One of the most profound rules of morality and spiritual success came straight from the teachings of Jesus Christ. Have you made it your mission statement?
Last summer, I had the privilege of serving on the softball staff at a Living Church of God teen camp. 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—not just in softball, but also in basketball and other classes—was the principle often called the “Golden Rule.”
The Golden Rule comes from Jesus’ words 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). What a potentially world-changing principle, and one desperately needed now more than ever! As usual, Jesus said it best.
Of particular note is how Jesus summarized much of the Old Testament with this principle, and He was not alone. The Apostle Paul made a similar point: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14). Many who aren’t familiar with their Bibles fail to realize that Paul, like Jesus, was quoting a crucial Old Testament teaching, found in Leviticus 19:18.
The Golden Rule makes me think of my late grandmother, from whom I received a small, antique-type piece of wall décor with the title, “The Golden Rule,” and then, beneath it, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is in my home as a cherished reminder both of Jesus’ teaching and my grandmother, a sweet, generous lady (also “full of pep and vinegar,” as she would say) who never met a stranger—an excellent example of striving to live faithfully by Jesus’ Golden Rule.
Christians must strive to keep the Golden Rule centered in our thinking, as it can become far too easy to let it become a mere platitude. To avoid this pitfall requires thoughtful effort on our part.
The principle of the Golden Rule is far more than a platitude: it is, in fact, extremely practical and applicable in almost all of our interactions and relationships, as we are reminded by several scriptures in the Old Testament. One lengthy example is worth our careful attention:
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 (Deuteronomy 22:1–4).
This reminds us that the Golden Rule was not an abstract cliché; it was found in a practical set of statutes that God gave to ancient Israel, teaching the Israelites the vital principle of actively helping those around you—just as Jesus Christ would teach the Golden Rule many centuries later.
Helping to teach the Golden Rule, along with other biblical values, to teens at summer camp was a joy in so many ways, and by teaching it I also gained benefit from the reminder of one of the simplest and most powerful of Jesus Christ’s teachings. With so much complex turmoil between peoples and nations today, our world could use much more of Jesus’ simplest instructions—especially His Golden Rule.