Going Beyond the Golden Rule.

I’m pretty sure the Golden Rule has nothing to do with Golden Retrievers. But Addison and I just wanted an excuse to say “Hi.”

In any case, you surely know Luke 6:31, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The world knows it well. Or do they?

You may have heard the claim that all the world’s major religions preach some version of the Golden Rule and therefore all religions are pretty much the same.
Indeed, search through other religious writings and you’ll find phrases that do sound similar:

Confucianism says, “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself” (Analect 12:2).
Buddhism says, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” (Udana-Varga 5:18).
Hinduism says, “One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self” (Anusasana Parva 113:8).

But further examination reveals that these three rules are stated in the negative. Those religions seem to be more concerned with what not to do than what their followers should do. The positive proactive command of Luke 6:31 in God’s Holy Bible is very much in keeping with much of Jesus’s teaching.

Jesus turned the world upside down with the idea of loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. Going the extra mile for those who would do you harm is exemplified in this verse from Matthew:

“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
—Matthew 5:40-42 NIV

This is all part of the ongoing theme in the gospels to “Love your neighbor.” Read the verse after the Golden Rule and you’ll see how Jesus takes it another whole step. He reminds us that it’s easy to love the nice neighbors who bring you Christmas cookies and invite you over for burgers on the grill. But what about those neighbors who blast music all night, toss beer bottles on your lawn, or put up campaign signs for candidates of the “other” party? Do you—can you—love them?

As you consider how to apply the Golden Rule take a look at that next verse:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.”
—Luke 6:32-33 NIV

Most people see the Golden Rule as a standalone statement. They never read the logical expansion offered in the next two verses. Jesus is saying that doing good to those who are good to you is not heroic at all! He even seems to finish that thought with a sigh, “Even sinners do that.”

Please note, Jesus is not dismissing the Golden Rule. He’s actually making sure the disciples and future believers don’t take the easy way out. Our goal should be to do good to those who do good to us and those who don’t.

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