Avoiding a Double Standard

Avoiding a Double Standard

Matthew 7:13

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

 

            Matthew 7:13 is a verse that provides a succinct statement of value and the treatment of others.  It is a verse frequently quoted, especially by parents to their children to teach them the importance of reacting to others.  However, while the proverb is widespread and often repeated, in reality, it is much more challenging to implement in our lives.

            The verse begins with a connection with the previous discussion.  The statement starts with the word “therefore,” which points us back to the preceding discussion and gives the results of the prior action.  We often see the Sermon on the Mount as a series of independent statements and principles rather than an interrelated sermon.  To understand this proverbial “golden rule,” we must place it in the overall context.  In 7:1-6 Christ warns us of the danger of condemning others for their faults while conveniently overlooking our own.  We criticize people for their shortcomings but justify and rationalize our actions even though they are far worse.  However, rather than being critical and judgmental, we must be loving and forgiving towards others.  Christ then illustrates the principle by reminding us of God’s treatment of us.  Rather than condemning us for our sins (which God is undoubtedly justified to do), God responds to our requests and provides for our needs.  God does the exact opposite to us.

            Verse 12 then serves to provide the application.  When we come before God, we seek grace, forgiveness, and his divine provision for our daily needs.  We recognize we are sinners and gratefully seek his blessing.  God not only forgives us our sins, but he graciously gives us all things.  Instead of giving the judgment we deserve, God gives us eternal blessings and fellowship with him.  He gives us the very opposite.  

            However, we often live by a double standard.  On the one hand, we desire mercy and grace from God, but on the other, we react with harshness and reproach toward others when they have wronged us. We want to be treated by a different standard than the standard we use in responding to others. Verse 12  serves as the conclusion and application of the previous two principles.  Not only are we to treat others by the same standard that we desire them to treat us, but we are also to treat others with the same forgiveness, grace, and care God gives us.  The standard that governs our interaction with others is not just the pattern others set in their treatment of us but the benchmark God establishes in his response to us.

            This leads us to the critical question.  Do we act towards others in the same measure we want them to treat us?  Yet the question is more profound, “Do we treat others with the same standard that we desire God to treat us?”  What would happen if God reacted to us the way we respond to others?   This is not just the summation of the Old Testament ethical law for our actions towards others; it is also the summation of God’s redemptive work revealed in the Old Testament.  God provides the measure of how we are to react to others.  It is not just that we should respond to kindness towards others because they are kind to us.  We are to respond with grace, forgiveness, and concern for others because God has been gracious and forgiving towards us and concerned about our welfare.  To avoid a double standard, we need to follow the standard of God.

            

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