you everything you ask for. That is no promise that God is going to make to you. His promises are wonderful, but his conditions are also to be met.
What does, then, v12 mean in one sentence? It means that God will answer those who do his will. Unless you are prepared to do his will, then of course, if you ask him, you have not fulfilled his condition. You do not expect that he is going to answer you. So, here is the importance of this verse. If we want the Lord to answer us, if we want to know God in this living way, then it is important to know what is our part that we need to do.
The Negative Form Is A Fundamental Principle In The Morality Of Worldly People
So, let us then consider what the Lord Jesus is saying to us here. What exactly is meant by these words: “Whatever you would that other people should to do you, so do to them”? Now, we find its negative form in Jewish teaching, and also there is a statement in Confucius that sounds similar to this. The negative form goes [in this way]: “What you do not want other people to do to you, then do not do to them.” Now, that is quite easy to understand. If you do not want other people to punch you in the nose, then do not punch them in the nose. If you do not want other people to steal your things, then do not steal their things. If you do not want other people to kill you, so do not go and kill others. This does not tie in too well with human philosophy in some ways because sometimes the idea is ‘xian xia shou wei qiang,’ (先下手為强) that is, “I kill him first before he kills me.” So, you say, “I don’t want him to kill me, but I don’t know whether he might want to kill me. He might decide to kill me, so I can’t be too sure of this.” And so, even though the negative form is a weak form, it still says something. It still fulfills the Law to some extent, in the sense that, of course, you will not commit murder, if you follow the principle, in which you will not murder someone on the understanding that you will not do to him what he will not do to you.
So, let us first notice that there is a world of difference between the negative statement that Hillel, that is, the Jewish teacher and others made and the positive teaching of the Lord Jesus. It is because ‘not to do a thing’ is not the same as ‘doing a thing.’ But the man in sin, that is, the man in the world, if he wishes to accept morality at all, he is willing to go only as far as the negative form. That would mean to say, that is, in everyday language, it means something like this: “I wish other people to leave me alone, so I’ll leave them alone.” So, we say, “You leave me alone. I leave you alone. All right? Then we have an understanding with one another.” That would seem to be quite a high point in the morality of the world. If I do not attack you, it is already quite a good thing, so we just leave each other alone. So, this negative form is quite a fundamental principle in the morality of worldly people.
In fact, last evening we were discussing with some brothers, I was getting some instruction on the Hong Kong way of thinking, trying to understand how people come to think in certain ways in Hong Kong and showing the difference between them and the Malaysian Christians. We were observing that Malaysian Christians are much more outgoing. It is very much easier to talk with them. They do not have so many obstacles, so many iron doors in front them. One brother was saying, he lived in an apartment in Hong Kong for two years and he never knew the person who lived on the door across the corridor, 6 feet away from his own door.
I know from my own experience when I was looking for some people, that when you ring the bell, the inner door opens, the outer steel door remains closed. Not only are the steel bars there, there is a steel plate as well. The steel plate does not even have one hole in it, so I cannot even see the person I am talking to. There is only a small gap from the floor to the bottom of the steel plate and a small gap from the top of the steel plate to the ceiling. The mentality seems to be: “You leave me alone; I leave you alone. We will just talk through the steel door.” I suppose it is because there is so much crime that people have to behave like this. They just want to be left alone. In Hong Kong, I always hear those special words in Cantonese : “da gip (打刧)” [meaning robbery]. That is one word in my Cantonese vocabulary. Thus, we find that OK, we will accept the negative form of the teaching: “You leave me alone; I leave you alone.”
As Christian, We Have To Break Down Barriers And Reach Out To Others
But when we become Christians, we cannot continue to be like this. That is very difficult for us if we are used to a mentality which just wants to keep the distance from other people. So, to become a Christian means, in the Lord’s teaching, such a change that we have to go out and do what he teaches us to do. You see, love is always outgoing. You cannot say, “I love the guy, but I don’t want to see his face.” If you are truly a Christian, you have to break down the barriers. You have to break down the barrier in your own heart and you have to break down the barrier in the other person’s heart. We have to go out to other people. That is very difficult especially if you are brought up to stay away from people and not to talk to them.
