So many things in our world are taken directly from the Bible… and sadly, many people don’t even recognize it. What we’ve come to call the “Golden Rule” originally came straight from Jesus’ mouth.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Modern translation: treat other people the way you want other people to treat you. And let’s not kid ourselves… every one of us wants to be treated well by other people. Kind, considerate treatment tells us we are loved, that we matter, that the other person values us.
I just read through Matthew 7 (where the passage is found), pondering each phrase. When I came upon this particular statement, my tendency was to kind of “breeze by” it, because I’ve heard it so many times before. But something in me caught, and wouldn’t let me move ahead. There is importance here. There is power here. I had to linger.
The Golden Rule is a short, powerful statement of what it means to love people. Leave it to Jesus (and only Jesus) to be able to make this kind of statement. It’s a mantra that informs every conversation, every situation, every decision… if I will let it. There are so many applications…
- Would I have let those short words slip out if I were mindful of the Golden Rule?
- Would I have said things in the WAY that I did, if I were mindful of the Golden Rule?
- Would I have made the same decision if I were mindful of the Golden Rule?
And while all of those are very valid ways of looking at the passage, I have to stop and remember that it’s in my nature to make it into a “new law” if I’m not careful. I like guidelines, rules, principles, etc. I like to have something clear and concrete that I can look at, compare my actions to, and hopefully feel good about myself as a result. But that’s not the purpose of the Golden Rule.
Jesus’ purpose in saying this (and the entire sermon on the mount – Matthew 5-7), is to show us how incapable we are of doing the things that are required to please God. None of us is able to live by the Golden Rule consistently. How do I know? Because none of us do. If we could, we would.
It’s not that Jesus is a kill-joy, or the ultimate cosmic criticizer – no, He’s loving us enough to show us the reality of our need… and we need Him if we are to have any hope of being who we are to be, and who we are to become.
I need Jesus before I need to follow the Golden Rule. You do too.