12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (NIV)
To follow the Golden Rule, a switch must be made at the core of our existence so that rather than prioritizing ourselves, we begin prioritizing others. This is not easy.
It is hard to follow the Golden Rule because of the sinful nature. Anyone can reciprocate niceness. The Bible says this much. But once someone treats us as less than we desire, then without even thinking about it, we feel justified in retaliating. Of course, we all retaliate to differing degrees. Yet, every person when mistreated will feel the need for retaliation in their bones. The more Christlike we become, the urge diminishes. But this is the basis of sinful nature.
It is hard to follow the Golden Rule because of pain from the past. People do not treat us the way we believe they should because they do not feel they were treated as they should have been. Not necessarily do they feel mistreated by us. They may feel mistreated by others in their past. But we may trigger feelings of abuse, neglect, or unfair treatment. In addition to personal experience, this phenomenon is embedded into our society such as racism, classism, and even ageism. This creates a social imaginary that expects to be mistreated fueling self-protection, the opposite of putting others first.
Still another issue that impedes us from following the Golden Rule is our inability to forgive. Because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, everyone mistreats someone at some point. And all of us have been mistreated. Forgiveness releases hurt that we otherwise hold on to. When there is no forgiveness for someone, the hurt they inflicted subconsciously informs us to be self-protective so no one else can hurt us.
Following the Golden Rule requires a relationship with Christ to receive power for healing, to forgive others, and to discipline ourselves to do what is right. Following the Golden Rule would change the world for good, but to follow the Golden Rule, Jesus is essential. As long as the world rejects Christ, humanity will never live by the Golden Rule.
Prayer: Lord, let me be reminded that all goodness comes from You. Remind me I need You when I struggle to follow the Golden Rule. And remind me that others who struggle to follow the Golden Rule also need Jesus. Amen.