The Golden Rule

November 20, 2011

  • Rule (Dictionary):  ”A statement of what to do and what not to do, principle governing conduct, action or arrangement, law.”
  • Rule (Bible):  “To rule, have domain, reign, hand, or dominate.”

If you look on the internet it has much to say about the “golden rule”. Actually, I was quite shocked by the amount of information that is available. Of course we all know the way people recall the golden rule: “do unto others as you would have then do unto you.” It also means to love your neighbor as yourself. What does the Bible say?

Matthew 19:19”‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (NKJV) 

Matthew 7:12:  12Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.” (HCSB) 

Mark 12:29-31:  29Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 30AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ 31The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NASB)

As I looked into the “golden rule” on the web, I found golden rule schools, auto sales, schools, barbeques, and realty companies. There is even an “international order” of the golden rule and golden rulers. Currently, people are selling a Golden Rule poster which displays excerpts from 13 of the worlds “sacred” writings. These include Islam to Hinduism and are printed in 5 languages. The goal of the poster is to show that this rule is common everywhere and as such we should think of it as a sort of “unifying” item for all races and all people’s. The entire package is blatantly designed around humanism. They have renamed the golden rule as the “ethic of reciprocity” or “the universal law of one” (re: the Dalai Lama). The concept is to raise all religions to the same level as Christianity by calling their texts “sacred” and by saying we follow the exact same rule or thinking. They also imply there are many ways to reach God based on the fact that so many religions do quote something akin to the golden rule. They quote Jesus in the same breath as Buddha. However, they rely on their own wisdom and their own feelings. Of course, the problem for those arguments is that they fail to realize the real source was from the only true God, not from man:

Leviticus 19:1818You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (NKJV) 

We need to see the context that the Bible used. Whenever Jesus referred to the “golden rule” it was in the context of the Law of Moses. When asked about what a “neighbor” was, Jesus used the example of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was pointing people to mercy and compassion and away from legalism and towards grace. The apostle Paul also referred to the golden rule:

Romans 13:7-9:  7Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor. 8Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment—all are summed up by this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.“ (HCSB)

I guess when we see this exhortation we usually see we are to love our neighbor. However, that is conditional on loving ourselves! So this begs the question of “do we love ourselves”? Many people do not like themselves. This can be because of childhood trauma, their physical appearance or the feeling of poor self worth. Whatever the feeling, they find themselves trapped within a body or a mind they do not like. The Bible gives an answer to this dilemma and it is a focus on how we present ourselves to God.

Romans 6:12-14: 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” (NIV)

Just as God can free us from sin, so He can also free us from how we feel about ourselves. When we look at this Scripture we see the old person is dead and the new person is under grace. We can only see ourselves as an instrument of righteousness if we really love who we are and we have a right heart. There is huge freedom in that knowledge! But, how does God see us?

Genesis 1: 26-27 26Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” 27So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.” (HSCB) 

Psalm 139:14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” (NASB) 

So God sees us made by Him, and in His image. This means we are indeed special and a unique creation within His universe! Not only that, we are made in a way that is wonderful! If we are to overcome our “un-love” of ourselves, we need to see that God loves us and He has fashioned us as we are. And when we ask Jesus into our lives, our old man dies and with it any poor image we have of ourselves. We can, as a new creature, then love who we are! Once we are there we can then truly love our neighbor because love flows out of love.

2 Corinthians 3:18 18We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (HCSB) 

If we see ourselves as growing in Christ and going from glory to glory, it will help us love ourselves more and more because of His love! Lord help us to see the golden rule as a golden opportunity to reach out to lost souls. Thank you for who I am in Christ!


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