When my mother was a child, her school reader contained it. Calligraphy versions were hung on the wall or stitched into needlepoint cushions. It was highly regarded as a good philosophy for life. Today, many people don’t even know what the “Golden Rule” says.
(In case you are one of them, it is found in Luke 6:31: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”)
What happened to the Golden Rule? Is it too impractical? Or simply unattainable? Is it only for grandmothers? Or religious martyrs? Have all the wall plaques and old readers been stuffed in a closet or sold at garage sales because this philosophy has gone out with the horse and buggy?
Sadly, many people are not even aware of a golden rule or even that there is any other way of life besides looking out for number one. The rule today is more like; “Do unto others before they do it first.”
“Me first” is not a new wave of philosophy. An excessive concern for self has rolled through history like the surf, rising with threatening high tides and receding as they ebb, but always there. Unfortunately, just like the sea shapes the coastline, a self‑centered focus shapes eternal destiny.
The golden rule is really God’s command to love others. But His definition of live is not quite the same as ours... we “love” those who make us feel good but He says love “never seeks its own way.” We look out for ourselves; He says love concerns itself with the well‑being of others. We “love” those who love us; He says “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you...” In fact, God’s love is so different than ours that a new Greek word had to be invented for it; “agape”.
It is not that we don’t try to love others, it is just that we fail to love like God does: everyone, unconditionally and sacrificially. It is not in us. We fall short of His glory and we need new life from Him to love as He commands. “Anyone who does not love (agape) remains in death.”
This self sacrificial, Godlike love is possible when a person has in their heart the life of the only perfect lover. When we believe in Jesus Christ, that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, we receive His life and His love. He comes in to push aside our human, me first attitude and replaces it with His agape love.
When approached with this gospel, many people think quickly to the Ten Commandments (another bygone favorite wall hanging) and respond by saying, “But I am okay, I have never murdered anyone!” They fail to realize that God says, “Anyone who hates (fails to love) his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”
The Golden Rule is a “nice” verse. It looks good hanging on the wall. But Christ expects His followers to do more than hang what we believe from a hook. He said, “Love one another as I have loved you, and the world will know that you are my disciples... they will know that the Father sent me.”
Jesus Christ did come, He did die, He does give new life; life that supernaturally plucks His people out of the ocean of self‑centeredness that threatens to drown us all, and place us firmly on the Rock. From there we can be a channel of His love, even to those who throw His Golden Rule in a trash can.