The Golden Rule
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)
We call it the Golden Rule. Jesus calls it the culmination of the entire Old Testament law and prophetic writings.
If this sums up everything in the law and the prophets, we might ask then why did God give us the entirety of Scripture. Why couldn’t it just be said to do unto others as we would have them do to us and be done with it?
The Old Testament and the laws were necessary not because it is a difficult concept to understand but the reasons that we struggle are complex and beyond our understanding. We need the Old Testament to identify the dysfunction in us that keeps us from living this Golden rule.
The key here is not to treat others as we treat ourselves but as we would want to be treated. There is clearly a difference. Most of us do treat others as we do ourselves though most people won’t be able to see this. For example, if we are harsh and critical with ourselves, more than likely we do the same to others. We may do it quietly in our own heads, and people may not realize it, but we are just as hard on ourselves as we are on others.
The Law and the prophets are summed up in the context of how we desire to be treated by others. This pushes me to do for others what may not have been done for me. It pushes me to do for others what they may not do for me. And that ain’t easy!
The depth of wisdom found in the law and the prophets reminds us that the Golden rule may be golden, but like gold, it’s not easily mined from the darkness of our experience. Some of us have experienced love so little we are not even sure what it would look like to be treated well. It’s an idea, an abstract. The law and the prophets construct what we struggle to see. We see God’s love that continues despite mistakes, sin, and rebellion. Isn’t this what we all want? To be known, loved, forgiven, and cared for instead of judged, criticized, forgotten, or neglected. This is what the law and the prophets teach us.
Prayer: Lord, construct in me from your law and prophets a true picture of love for God, for others, and for myself. Amen