So, if you want to fulfill the teaching in Mt. 7:12 that we are looking at today, the first step, which is a difficult step for many people, is to come out of one’s own shell and reach out to other people. You will find that to reach out, to come out of yourself, to open your steel doors, seems to expose you to considerable danger. Immediately, your first reaction is to shrink back and to hide behind those doors again. You find yourself secure behind those doors. But being a Christian is precisely not to feel secure in this way. If you want to do the Word of God, if you want to do God’s will, you must be prepared to go out and accept the danger of going out. You have to reach forward to other people and begin with the brothers and sisters in the church. It worries me that in the church, there are so many barriers. Well, we just spoke about the family fellowship. It is to break down the barriers where you can give yourself out. You can see that that is a venture of faith, isn’t it? That is the first step of faith: when you are willing to expose yourself to the danger of contact with other people.
I was reading a letter from Liverpool the other day. A very young Christian in our church went to a conference in another part of England. When she tried to reach out to the other people, she found that some people just did not respond. You find that that is, sort of, painful. You try to say ‘hello’ to somebody and that somebody just sort of says, “Umm… hi.” And you find [yourself saying], “Oh, yeah. Next time I’m not sticking my neck out again for this kind of reception.”
I remember when I first went to England, [I found] the English people were so reserved, so conservative. When I went there, I was by nature very friendly. I went around. I would greet people, and say, “Hi there!” and would say ‘hello’ to them. They sort of look at you, [as if to say,] “What’s wrong with him?” It is because English people do not express themselves like that. [They are noted for] their stiff upper lip; [they are] very straight. You are to say, “Hello,” and then you walk on. You do not wave your hands like this [i.e., wave a warm greeting]. You have to behave in a very cold manner. They call that ‘dignified,’ you see. I have to confess that after a few months of this, I got very fed up with them. Actually, when you understand them, they are not as cold as they appear to be, but they also have to learn to break out of these barriers that they have built up in their own tradition, in their own thinking.
The Sin We Commit Is Not Doing What We Should Be Doing
So, when you are a Christian, the first step is that you have to reach out, if you are going to fulfill the Lord’s teaching here. Many Christians think that if I do not do anything, I cannot go wrong; I cannot commit any sin. But I want to tell you that the Lord’s teaching tells you that this is wrong. When you look at the Lord’s teaching concerning the judgment, the people who are judged are not the ones - as far as the church is concerned - who committed this or that sin, but they are judged for not doing what they should have done. So, in Matthew Chapter 25, for example in v14, in the Parable of the Talents and the Pounds, what do we read here? We read that the servant who did nothing is the one who is punished. He just buried the talent committed to him in the ground. He did nothing with it; that was his crime. The lesson is: God gives to you eternal life. God gives you a spiritual life. If you do not do anything with it, that will be your crime.
In the next parable, Mt. 25:31 onwards, we find that the sheep and the goats are separated out. Are the goats punished because they did a lot of bad things? They are punished because they did not do what they should have done. “When I was in prison,” the Lord Jesus said, “you did not visit me. When I was hungry, you gave me nothing to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me nothing to drink. When I was cold, you gave me nothing to wear. Depart from me, you evildoers!” It is a surprise, isn’t it? They are condemned because they did not do anything. That was their crime. So much of the Lord’s teaching emphasizes this very point to the Christians and warned Christians: “Do not think you are safe because you did nothing. Your crime - your sin is precisely - that you did nothing.”
In the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, the rich man’s sin was precisely that he did nothing. When Lazarus was outside his door, he gave him nothing to eat, and the poor man died. The rich man did not go out and kill the poor man. He just did nothing. He just left him outside the gate. He left him to die there. By doing nothing, you have committed the sin. When you see your brother and sister in need, by not helping him or helping her, that was your sin. When you see the church in need, either material or spiritual, and you did nothing, that was your sin. When you see the non-Christians perishing outside, you did nothing; that was your sin. So, it is no use on the Day of Judgment to come to God and say, “Lord, I didn’t do anything” as though that would be an excuse. That is precisely your sin. You did not do anything. So, the first thing we must understand in the Lord’s teaching here is that a Christian must go out and do, and if he does not do it, that is sin. Here, you can see why the negative teaching of ‘not doing’ is itself is a teaching which is completely unacceptable to Christ.
