Did you know that the Golden Rule comes from the teachings of Jesus Christ? Even a lot of Christians might not know that. But it does.
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
This principle is common to almost all cultures and societies. Before Jesus made this statement, it usually was in a passive form — “Don’t do anything to someone else that you don’t want them to do to you.” Notice how Jesus changes it into an active statement.
Instead of trying not to do something, He tells us to proactively treat people in the same way you want them to treat you. Sounds easy enough right?
How do you want others to treat you? With respect? Understanding? Kindness? Compassion? Patience? I am sure the list is long. It is for me!
But is it easy to treat others with respect, understanding, kindness, compassion, patience, etc.? If I am honest about the way I treat others, I am more than a little embarrassed. Just this past Sunday afternoon I was impatient on the phone with an insurance claims adjuster. And I am the worst with my wife, whom I love more than anyone else on earth.
So how do we live by the Golden Rule? Here are some of my thoughts on how:
- Consider How You View Yourself. Sounds simple. Are you worthy of respect, understanding, kindness, etc.? I say that you are. Sadly, many people do not think of themselves as worthy of this kind of treatment. Makes it kind of hard to treat others in this way when we don’t expect it in return.
- Try Walking in Their Shoes. That poor claims adjuster was new to his job. I am sure that he was trying to do a good, thorough job. I know that you have met difficult people before. Try finding out what is going on under the surface. Almost always there is a story that explains the action.
- Live in Community. What better way to give us ample opportunities to proactively practice the Golden Rule than living in community? By living in community, I mean developing close relationships with people not necessarily part of your biological family as if they were part of your family. It is hardest to treat those closest to us by this principle. Once we get past all the pleasantries, we begin to see the rough edges that we all have.
- Forgive. If others have offended us, it is hard to treat them by the Golden Rule unless we forgive them. Wait. I should forgive them if I want them to forgive me!
- Keep it to Yourself. Check your motivation for living by the Golden Rule. Is it so others will recognize you as a generous, kind person? Live by the Golden Rule because it is the best way to live and for no other reason.
- Let Each Day Take Care of Itself. Don’t keep record of every time that you treat others like you want them to treat you. In other words, don’t worry about what you will get out of it. If you live by this principle, God promises that you will receive what is due.
- Ask God to Help You. Instead of striving to live by the Golden Rule by your own ability, allow God’s Spirit to do this in you. Jesus Christ embodies every good and pure attribute and motive. If you are a Christian, then rest in Him. If you are not a Christian, do you know that God promises the gift of His Holy Spirit to live in you and to guide you? He gives us the fruit of His Spirit, which is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Think how our communities would look different if we all applied this ageless principle. Look at the fruit of the Spirit again in point number 7. There is no law against any of these.
Question for you: What other ways can you think of that we can live by the Golden Rule?