Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. – Matthew 7:12
Treat others the way you’d want to be treated. The “golden rule” came from Jesus first, and this is a good rule to live by. Although it seems simple enough on the surface, living this out can be challenging.
Instead of treating others the way we’d want to be treated, we often treat others the way they treat us. When someone treats us good, we treat them good. When someone treats us badly, we feel justified in doing the same to them.
It’s easy to love people who are easy to love, but it is often those who are difficult to love who need us to love them the most. That’s not really the topic here.
How do we treat others the same way that we’d want to be treated?
There are some variations depending on our personalities and preferences, but we have enough in common to know how to deal with people in a general sense.
People generally like to be dealt with honestly. People generally appreciate kindness, compassion, and understanding. People generally appreciate having a helping hand in times of trouble or need. People generally like to have people around them who will protect their name, not gossip about them or slander them. People generally like to be appreciated for the things they do that make life a little better for others. People generally like to feel welcomed, encouraged, and supported.
Sometimes we are just too self-centered to think about other people like we should. Sometimes we are too caught up in our defenses to think about other people like we should. Sometimes we are too full of pride or a desire for vengeance to think about other people like we should.
If we seek Jesus in these things, He can show us our selfishness, fears, pride, and vengefulness. Other things get in the way too, like envy and greed. Basically, all the downfalls of human nature get in the way of treating people the way we’d like to be treated—so this simple command becomes very hard for us to do in many instances.
In a society that encourages selfishness and pride as it breeds fear and glorifies vengeance and indignation in the name of justice-so-called, we need to hold this teaching dear to our hearts. In a society that is greedy, envious, covetous, and full of deceit that calls evil good and good evil, we need to hold this teaching dear to our hearts.
If we treat people the way we’d want to be treated, even when it is hard, we might convert some to Jesus and strengthen those who already carry His Name.
Sometimes we don’t know how to deal with a situation. Maybe we need time away to pray and reflect, or maybe there is some sin in our heart that we don’t want to face and deal with. Some situations are complicated, but if we aim to keep to the “golden rule,” Jesus can help us grow in this, and the more we practice treating others the way we’d want to be treated, the more natural it will become. Even when it is hard.
How does this saying fulfill all the law and the prophets?
Elsewhere Jesus says that the great commandment is to love God with all your mind, heart, and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself.
What if your neighbor is doing something very destructive to self or others and they do not want to do any different? What if you were in such a state? What is the loving thing to do if someone is headed to their doom and adamantly so? When God sees us in such a state, He will do whatever He must to get our attention.
I suppose, if we don’t want to be helped, we should expect to be left to our own devises. There is a time for that too. The more our world seems to love wickedness and despise any help, correction, or leading in the right way, it seems more complicated. Yet, I’m certain that there are enough every-day scenarios that we can deal with and strive to do better in. “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.”
This article is part of a series that considers the Parables of Jesus. Right now, we are looking at the statements Jesus made during His Sermon on the Mount, to which He referenced in His Parable of the Building on Rock and Sand. Visit the link for quick access to all articles written within this series.
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