We’ve all heard the words used in one context or another. They are simple words, yet carry a complex message. They are words that can change the culture of a company or a neighborhood, words that can tear down relational barriers and create new opportunities for communication. The words are one simple sentence spoken by Jesus, “In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you.” (Matthew 7: 12)
These words, the Golden Rule, are life changing on several different levels.
Life changing because it is a call to action. History had heard similar thoughts before Jesus. Confucius said, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” Even a well-known rabbi, Hillel, had given thought to this by saying, ““What is hateful to you, do not do to anyone else. This is the whole law; all the rest is only commentary.” These thoughts were all stated in the negative. All a person had to do to accomplish the negative form of this thought was to do nothing: “I will not harm others”. A person could remain passive and keep this command. Jesus wasn’t satisfied with passivity, he wanted action. His thought was positive, “You go do!”
Life changing because it forces me to keep my eyes open for others, instead of looking out for self. I’m pretty good at taking care of myself. This command makes me look for ways I treat others like I would want to be treated (and then go do it). Living this command will change me.
Life changing since it affects every relationship that I have, from the intimate to the casual. Actively looking for ways to treat others the way I want to be treated will turn every encounter into an opportunity to do.
Simple words, yet holding profound possibility. Simple words, yet so difficult to practice. I love listening to Jesus talk, I think he’d be most pleased as I put it into action.