A Motto or A Mandate

Title: A Motto or A Mandate

Bible Book: Luke 6 : 31

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Others; Golden Rule; Christian Living



Roger Moberg shares, “It is truly astonishing what happens in Bible stories when they are retold by young scholars around the world....  [For example, one said,] Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do one to others before they do one to you.”1

Maybe you have heard of the following Golden Rules:

If you open it, close it.

If you turn it on, turn it off.

If you unlock it, lock it.

If you break it, fix it.

If you can't fix it, call in someone who can.

If you borrow it, return it.

If you use it, take care of it.

If you make a mess, clean it up.

If you move it, put it back.

If it belongs to somebody else and you want to use it, get permission.

If you don't know how to operate it, leave it alone.

If it doesn't concern you, don't mess with it! 2

Pat Williams, senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, writes, “Jesus made a statement that sums up his teaching on the subject of how we should treat one another.  ‘In every situation,’ he said, ‘always do to other people what you would have them do to you, for this is what genuine religion boils down to.’ That principle is known today as the Golden Rule; if everyone in the world would live by that simple rule, imagine how our world would be transformed!”3 Edwin Markham (1852-1940) writes, “We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life.”4  Do you believe the words of Luke 6:31, known as the Golden Rule, are a motto or a mandate?  In Luke 6:31 Jesus said, “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”

Note three aspects of this well-known verse.

I. First, this verse speaks about our aspiration.

The supreme aspiration is to be like Jesus!  1 John 3:1-3 reads, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”  Psalm 17:15 reads, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”   

Rev. James Smith (1802-1862), predecessor of Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) at New Park Street Chapel, London, preached a message titled “Paul's Seven Wishes” based in part on Philippians 3:10, where we read, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings — becoming like him in His death!”  Rev. Smith shares the following comments, “Paul's next all-absorbing desire was to be CONFORMED to Christ! It was not enough to know Christ, to win Christ, to magnify Christ, or to be in Christ; Paul wishes to be LIKE Christ! He would breathe His spirit, exhibit His temper, copy His example, and be just like Christ! He desired to be like Christ in poverty, like Christ in suffering, like Christ in death itself! Paul desired to be exactly like Jesus! Meek — as Jesus was meek. Patient — as Jesus was patient. Loving — as Jesus was loving. Useful — as Jesus was useful. In every point resembling Him! What admiration of Christ is here! What love to Christ!

What self-renunciation! What power of grace! What a wonderful transformation! How unlike 'Saul of Tarsus', the Pharisee of the Pharisees, the persecutor of the church, the blasphemer of the Nazarene! What could be more unlike? Once he saw no beauty in Christ — now he sees nothing but beauty! Once he could not bear the mention of His name — now he never seems happy, but when pronouncing it! Once he was exceedingly violent against Christ and His people — now his heartfelt abiding cry is, ‘I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings — becoming like Him in His death!’ Dear reader, have you ever experienced any such change? Are you panting, praying, striving to be like Jesus? Are you willing to be anything that Jesus was — that you may be like Him? Are you willing to suffer even death — that you may be conformed to Him? My soul, this is a very high attainment — aspire to it! Seek grace day by day at the throne of grace — that you may so love, so admire, so adore the Savior — as to desire to be conformed to Him in life, in death, and forever!”5

II. Second, this verse speaks about our attitude. 

The supreme attitude is to think like Jesus! Philippians 2:5a reads, “Let this mind be in you. . . .” The Amplified Bible renders it this way, “Have this same attitude in yourselves. . . .” Philippians 2:1-11 reads, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Emphasis Mine) Philippians 4:8-9 reads, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

1 Corinthians 2:16 reads, “For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”  Dr. T. W. Hunt (1929-2014) wrote a book titled, The Mind of Christ.  Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Romans 12:3 reads, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Proverbs 23:7a reads, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” We must beware of the way we think. 

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) laments, “Some saints cannot do menial work while maintaining a saintly attitude, because they feel such service is beneath their dignity.”6

Beware a person can go to hell with a good attitude.  While attitude is important, it is not all important! 

