What does it mean “do unto others?” Is there application for the Christian?
We find the phrase “do unto others” in Luke 6:31 which says “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Jesus said this in the context of loving our enemies and doing good to those that hate us (Luke 6:27) but also to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). Now it gets a bit harder, doesn’t it? While Jesus is still speaking about our enemies, He goes even further by saying “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back” (Luke 6:29-30). His conclusion is “as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31). This means doing good unto others, regardless of whether they do good to us. This “doing unto others” is not dependent on if they do unto us first.
Doing to Others
Jesus continues in His teaching in Luke chapter six by giving us the reason we are to do good unto others. He says “If you love those who love you, what benefit 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 benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount” (Luke 6:32-34). If we only do go to those we love, we are no different from the unsaved world but if you “love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36). Don’t you want to be like the “sons (and daughters) of the Most High?” The poor cannot repay you but God can. Solomon wrote “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed” (Prov 19:17).
Giving to Others
We have at least three things that we can share that God has blessed us with. They are time, talent, and treasure and we are stewards of these three. We will all have to give an account on what we did with what we received. Jesus tells us to “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back” (Luke 6:30) “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12). Whatever we do for others is what the Law was founded upon and that which the prophets preached on and of course, the greatest Giver of all was Jesus Christ Who gave His life for us (John 3:16). He did it expecting nothing in return for it. He made the first move; His grace extended to us. We are obligated to give back to others.
We don’t do unto others simply for rewards. We do good unto others because Jesus commands us to. Even so, Jesus still says “whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” (Matt 10:42) so just “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:4). Of course the greatest reward of all comes at Christ’s appearing when “the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matt 25:34).
We should feel compelled to help others because of what Christ has done for us. We can never do what Jesus did for us but we can do for others. Even if they don’t “do unto you,” you do unto them all the good you can, whether they’re a believer or not. Jesus never made this statement conditional upon who it is conferred upon. We are simply told to do it.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.