Follow the Golden Rule

Christian's duty to his neighbour," and "a fundamental ethical principle." So popular has it become that it is often called the Golden Rule.

Follow the Golden Rule
"All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must 
likewise do to them." -- Matthew 7:12

Those were the words spoken by Jesus two thousand years ago in his remarkable Sermon on the Mount. Many centuries after this popular statement was made by our Lord Jesus Christ, much has been said and written about the simple admonition. Among other things, it has been extolled as "the very essence of Scripture," "a summary of the Christian's duty to his neighbour," and "a fundamental ethical principle." So popular has it become that it is often called the Golden Rule.

The concept of the Golden Rule, however, is by no means restricted to the Christian world. Judaism, Buddhism, and Greek philosophy also expounded this ethical rule in various ways. Perhaps the most remarkable is a statement by Confucius, who is venerated among the Southeast Asians as the greatest sage and teacher. In the Analects, one of the four books devoted to the teachings of Confucius, the thought was expressed three times. He stated: "What you do not want done to you, do not do to others."

The Golden Rule stated by Jesus requires positive actions of doing good to others. If people were to act according to Jesus' positive statement daily by caring about others and taking steps to help them, don't you think that would make our world a better place? Undoubtedly.

Although the rule is stated in different ways, what is significant is that people in different times and places, with diverse backgrounds and cultures, have believed strongly in the idea of the Golden Rule. This reveals that Jesus' teaching on the Mount is a universal teaching that deeply resonates with people everywhere in every age.

It is important that we ask ourselves these pertinent questions: 'Would I like to be treated with respect, fairness and honesty?' 'Would I like to live in a world without racial prejudice, crime and war?' 'Would I like to be in a family in which everyone showed concern for the feelings and welfare of others?' No one would say no to such possibilities. However, the reality is that very few enjoy these conditions. Most people do not even believe such possibilities are attainable here on earth.

Man's Selfishness Tarnished the Golden Rule
There have been occurrences of crimes against humanity throughout history. Oppressors have trampled on the rights of ordinary people. These include the slave trade out of Africa, the killing of Jews and others in Nazi death camps, forced child labour, and horrible genocides in different parts of the world, and so on.

Today, our world is technologically oriented and rife with selfishness. Few people think of others when their own convenience and comfort are at stake (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Why have so many become self-centred, wicked and unfeeling? Is it not because the Golden Rule is being ignored and brushed aside as unrealistic, a moral relic? It is disheartening to note that this is the case even among those who claim to believe in God.

Therefore, the vital questions that must be considered are: What does living by the Golden Rule entail? Does anyone still live by it?

The Golden Rule Is Practical
While most people view the Golden Rule as a moral teaching by Jesus, he himself stated: "What I teach is not mine, but belong to him that sent me." -- John 7:16.

The originator of what Jesus taught, including what was later known as the Golden Rule, is the one who sent Jesus, God Almighty. God's original purpose was that all of mankind treat one another as they would like to be treated. God set the best example in expressing care for the wellbeing of others in the way he created humans: "God proceeded to create man in his image, in God's image he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27). This shows our loving God endowed us with a measure of his own outstanding qualities so that we could enjoy life in peace, happiness, and harmony--forever. God also bestowed on humans conscience, which, when properly trained, would guide them to treat others the way they themselves would want to be treated.

Jesus Christ, the epitome of all that God is, not only taught the Golden Rule, but also set the finest example in following it. He genuinely cared for the welfare of others (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; Luke 5:12, 13). Once, near the city of Nain, Jesus saw a woman who was heartbroken due to the loss of her only son.The Bible account says: "When the Lord caught sight of her, he was moved with pity for her." (Luke 7:11-15) Jesus felt her pain, and it moved him to take positive steps to relieve her pain. What joy it brought that widow when Jesus resurrected the boy and "gave him to his mother"!
Also, Jesus willingly suffered and gave his life as a ransom so that mankind could be freed from slavery under sin and death. This represents the ultimate example of living by the Golden Rule. --Matthew 20:28; John 15:13; Hebrews 4:15.

What About You
No man on earth can be as selfless as Jesus Christ who did not hesitate to give his life to atone for the sins of many. But, in our own way, we can apply the Golden Rule in all that we do. Let us be mindful of how we treat others and constantly ask ourselves when we are in situations that tempt us to compromise our principles: What would Jesus do?

Acts of kindness not only please the recipients, they also please the instigators. The Bible says that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. In the family setting, the husband should treat his wife with love and honour, just as Jesus treats the church which he presides over.
Everyone likes to be treated with dignity and respect. We appreciate it when our thoughts are acknowledged and our feelings are taken into account. We must therefore endeavour to treat people the way we would like to be treated, and not repay unkindness with unkindness. We should put in our relationships what we intend to get out of them and be sensitive to other people's feelings in order to treat them right.

As beacons of light and hope in these last days, Jesus' teachings ought to reflect in our daily activities. These days many people lack compassion. Many are cruel, love violence, and have no love for their neighbours (2 Timothy 3:1-3). As followers of Christ, we must display compassion, love and kindness, as these are the qualities that identify us as true believers (Isaiah 56; 1, 2). 
If we follow the Bible's counsel, we will always love our neighbours as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). We must love all people, no matter where they come from or what their culture is. Whenever it is difficult to show love to our neighbours, we can pray to God for his holy spirit (Romans 8: 26, 27).

If we love God and our neighbours, we are obeying the two greatest commandments which say: "Love the Lord your God with your whole heart and soul" and "Love your neighbour as yourself."

By: Olaide Ekunsumi

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Arinola O. Yinka

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