by Erin Bird
I’m pretty sure you have heard the Golden Rule: “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” But if you think about it, that could be potentially selfish. “Hey, I’d really like someone to give me a present, so I’ll give some else a present so that they get the idea!”
In the Gospel Prayer found in J.D. Greear’s 2011 book Gospel, the sentiment isn’t “do unto others what you want them to do for you.” Rather it is “do unto others what God has done for you.” Here is how J.D. puts it (with slight “massaging” by me):
The Gospel Prayer
“Heavenly Father, in Christ, I know there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less. Help me realize Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy. Just as you have been to me, so I will be to others. And Heavenly Father, as I pray, help me measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.”
We’ve already looked at the first two sentences in this short series on The Gospel Prayer (here is sentence #1 and here is sentence #2). So let’s take a few moments together to consider that third thought: “As you have been to me, so I will be to others.”
Because we are looking at the Gospel Prayer, we need to take a quick second to remind ourselves of what is the gospel. At Riverwood, our definition of the gospel is…
“The ongoing story of God redeeming broken and imperfect people and restoring them into the perfect and complete image of Jesus.”
The tools God uses to accomplish this spiritual redemption and restoration of people are the cross and empty tomb of Christ. As we look at the cross, we see God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, justice, kindness, and so much more. Yet as we look at the empty tomb, we see God’s power, presence, sovereignty, faithfulness, and more.
But here’s the kicker: These attributes of God seen through the Gospel aren’t to just stop at changing our lives. Over and over in the Scripture, God instructs us to take the attributes He has shown us through the cross and empty grave, and display them towards others, changing their lives in the process.
- just as God has given us forgiveness, we are to forgive others. (Ephesians 4:32)
- just as God has shown us love, we are to love one another. (1 John 4:7-12)
- just as God put your needs first, put the needs of others before your own. (Philippians 2:4-7)
- just as God showed us great mercy, we need to be merciful toward others. (Luke 6:36)
- just as God generously gave Jesus for us, we need to be generous toward others as well. (2 Corinthians 9:13-15)
But why pray this?
So it’s clear the Bible instructs us to do toward others what God has done toward us through Christ, but why do we need to pray it? Aren’t these just actions we need to do?
Perhaps you are holier than I am, but I am a selfish person. If left to my own ways, I will often try to carve time to give to myself. But the gospel does not teach that God changed me so I could be absorbed in “me” more. The gospel says God is transforming me to be more like Jesus.
So I need to pray not to tell God something He doesn’t already know, but to invite God to remind me of what the Gospel leads me to do. Praying “Just as You have been to me, help me be to others,” invites God to continue to transform you into the likeness of His Son, to love like Jesus loved and live like Jesus lived.
So I invite you to join me in asking God to help us do unto others what He has done for us through Christ.