III. Third, this verse speaks about our actions. 

The supreme action is to act like Jesus! 1 Peter 2:21 reads, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” This is not just asking, “What would Jesus do?”  It is doing what Jesus did. Someone said, “The best way to lead is by a good example.”  Interestingly, few people call attention to the context of this verse.  It involves suffering.  Paul the apostle writes, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).   Dr. T. De Witt Talmage (1832-1902) shares the following on our Lord Jesus Christ, “Was there ever a life so thoroughly ransacked and hypercriticised that turned out to be so perfect a life? Now, can you imagine what would have been the calamity to earth and heaven; what a bereavement to all history; what swindling, not only of the human race, but of cherubim and seraphim and archangel, if because of infernal incursion upon the bed of that Bethlehem Babe, this life of divine and glorious manhood had never been lived? The Christic parables would never have been uttered; the Sermon on the Mount, all a-drip with benedictions, never preached; the Golden Rule, in picture-frame of everlasting love, would never have been hung up for the universe to gaze upon and admire.”

Matthew 13:3-4a, 5-6, 20-21 reads, “Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: ‘Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, . . . Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. . . . But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” 

Matthew 26:30-35 reads, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.’ Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And so said all the disciples.” 

Acts 5:40-42 reads, “And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

Jeremiah Ingalls shares the following:

I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee, my Lord;

I love Thee, my Savior, I love Thee, my God;

I love Thee, I love Thee, and that Thou dost know;

But how much I love Thee my actions will show.7

Rev. Brooks Bryan writes, “It is not enough to believe in Jesus. We must learn to think like Jesus. Once we learn to think like Jesus, we’ll begin to act like Jesus.”8 Jesus asks in Luke 6:46, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) explains, “Many people use their Bibles as lights to be hung up at a Chinese feast of lanterns, for amusement, or for show. Their theology is a brilliant advertisement of their information; their Biblical studies make their conversation attractive; but bona fide practical godliness they fight shy of. They prefer the Book of Revelation to the Sermon on the Mount. Very general is this unpractical treatment of Holy Scripture. Have you not heard of the ‘Golden Rule’? A wonderful precept is that Golden Rule, and I am sure you all admire it. I have been told, that one day the Golden Rule wandered out of church into the Stock Exchange, got its hat knocked over its eyes, and was led out by the beadle [or usher], who asked, ‘What could have induced you to come here? What business have you out of church? You are neither a bull nor a bear.’ The jobbers and brokers could not do their business with this precious Golden Rule prying about; for its teaching did not allow latitude enough to either buyers or sellers. Perhaps I am mistaken. I am not sure that it was the Stock Exchange; on second thoughts, it may have been the Coal Exchange, or possibly Mark Lane. I am getting a little mixed. I wonder whether it was the Cattle Market, or Covent Garden, or Mincing Lane. Perhaps, after all, I am in error, and it was your shop. But this I do know, that the Golden Rule is always highly respected when it keeps itself to itself; but if it meddles with tradespeople, they say, ‘Business is business’: to which I would reply, ‘And business has no business to be such business as it often is.’ The Golden Rule in business generally is, ‘Do others, or others will do you.’ But the Word of God speaks in nobler fashion. Scripture lays down by-laws which the most of men treat with respectful negligence: they have no objection to the light and comfort of Scripture in sickness, sorrow, or death; but they want it not in their everyday walks in the City. This is not as it should be. Use you the light of God every day and all the day.”9


Remember the Golden Rule is often generally applied as a motto.  This puts us in control to decide what it means.  What is the specific application of it as a mandate?  Luke 6:27-38 reads, “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.  And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. ‘But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Emphasis Mine)

Matthew 7:12 reads, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  Dr. Stephen F. Olford (1918-2004) explains, “This verse is the culminating point of the Sermon on the Mount. Having spoken on the life of prayerfulness, Jesus now describes the life of lovingness—or what has been called the Golden Rule for life and living.”10 Matthew 22:34-40 reads, “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’” (Emphasis Mine) 

Dr. William Hendricksen explains, “The religious liberal has a tendency to separate the rule of love for man from the commandment of love for God. He generally minimizes the latter's importance. According to his view the Golden Rule is the sum and substance of all ethics. The one important thing in life, as he sees it, is rendering service to fellow men. It is in support of this contention that an appeal is made to Christ's Golden Rule. But such an appeal is unjustified. According to the teaching of Jesus love for God and love for one's fellow man cannot be separated (Luke 10:25-28). It should be noted that the Golden Rule does not read, ‘Treat others as they treat you,’ but ‘Treat others as you would have them treat.’ Jesus wants his followers to be distinctive.”11

