Golden Rule

<<guideline for harmonious living>>

This is also termed the ‘Law of Christ’ and the ‘Royal Law’ (Gal 6:2; Jas 2:8).

Jesus said, “Do unto others what you would have them do to you” – this is how we are to treat others and as such is often termed ‘the golden rule’ (Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31).  He expressed it in

How do I like to be treated – do this to others

the positive, actively taking the initiative of ‘doing’, in contrast to refraining or ‘not doing to others what you don’t want done to you’.

This positive action on another’s behalf is what is ultimately best for them. It is not doing for them what they can and should do for themselves though, as this creates lazy, dependent and irresponsible people. It involves courtesy and goodwill (an intention that others will benefit) and is a mark of the righteous (1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pet 3:8).  It is not demanding our rights, rather ensuring we fulfill our responsibilities, especially of ‘being Jesus to those in need’ as we put our self in the other person’s situation, and Jesus who identifies with humanity rewards us as being done unto Him (Mt 25:24-46; Heb 13:3).

“For Christ’s love compels us not to live for ourselves but for Him”. Most times this is outworked in “Loving your neighbour as yourself…Doing what is right in the eyes of everyone” (Mk 12:31; Rom 12:17, 13:8-10; 2 Cor 5:14,15; Gal 5:14; 1 Thes 4:6). A mark of a true Christian is obeying the Christian obligation to love others (Jn 13:35). In fact, Christians cannot claim to love God if they don’t actively love other people as well. “If someone says, ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20). We are accountable both for what we do and fail to do.

Many times hostility or other negative, destructive responses can be prevented by responding in the opposite spirit – such as, “A soft answer turns away anger” (Prov 15:1). To those who

Do I try to live by the ‘Golden rule’ principle?

display wrong emotions and bitterness towards us we extend forgiveness and blessing as Jesus did and taught in Scripture. It is going beyond duty to sacrifice, with Jesus even giving the radical command to love even one’s enemies (Mt 5:40-44; Lk 6:28-30; Rom 12:14; 1 Cor 4:12; 1 Pet 2:23, 3:9). It involves not returning ‘fire with fire’ but showing self-control and the love of Christ in reality. This does not negate but enhances correction, discipline and confrontation when it is needed because the motive is love and putting right any wrong incurred.

This rule of conduct is an incentive to do good works for there is a high possibility that we will receive in like manner as we have given. The power of the sowing and reaping principle is often overlooked, yet “To those who show mercy, they will receive mercy…Forgive and you will be forgiven” in proportion to what you have done is the teaching of Scripture (Mt 5:7; Lk 6:37,38; Gal 6:7-10). Living by focusing on others and displaying the love of Christ should be a way of life. No one is self-contained, we need each other. 

Living by this principle will help prevent criticism, negative emotions and harmful actions while it will uplift, encourage, empower and honour through showing goodwill by being other-focused rather than being self-centered. The parable of the Good Samaritan, shows different responses when confronted with a need (Lk 10:30-35). Empathy is putting yourself in the other person’s place, helping without expecting anything in return except that of knowing we are doing His will.  It is much more than returning favours to those who have ministered to us or can reciprocate.  How do I respond to the needs of those who can’t help themselves?

See also: benevolence, considerate, empathy, good works, hard-hearted, lifestyle, love, needs, opposite spirit, others, reciprocate, sow and reap, tender-hearted.