“In Everything”: the comprehensive call to love our neighbor

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

Now, even though it could feel like Jesus’ summary statement in Matthew 7:12 is the sort of thing you would find in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, there is one little phrase that makes that impossible. It’s this phrase: “in everything…” This little phrase, just one word in Greek, captures so much.

Now, think with me about what it would look like for all of our actions to reflect this:

  • what actions would we take in order to love others: our spouses, our colleagues, our children, our parents, total strangers, those in need?
  • what actions would we hold back from in order to truly love and serve others?

Consider what it would look like for all of our words to reflect Jesus’ guidance:

  • what words would we speak in order to truly love and serve others?
  • what words would never cross our lips in order to truly love and serve others?

And then there are our thoughts, our inner meditations. Jesus once said,

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)

We often talk about having a filter on what we say or do. It is good to have a filter, but what would it look like to let our thoughts and inner, unexpressed desires reflect Jesus’ teaching about treating others the way we would want to be treated. Consider with me:

  • what do our inner thoughts say about how much we truly love others?
  • what do we say in private about others that we would never speak in public? Why is there a difference?

And what about one more category that may seem strange. What about our non-thoughts; the ways we naturally see and evaluate people and situations without even thinking about it? What do our non-thoughts—our prejudices, assumptions, and non-cognitive ways of assessing people—say about our love or lack of love for others? How might our lives and interactions with others be transformed as we let God reach into and transform our non-thoughts?

Jesus tells us:

“In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

From top to bottom, from the inside to the outside,Jesus’ disciples live in God’s love and live with God’s love for others.

Real Love: the golden rule

This past weekend at Eastbrook, as we continued our series “Becoming Real” on the Sermon on the Mount, we looked at the one verse that summarizes the Sermon on the Mount, as well as the Law and the Prophets:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

This one little verse, known as the golden rule, is perhaps one of the most famous statements of Jesus, even if many do not attribute it to Him.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire “Becoming Real” series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

The Summary Statement

  • Summarizing the Law and the Prophets
  • Summarizing the Sermon on the Mount

Living with Love for Others

  • Echoes in the Gospel of Matthew
  • Echoes in the Scriptures
  • Echoes in other sources
  • The resounding positivity of Jesus’ command

In Everything

  • Our actions
  • Our words
  • Our thoughts
  • Our non-thoughts

Living in Love as Jesus’ Disciples

  1. We need to live in God’s love for us.
  2. We need to cultivate God’s love for others.
  3. We need to let God change us more and more through His love.

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ teaching on real love in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 7:12 this week.
  • Take time to pray through your relationships (e.g., friends, spouse, family members, coworkers, neighbors, classmates), asking God to help you love them more fully. Then consider people you find it difficult to love, whether in these relationships or not. Ask God to change your heart and help you put love into action.
  • Put love into action this week by spending time with or serving someone in a practical way: make a meal, stop by to visit, make a phone call, listen, help with a project, or some other way.
  • Consider reading an article with background on this passage by John J. Collins, “Love Your Neighbor: How It Became the Golden Rule”

What Must Happen If We Want to Love Others: Encountering the Heart of the Golden Rule

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In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus summarizes all the Law and the prophets—the entire Old Testament guidance from God—with a simple sentence known as the golden rule: “do to others as you would have them do to you.” In some ways, this is even more concise and straightforward than another of Jesus’ well-known teachings about what God is looking for. In that other setting (Matthew 22:36-40), after beings asked what the greatest commandment is in God’s law, Jesus sums up everything by calling human beings to love God with all of who we are and love our neighbor as ourselves.

Here, however, the golden rule calls us immediately into action, forcing us to avoid abstraction with the emphatic: “do to others as you would have them do to you.” The place of reflection begins with the question, “Am I loving so-and-so as myself?” And so we may begin to think about others and what holds us back from loving them. But here, reflection is immediately plunged into the much more measurable question, “Am I doing toward so-and-so what I wish so-and-so was doing to me?”

This is why the golden rule is not only memorable but powerful. Quickly, in Jesus’ statement we are confronted by many issues we otherwise might avoid. Not only are we forced to consider, “Should I call that person facing difficulty today because that is the sort of care I would like to receive from someone?”, but the more emphatic call to action, “If that’s what I wish someone would do for me, then that is what I should do by  God’s grace and power.” It is not contemplation of the act of love that counts, but moving to action in love. Jesus tells us “this is the law and the prophets.” In other words, all the previous guidance of God was to force us into the encounter with the love of God that leads us into the activity of love toward others.

Living the Golden Rule.002Here is one of the places where the golden rule is more than just activity, however. Jesus’ words push us into the territory of our hearts, where we encounter both the beauty and the deficiency within. As Jesus says in another place, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart” (Matthew 12:28, NLT).  What we do flows from who we are.

If we struggle to live out the golden rule the cause is not because we do not know something or are missing the right techniques or skills. It is fundamentally a heart problem pointing to what we love and desire.  Human barriers within me stand in the way of love’s action. Because I do not see others as human made in the image of God as I see myself as human, I fail to love. Because I fear that my love given to others will not be reciprocated to me, I fail to love. Because I do not really want really good things to come to others in ways that outpace good things coming to me, I fail to love. The possibilities are as various as the human heart is unique, but all of them lead us into a deep encounter with ourselves and our hearts. Each of these examples are not failures of technique or action, but heart failure. The fundamental problem in our failure to love is a that love has not transformed our desires at the most basic level.

And so, Jesus’ teaching brings us ultimately into an encounter with the God who is love. When we find—or perhaps, better, are found by—God’s love, that love begins to transform every sphere of our lives and dark corner of our hearts. As that happens, our desires in life, and specifically the way we see and loves others, also is transformed. The more we know the love of God, the more our lives are changed.  Jesus’ words in the golden rule takes us on a journey of transformation that begins by looking outward toward others, leads us inward to our own need for God, and then takes us back outward to engage with others. Changed from the inside out, we steadily become people who love others, not just in contemplation or abstraction, but in the tangible doing that the golden rule invites us into.

Lord, help me to love others like You do and to love in action even as I desire for myself to be loved in action. Transform my heart, bring order to my desires, and shape me to reflect You in this world.

Living Like Light in the World

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As I concluded our series, “Will You Be My Neighbor?”, this past weekend at Eastbrook, I took a practical look at how John 8:12 and Matthew 5:14 fit together in our faith and practice. In these two verse, a theme of light from God shining through Jesus and His people come together, yet in different directions:

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world.’” (John 8:12)

“You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) 

There is a lot in here, but as it was a family worship weekend for us, I tried to use more story-telling and practical application to our lives. Maybe that worked and maybe it didn’t. You can watch/listen and let me know.

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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Barriers to Loving Your Neighbor

Neighbor Series GFX_16x9 Title This past weekend at Eastbrook, as we continued our series, “Will You Be My Neighbor?”, Dan Ryan helped us consider barriers we have to loving our neighbor. Touching upon the key aspects of what it means to be Modern, American, and Evangelical, Dan opened up some very helpful insights through story-telling and study of the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. exploration of what it means to take the great commandment literally.

You can watch Dan’s message below, which I would highly recommend. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.