So in everything do to others, what you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets
(Matthew 7:12 NIV).
What does “do unto others” mean? The Golden Rule is familiar but surprisingly misunderstood.
THE GOLDEN RULE IN OTHER FAITHS
Before we look at the Golden Rule from a Christian perspective, I want to look at the practice and philosophy of this teaching in other belief systems. It is surprisingly different from what Jesus advocates – or maybe it’s not so surprising.
Islam’s version is thought-provoking: it says desire for your brother what you desire for self. Does this mean the golden rule applies only to other Muslims? Assuredly Jesus included all people when instructing us to ‘do to others.’
Some religions state this rule in the negative. For instance, the premise of the golden rule in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism is NOT to hurt or harm, conversely, Jesus asserts DO to others. This is noteworthy; after all not taking action is easier than reaching out to another and treating them kindly or mercifully.
Interestingly, Judaism also states this rule in the negative, however, as in Christianity it upholds the Golden Rule as the sum of all the other laws, Judaism states it like this: “Everything else is commentary”
WHAT DOES ‘DO TO OTHERS’ MEAN?
I will answer this question with a childhood lesson of my own. A friend spoke unkind words about me to others. Hurt and angry, I plotted revenge, which prompted my wise Christian mother to intervene with a lesson on the Golden Rule. Ordinarily, this type of rebuke stopped me in my tracks, but not today. Instead, I answered, “she said mean things so she wants to be treated that way.” Sound logic there and, undoubtedly, Mom wanted to laugh.
As a mother and grandmother, I’m certain Mom was angry at my ‘friend’ too, but she patiently explained the real meaning of Jesus’ words: forgiveness, kindness, and allowing a just and perfect God to decide about vengeance. (Matthew 5:38—39; Romans 12:19)
Sadly, I don’t always follow this advice, but Mom’s teachings make me pause and think – even into my golden years. Is 63 golden or silver? Anyway, you get my drift.
PRACTICING ‘DO TO OTHERS’ CHRISTIAN STYLE
So how to practice the Golden Rule? To their embarrassment, the Pharisees learned the answer to this question when attempting to trick Jesus. Bringing an adulteress to the public square they asked, “So, Jesus, do we obey the Law of Moses and stone her?” No matter the answer, Jesus was in trouble. Moses’ law said to stone adulterers, but the civil law forbade Jews to execute a person. (John 8: 1—11)
Jesus’ answer was something like, “Sure, let’s obey the law of Moses; however, before we get started, I was wondering, any of you ever fallen short of the law? Perhaps we can exact the proper punishment for everyone present. Consequently, not one person cast a stone.
As everyone fled, I imagine Jesus looking at the woman with a huge grin. “Gee, all your accusers left.” Understanding the irony, I picture her returning an appreciative and relieved smile.
Jesus forgave her with an admonition to sin no more.
When Jesus instructed us to treat others as we want to be treated, he wasn’t just saying be nice to people. Forgiveness is a major part of ‘do to others.’ After all, we are forgiven, so we must forgive others.
THE PART OF THE GOLDEN RULE WE IGNORE
FOR THIS SUMS UP THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS.
What exactly does Jesus mean? Does this proclamation sum up our faith in one statement? Practicing the Golden Rule properly demonstrates our obedience to the law and an acknowledgment of the prophetic truths in God’s word. It’s just like Jesus to speak profoundly, but make it simple.
If we want:
forgiven – forgive
kindness – be kind
rescued – rescue others
patience – be patient
prayer – pray for others
While we think simple is easy, that is not necessarily true when it comes to the Golden Rule. It is difficult to treat others as we want to be treated. However, when we ignore the Golden Rule we are disregarding the tenets of our faith.
Feeling convicted? I am.
THOUGHT OR ACTION FOR THE WEEK
Do an experiment this week. When you respond to another person or react to circumstances, ask, “Do I want to be treated this way?” Surprisingly, way too often, my answer is NO. Scary stuff.
As we meditate this week, let us all ask God to open our eyes and heart to fully understand the Golden Rule and how to apply it to our daily lives.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN THE GOLDEN RULE
Read the story of Zacchaeus together and fill
As always, insights or comments are welcome. Also, please share this blog with others on Facebook or other social media platforms.
Blessings, until next time.