The Golden Rule

Matthew 7: 12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

I was reading through Matthew 7 the other night and was struck anew by the Golden Rule. I have heard it so much throughout my life that it seems worn out compared to some of the new, provocative things I hear among Christian bloggers and modern affluent preachers. But this time when I read it, I was struck by the phrase at the end–“for this is the law and the prophets.” This reflects on the greatest command as well–where all the law and the prophets hang on the foundation of loving God and loving others. This connection made me realize that in some ways, the Golden Rule is a great summary statement of what it means to love others. While we get a very specific definition of love in I Cor. 13, love could be summed up, “treat others the way you want to be treated.”

In particular, I’ve been meditating for some time about Biblical love in conflict. The Golden Rule gives me an interesting perspective to consider. When in conflict, if I want to fulfill the law–loving my neighbor as myself–then a great summary question to ask myself is “how would I want to be treated if I were the other person?” Most of the time in conflict, we are so self-righteous and self-absorbed, the last thing we consider is how we would want to be treated in a similar situation.

Think about the last time you were genuinely wrong about something. (And if you are having a hard time thinking of that time, I hope that sets off a serious red flag in your heart. ) Now think about what led you to recognize your sin. How did Jesus draw you to repentance? Was someone else involved? What about their response was helpful in seeing your sin? What about their response created a stumblingblock to you? From there, we can start to get a picture of what confrontation and restoration looks like when it is governed by the Golden Rule and Greatest Command. And I humbly submit that any confrontation that is not governed by the Golden Rule and Greatest Command is likely motivated by pride and selfishness.

Right now, the 2 people in the world that I confront most often are my small boys. I want to get this right with them.

Father, there are a lot of people in sin in this world, and I am chief among them. Teach me how to minister grace to others that they would see both their sin and the contrasting beauty of Your holiness. May Your grace flow through me that I could draw them to repent and not put a stumblingblock in front of them instead.

2 Responses to The Golden Rule

  1. Wenatchee the Hatchet September 25, 2008 at 5:39 am #

    What I have found helpful is to consider that as image-bearers of Christ, our honor and dignity derive from being image-bearers and not from what we are easily tempted to consider either inherent or acquired virtues. You can’t defend your own honor or dignity without abrogating it because at that point you are defending YOUR honor and dignity rather than considering Christ, whose generosity confers dignity both on ourselves and our enemies whomever we may consider them to be. It’s tough, but I suppose that may be part of what it means to take up your cross, and the Lord can give us the strength and courage to take it up.

  2. Linda September 25, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    When I was a child my mother quoted this scripture to me daily. She was not a believer at the time but she knew this verse well. The one thing she did not add to it for me was – no matter how “they” treat you back. I grew up thinking if I was “nice” then people would respond in kind. Now older and with more understanding of Christ I understand that it is not a manipulative action but should stem from my love of Christ and living the example of Christ. Thank you Wendy for insight.