If We Do Not Go Out And Do What We Ought To Do, We Will Not Experience God
So, ask yourself, have you been doing what you ought to be doing? If you have not even been doing what you ought to be doing as a Christian, how can we still be talking about experiencing God? It is precisely because you do not do anything, that is why you cannot experience God. That is precisely the thing with this brother I was talking about. He believed in God. He believed with his head, he believed with his heart, but up to that point, he did not do anything. He was just as good as a dead Christian. But when he went out with me to Ireland, he began to do, and then he began to experience.
Now when he went out with me, it was a very risky business for him to go with me. You say, “What danger?” Many dangers! Well, for one thing, riding a motorcycle is very dangerous to begin with. When he asked me, “How are we going to Ireland?” I said, “On a motorcycle.” He said, “What! All the way to Ireland on a motorcycle?” “Well,” I said, “that is the cheapest way we can travel, isn’t it?” But anyone who has ridden a motorcycle knows how many dangers there are in riding a motorcycle. I rode a motorcycle for several years and I think I must have nearly gotten killed quite a few times during those years. But I use it because it is so cheap. You can have two people in it and it uses so little gas.
I also told you there were dangers in preaching the Gospel. In Ireland, you could be beaten up, you could get killed, too, just in preaching the Gospel. There is also expense. Even if the gas that is used is little, for a long journey, it still will come to quite a lot of money. And we were paying for the Lord’s work out of our own pockets; we were not being financed by any organization. We also have to buy food to eat during those three weeks. All this means is that when you go out to do, there will be dangers, there will be costs. But unless you are willing to go and do, you will never experience the power of God.
You Do What You Desire Spiritually That Others Do To You
But when you say, “All right, we will go out and do,” exactly by what principle will we do what we need to do? And here the Lord Jesus says, “Here is the principle. You will do just what you would expect others to do to you.” Now, this is not all that difficult to understand either. He does not say, “Do to others what they do to you.” That would mean to say, if they punch you, you punch them; that is “do to others what they do to you.” So, in this way, it would be the principle of “eye for eye , tooth for tooth.” No, what the Lord Jesus says is what you would desire, what you wish them to do to you, that you do to them.
Now, we have to understand this carefully. It could mean, for example, I would like people to flatter me, so I will flatter them. That is “li shang wang lai,” (禮尚往來) - I flatter you; remember to flatter me, when it comes to that [time].” You say, “How can Jesus be teaching something like this?” No, remember who he is speaking to. He is speaking to his disciples, people who have already been born again, who have become new persons. He is not talking to non-Christians. The Sermon on the Mount and the principles in the Sermon on the Mount are not for non-Christians. It is for those who know God or who have committed their lives in order to know God. Only then it means that you have spiritual desire. What you desire is spiritual, not flattery nor presents nor things like this, [e.g.,] I give you an Easter egg, so you give an Easter egg.
So, how will we understand this? What is it that we desire? If my desire is spiritual, what do I desire from other people? I do not desire an ice-cream. [The carnal man thinks,] “I buy you an ice cream and you owe me one ice cream later.” The spiritual man desires spiritual things. What do I desire? I desire that people will love me in a spiritual way, so I will love them. I desire that if I have unwittingly offended against you that you will forgive me, and so I forgive you, too. I desire that if I were in financial trouble or in physical trouble or in spiritual trouble that you will stand by me, as my brother and my sister. Therefore, because I desire this, then when I see you in spiritual need or in material need, I will come to help you. But notice that this is a spiritual desire. I have no guarantee that what I do for you, you will do for me. Here, it is not asking for any guarantee. But it is doing this as a spiritual ideal, that is, what I hope that you will do for me, that I will do for you, even if you will never do for me what I hope you would do. But you can see that the Lord Jesus is setting before us a wonderful spiritual ideal.
