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September 21, 2005

Today’s Lesson (3)
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:46 AM * 13 comments

Matthew 7:12-29

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Comments on Today's Lesson (3):
#1 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 09:44 AM:

What does it say that I'm having a hard time coming up with a response that's not throwing stones?

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 10:01 AM:

Dunno.

To me, this means that if the end results of your policy is war, death, poverty, hunger ... that it doesn't matter how many days a week you go to Bible Study.

#3 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 10:12 AM:

My brother told how a boy in his class in school was called upon to tell the story of the Good Samaritan, and related it as follows:

"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he met God in the road, and God took him by the throat and said 'Pay what thou owest!'"

...which maybe isn't a great lesson but it makes a nice image, depending on who you picture as the man.

#4 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 10:21 AM:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

This reminds me of one of my favorite stories from the Talmud:

A certain heathen came to Shammai and said to him: "If you can teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot you can convert me to Judaism." Shammai drove him away with a builder's cubit [a stick] which was in his hand. He went to Hillel and Hillel said to him, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary: go, study."
In times of such divisiveness, nice to notice our commonalities.

I just noticed Wikipedia has an entire page of different formulations of the 'Golden Rule' from different religious, ethical, and cultural backgrounds.

#5 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 10:22 AM:

I don't have Jesus' apparent confidence in the intersection of morality and causality, especially as a good tree can bring forth evil fruit (as a relative seldom fails to remind me) unless conditions are right, and that can change for the better with time, unless that tree be cast into the fire first.

In a practical sense, I agree with him, since I think it best to judge people only by the fruits of their actions, although I factor in their intentions if I'm biased toward them by blood or affection.

#6 ::: Fernmonkey ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 11:11 AM:

I just noticed Wikipedia has an entire page of different formulations of the 'Golden Rule' from different religious, ethical, and cultural backgrounds.

They missed the KITH one:

"Do unto others as they do unto you.
That includes you, young Timothy Foo."

#7 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 11:25 AM:

The rest is commentary: go, study.

That there is what I love best about that story. He says what's essential about the Torah, but he doesn't suggest that the rest is unimportant - he tells him to study it too.

#8 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 01:38 PM:

I far prefer the formulation given by Hillel, to the one in the Gospels.

The positive exhortation (which is almost always taught as a negative) is very hard to live with.

I would love for someone rich to give me half their money, but if I do the same for the homeless guys in SLO, well they won't end up off the street, and I am likely to end up on it.

Now, I know that I can give of what I have, and hope the rich do the same, but if I don't scorn the poor, nor refuse to help them, I am not suffering from a dichotomy between what I would like others to do for me, and what I can do for others.

TK

#9 ::: Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 04:29 PM:

I prefer Jesus's version to Hillel's because it requires doing (it's also why I prefer James to Paul). Hillel's version lets people go into their gated communities and think they're not doing any harm because they can't see over their walls.

#10 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 04:57 PM:

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

the false prophet is then a form of chimera with the clothes of a sheep, the body of a wolf, and the stomach of a raven.

#11 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2005, 05:31 PM:

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. ...

"Lord, Lord, have we not... in thy name done many wonderful works?
"And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

This second idea, on a somewhat cursory reading, seems to wash the foundation out from under the Golden Rule. It promises hell to people Jesus doesn't "know". Even faith-healers? Pastors and priests? Missionaries? Monks?

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

Seems to me the new covenant is about how the Golden Rule is incomplete and inadequate to do the will of the Father.

#12 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2005, 05:03 PM:

Dan Lewis:

No, I don't read it that way at all. When you look at the other comments, about how not doing to/for people in need, are the things which cause one to be now known, then I think the Golden Rule is the key.

Love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with thy God is the teaching of Micah. Follow the commandements, and love thy neighbor as thyself is the commandment teaching Jesus. If you need to do more, then one should give up wealth to the poor, which is just an extreme of loving one's neighbors.

#13 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2005, 11:09 AM:

Dan, the people I grew up around would make the same protest. "Have we not built glorious churches in Your honor? Have we not defended Your righteous Church from the heathen? Have we not defended the sanctity of marriage?"

Wonderful works, all of them, by their lights.

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