“Is The Golden Rule Enough?” asks Paul E. Little (1928-1975), who explains, “One of the similarities is the belief in the Golden Rule, which is contained in almost every religion. From Confucius's time we have the statement, in various forms: do unto others as we would have others do unto us. This is sometimes assumed to be the essence of Christianity. If all Jesus Christ did was give us the Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule, he would have actually increased our frustration. Few of us can consistently keep these. Our problem has never been not knowing what we should do. Our problem, rather, has been lacking the power, the ability, to do what we know is helpful, moral, good, just, honest and kind.

Jesus Christ not only taught the Golden Rule; he came to help us keep it. This is the major distinction between Christianity and other religions. He offers us his power to live as we should, gives us forgiveness as a free gift. He gives us his ‘new’ life, his own righteousness. We can start over again. He does something for us we cannot do for ourselves.”12

Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) writes, “We hear much these days about loving our fellow men but we forget that the First Commandment is, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God...’ We cannot properly love our neighbor until we love God, and we cannot love God aright until we are born again and become His children, sharing His nature. Trying to get a pagan generation to obey the Golden Rule, and an unregenerate society to abide by the Sermon on the Mount is a waste of time.”13 

Dr. Harold L. Fickett, Jr., shares, “One day I was talking to the No. 1 Real Estate broker in the Rio Grande Valley and his lawyer said, ‘My son came home from school the other day greatly confused because he had just learned that the Bible had been translated many times.  When he asked for help, I told him to forget that and simply live by the golden rule. I assured him that by so doing he would have nothing to fear.’ Then he asked, ‘What do you think of my answer?’ ‘Not much,’ replied the broker.  ‘If you have wanted to give him just one verse it should have been John 3:16 which puts the whole plan of salvation in a nutshell. [John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”]  He should live and die by that verse, for in so doing he would have nothing to fear.’  He was right; John 3:16 does present salvation in a nutshell as it calls to our attention: (1) The reason for salvation—‘love;’ (2) The reality of salvation—‘God gave His only Son;’ (3) The requirement for salvation—‘belief,’ i.e., ‘faith,’ and (4) The result of salvation—‘shall not perish but have everlasting life.’”14

For you, is the Golden Rule a motto or a mandate?

11001 Quotes, Illustrations, and Humorous Stories: For Preachers, Teachers, and Writers, ed. Edward K. Rowell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2008), 299. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.

26,000 Plus Illustrations for Communicating Biblical Truths. Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp.

3Pat Williams, How to Be Like Jesus: Lessons on Following in His Footprints (Deerfield Beach, FL: Faith Communications, 2003), 133. 

4Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), 272. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

5James Smith, The Early and the Latter Rain “Paul’s Seven Wishes” (Halifax: Milner and Sowerby, 1856), 15-16.

6Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 5, (New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1935), 36.   

7Jeremiah Ingalls, “I Love Thee” (1805).

8Williams, Jesus, 125.

9Charles H. Spurgeon, Sermons in Candles: Two Lectures upon the Illustrations which may be Found in Common Candles, Lecture 1 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1890), 52-53.

10Stephen F. Olford, Expository Preaching Outlines – Volume 7, “The Key to a Life of Lovingness” (Matthew 7:12).

11William Hendricksen, Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke, 351. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.

12Paul E. Little, Know Why You Believe: Connecting Faith and Reason, updated and expanded by Marie Little, ed. Craig Bubeck (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 148-149.

13Vance Havner, Seasonings, (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1970), 26. Cited by Dennis Hester in Sermon Sparklers: Outlines and Quotes.(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1989), 105 . Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.

14Harold L. Fickett, Jr., “Salvation in a Nutshell” (John 3:1-18), Saturday, April 29.  Guido Gardens Library, John 3, #382.


Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on Amazon.com in hardcover, paperback and eBook]

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Miss-Revival-Spiritual-Awakening/dp/1462735428 &  http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-Giving-Bible/dp/1594577684 / [email protected]   / (251) 626-6210

© February 26, 2017 All Rights Reserved

Posted in


Scroll to Top