The Beautiful Power of the Golden Rule

The Beautiful Power of the Golden Rule July 11, 2022

It is no doubt one of the most famous teachings of Jesus Christ.

Help, Hand, Offer, Despair, Depression, Charity, Trust

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Christians know it.

Children know it.

Other religions know it.

Agnostics know it.

Atheists know it.

It is the so-called “Golden Rule,” a short, sweet, and simple view of how to live and act that really encompasses everything that we need to know about following Jesus:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Mt 7.12)

And there it is.

Other religions and philosophies have variations on the same theme.

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour: this is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary.” (Judaism)

“None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” (Islam)

“One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self.” (Hinduism)

“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Buddhism)

“What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.” (Confucianism)

“Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” (Taoism)

So the idea is not entirely unique to Christianity.

Jesus does add a new wrinkle, similar to the line from the Jewish Talmud listed above, which makes sense, since that would have been part of the Jewish faith that Jesus was a part of.

The new wrinkle is this: “…for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

“The Law and the Prophets” is a term Jesus uses in the Gospels to mean the Old Testament Scriptures, which was the only Bible that the people of God had at the time.

The Golden Rule – to treat others the way that I would wish to be treated – is brief and easy to understand, and Jesus says that this simple commandment sums up the entire Bible that they had at the time.

Everything that God wants from us in how we live our lives is summed up here.

If we can get the Golden Rule right, we are getting everything else right.

This would seem to make it both very easy, and very hard, to please God.

Because it’s actually a really challenging rule to obey.

We often treat people negatively, in ways that we don’t like when others do it to us.

We gossip, we slander, we attack, we judge, we look down upon, we withhold.

We wound with words, we wound with action, we wound with silence.

And on the other side, we often don’t do the good that we would like for ourselves.

We don’t encourage, we don’t give generously, we don’t support, we don’t give grace, we don’t forgive, we don’t love well.

So the Golden Rule can become a regular gut-check, soul-search, indicator light on how we are doing at living rightly before the Lord.

“The way I am treating this person – is that what I would want for myself?”

“What am I doing/not doing to this person that is the opposite of how I would wish to be treated?”

“If I were in their shoes right now, what would I want done for me?”

“All the good that I would like for myself – am I giving that away to this person?”

As challenging as it is, it actually simplifies so much of life.

To “love my neighbour as myself” (Mt 22.39) takes all that God wants of me and makes it very easy to check and see how I am doing, and very easy to decide how I will respond and act towards others.

The Golden Rule is so simple, so well-known, so obvious in some ways, that it is very easy to actually overlook it and miss it.

But we are to come back to it again and again, in every interaction, in every motivation, in every word, in every relationship.

How well am I fulfilling the commandment of Christ here?

And what might I do to fulfill it better?

And the answer to the second question is as simple as the commandment is:

How would I want to be treated?

And then we go on from there.


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