Help Those In Need, That Someday You Can Expect Help From God
But there is also the other principle in here. What you do not do to others, how can you expect that God will move others to do for you. For example, if you see your brother and sister in spiritual need, and you do not go to help that person, one day when you are in spiritual need or in material need, do you think you have a right to expect God will move someone else to help you? It is precisely in the ‘doing’ that you fulfill the condition whereby it will be done to you, too. This means simply this: If today in your generosity, you are helping brothers and sisters, for example, in their financial need, one day when you are in financial need, you can be certain that God will never let you down. You will be certain that whatever your financial need will be, God will always come to your help, or move others to come to your help. Would that not be wonderful - to realize that God will stand by you on that day? You will have the absolute certainty that God will come and rescue you financially because you rescued others financially. On that day, you will say, “Lord, how wonderful you are! You never fail! I experience now for myself what you do for me.” But if today you are not helping your brother and sister, then one day when you are in trouble, what right do you expect, what rights have you got, to ask for help from the Lord? You have no right! And God, you will find, will simply not come to your help. It is time for you to learn that as you did not do to others, so it will not be done to you.
That then will be the principle again, which we saw at the beginning of Matthew Chapter 7, which said, “With what measure you measure out to other people, it will be measured by God to you.” So, to give to a brother and sister in need today is costly. It costs you from your pocket. Sure it does. Do not say to yourself, “Oh, I will never be in financial trouble. You see, my job is very steady.” One day, you may have no job at all; you will be in big trouble. And do not say to yourself, “I’ve got $10,000 in the bank. I’m quite all right.” Even in my relatively short lifetime, I have seen many fortunes disappear. I have seen the rich become poor and beg for food even on the streets. But that will never happen to a child of God, if he lives as a child of God. As David said in his psalms, “I have seen the young lions go hungry, but I have never seen the righteous go hungry.” [Ps. 34:10] I testify that it is absolutely true: God never lets you down! Ask and you shall receive, provided that today those who are in need, you are doing for them as you would have them do for you.
Christ Loved Us While We Were His Enemies
Notice in the Scriptural teaching that the Lord Jesus comes to our help when we are in need, when we were still his enemies, he loved us, because he wants us to love him. There is nothing shameful to desire to be loved. It will be very strange if a person said, “I don’t care whether anybody loves me or not.” If a husband says, “I don’t care if my wife loves me,” or a wife says, “I don’t care if my husband loves me,” you would think, “What is so righteous and good about that?” We saw precisely this: that Christ does for us what he would have us do for him. That is, he wants us to love him and he loved us first.
We would wish that our enemies will not hate us anymore, that they would love us. But if you sit there to wait for that day, it will never come. So, we take the initiative; we love them first. If he slaps me across the face, it is because he hates me. If I slap him back, we will just make the hatred worse. I want him to love me, that he would not be my enemy anymore. What shall I do? I have to take the initiative; I love him first. So, when he slaps me, instead of slapping him back and making the fight even worse, I turn the other cheek as a proof that I want to love him, as evidence that I do not want to fight him, as evidence that we want to be friends. I want him to love me. I want to love him. I have to take the initiative. I have to pay the price.
So, this shows what the Lord Jesus is saying that we, as Christians, must be positive. We take the initiative; we go out and reach out to the others. And so, in the same way, the Lord Jesus loved us when we were still his enemy because he desires that we should become his friends. If you are not a Christian today, you need to understand: Jesus loved you before you ever loved him. When I think about it today, that when I was a non-Christian, I ridiculed the church, I opposed the Christians, and even then, Jesus had already loved me.
Thus, you can see that by fulfilling this teaching here in v12, we become Christ-like. We behave just as Jesus behaved. And when we behave like he does, we can be sure that when we ask from the Lord whatever we desire, he will answer it. Whatever we desire as a Christ-like person will, of course, be spiritual. It is just like those wonderful words in the Psalm, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” So much does he love you that as you live in such a life that glorifies him, he looks at the desire of your heart. Maybe you have not even asked for it, but He knows that in your heart you want it and he gives it to you.
It is so wonderful to walk with God. You know, sometimes I have desired something in my heart, but I dare not say it to the Lord. I said, “Maybe it is not so spiritual to desire this.” Yet, so much does God love us, and so much does he love me, he put me to shame. Time and again, I have experienced that he gave me the things that I desired in my heart. I said, “Lord, you really look into my heart. I didn’t even ask for it, but you knew it was in my heart.” And he has given it to me. Our God is so good to us!
The Principle In Action: Even When We Are Depressed, In Financial Need, Etc.
