The Heart of the Golden Rule


In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus summarizes the entirety of the Law and the prophets with what is known as the golden rule: “do to others as you would have them do to you.” This is even more simple and straightforward than another of Jesus’ pithy teachings about the greatest commandment being summed up in “loving God and loving our neighbor.” The golden rule calls us more clearly into action, while also urging us to switch our perspective in a more tangible way. The question, “Am I loving so-and-so as myself?”, becomes the much more measurable question, “Am I doing toward so-and-so what I wish so-and-so was doing to me?”

This immediately forces us to confront many issues which otherwise could be avoided. Not only are we to think, “Should I tip the server generously because I’d like to be generously tipped,” but, “If that’s what I desire under God’s guidance, then that is what I should do with God’s power.”

Consideration is limited to what we want or desire, but not to whether we should or should not put that want or desire into action. The golden rule pushes us into the territory of our hearts. It is not just what should we do, but who are we and what does that say about what we want and what we will actually do.

If I do not treat others the way I wish to be treated, then why?  Because human barriers within me stand in the way of love’s action. Because I do not see others as human in the same sense that I see myself as human. Because my love for them is too weak. The answers are as various as the human heart is various, but all of them lead us into a deep encounter with ourselves and our hearts that ultimately leads us to God and his heart.

Lord, help me to love others like You do and to love in action even as I desire for myself to be loved in action. Transform my heart, bring order to my desires, and shape me to reflect You in this world.

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