It is reported that Confucius, the Chinese philosopher who lived about 500 years before Christ, said, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
Socrates, the great philosopher who lived in Greece nearly 400 years before Jesus, once said, “What stirs your anger when done to you by others, that do not do to others.”
The great Jewish rabbi, Hillel, who lived about the same time as the Lord said it this way, “Do not do to thy neighbor what is hateful to thyself.”
Now some people might hear these words and be impressed that the Golden Rule was not original with Jesus. Maybe He was just copying what these great men had said. Their words sound just like His, don’t they?
But they are not like His. The words of Jesus are very different. You see, all of these are in the negative. We are not to hurt others. We are not to be cruel to others. These admonitions are negative.
What Jesus said was far more difficult, far more convicting. He said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is in the positive sense.
You see, it is far easier to avoid others altogether than it is to love them. The words of the other great thinkers might move us away from aggressive behavior toward others, but they do not call us to love. They might move us toward a sense of fairness and justice, but there is no kindness, no mercy, in those words.
Jesus wanted us to love others. He commanded us to love others over and over throughout the Scriptures. A few years ago my church went through a serious look at the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians to see if we could understand this love we are called to do. We learned that this love is not humanly possible.
That’s what I want to talk about this week. No matter how much we learn about love, loving is still hard. There are those who seem unlovable. There are those we really don’t want to know, let alone love. Then there are others we know too well to love. Yet, all of these we are called to love.
How in the world can we do it?