This summer, I had the privilege of serving on the softball staff at one of the Living Church of God teen camps. A major theme we teach at our youth camps is the importance of doing all things decently, in order, without confusion, and in peace (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). We also teach many other values from the Bible, and one of the biblical principles that came up a few times this year—including in basketball, softball, and other classes—was the principle of what is often called the “Golden Rule.”
The Golden Rule comes from the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, cf. Luke 6:31). As usual, Jesus said it best. What a potentially world-changing principle, and one desperately needed now more than ever. Of particular note is how Jesus summarized much of the Old Testament with this principle. The Apostle Paul made a similar point in Galatians 5:14: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’” quoting Leviticus 19:18.
The Golden Rule reminds me of my late grandmother, who gifted us with a small, antique-type piece of wall décor that reads, “The Golden Rule,” and then, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We still have it in our house as a cherished reminder both of Jesus’ teaching and my grandmother, a sweet, generous lady (and “full of pep and vinegar,” as she would say with a southern accent) who never met a stranger—an excellent example of striving to truly live by Jesus’ Golden Rule. Christians must strive to keep the Golden Rule centered in their thinking because a potential pitfall of the Golden Rule is to let it become a cliché or a mere platitude. This takes thoughtful effort.
The principle of the Golden Rule is extremely practical and applicable in almost all interactions and relationships with other people, as evidenced by certain scriptures in the Old Testament regarding social interactions. One lengthy example is in Deuteronomy 22:1–4:
You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him. You shall do the same with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment; with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he has lost and you have found, you shall do likewise; you must not hide yourself. You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again.
This was a practical set of statutes that God gave to ancient Israel that taught the vital principle of actively helping those around you, in accordance with the Golden Rule Jesus Christ would teach many centuries later.
Helping teach the Golden Rule and other biblical values to teens at a summer camp was a joy in many ways. I benefited as well from the reminder of one of the simplest and most resounding of Jesus Christ’s teachings. With so much turmoil between peoples and nations today, our world could use much more of Jesus’ words and instructions—especially His Golden Rule.
If you would like to know more, check out the Tomorrow’s World telecast “What Is the Gospel Jesus Preached?”