But, of course, when we love the Lord, it is not in order that we can get something in the material sense. Yet, so much does he love us that he gives us the heart’s desire. But through fulfilling this teaching, we become Christ-like, and God loves the Christ-like people. It means also Christ-likeness in everyday living. This means ‘doing to others what I would that they do to me’ will transform our whole way of thinking. Take for example: You are feeling depressed. What would you like people to do to you when you are feeling depressed? You say, “Of course, to cheer me up!” What does the Lord say? “If that is what you want, then when you are depressed, you go out and cheer somebody else up.” You try it and see what happens. Instead of saying to yourself, “I feel depressed, I feel depressed, I feel depressed,” the whole day long, what do you do? You [could] say, “What is with these brothers and sisters? They are never sensitive to my needs. Nobody comes and cheers me up! I have been waiting all day already. You know, these Christians - they never care for other people! They cannot notice my condition.” If you think like that, are you fulfilling the Lord’s teaching? No! When you fulfill the Lord’s teaching, it is this: you feel depressed, then you say, “OK, I wished somebody would come and cheer me up, so now I am going out to cheer somebody else up.” When you cheer somebody else up, it is amazing. What happened to your depression? It is gone. It is so wonderful because you turn away from yourself. This [is the] basic problem of depression: people who are always depressed are people who are always thinking about themselves.
Or let us say financial difficulty. If you were in financial difficulty, what would you wish somebody do for you? You say, “Of course, you give me some financial help.” OK, you go and do that. You say, “What! I don’t even have enough for myself, I am going to do something for somebody else? I have got so little right now.” OK, you try it and see. You say, “I have got very little. Let us see who has need in this place?” And you go and help that person. “When I don’t have enough yet I go and help the other person. What do you think I am trying to do?” You are going to see what God will do.
Oh, you will be amazed what God will do for you. You may have only $10. You take $5 out of the $10 and say, “Who is in need? I give the $5 to him.” So now, you are in more trouble; you have only got $5 left. Not at all! You are going to see what God will do for you. Now, I will not dare to tell you to do such ridiculous things, if I did not know my God. I preach because I know my God. You honor him; he will honor you. You will see his glory. I have tried it, I know. And the more you give, the more you get. Do you dare to try it? That is the courage of faith.
Here the Lord said, “Do to others what you wish they would do for you.” You wish them to help you, you help others. That is the way to do it. This is a challenge of faith. You step out in faith. Is it dangerous? Oh, it is dangerous! I mean you reduce your actual holdings to half; that is very dangerous. And if you do not trust in the living God, you would never dare to take that step. But if you want to see what God can do, you take a step of faith. Surely, if I did not know my God, I would not ask you to do such foolish things. If Jesus were not true, he would not ask you to do such ridiculous things. His Word never fails.
Venture Forth In Faith And See That God Is Real
So, as a church, we need to learn this, and as individuals, we need to learn this. Is your money your security or is God your security? Of course, if money is your security, you feel more secure if you have more, that is clear. But if God is your security, you do not look at how much you have got in the bank. As a church, we need to learn this, too. That is why last night I spoke to some of the brothers and sisters in the church. Up to now, many times our church has had financial difficulties, but has just managed to survive. I say, “OK, now we venture forth in faith! From now on, the church will give one-tenth of its income into the Lord’s work.” “Hey,” you say, “we barely survive and we are going to give one-tenth as well?” I said, “Now we give one-tenth, and the Lord willing, in the next few months we will give two-tenths, three-tenths. Finally we come to the time when we can give nine-tenths of the church income to the Lord’s work to help brothers and sisters. That is what we want to aim for.”
We want to see how God is real! I want the whole church to see that God is real. I want you to see as a church that the more the church gives, the more God will bless it. Now you can see, so we will become Christlike because we will be doing what Christ does, not waiting for others to start something first, but ‘doing,’ venturing out in faith. Thus, we will become, as individual Christians, people who show forth the glory of God in our life, and also as a church, to show forth the glory of God. That is our mission in the world. That is what God has called us to do. That is why our calling is called the ‘high’ calling, to show forth God’s glory in the world, to be the light of the world. And we will be so, if we fulfill the Lord’s teaching here.
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church