"The Golden Rule"... I am betting most of you can quote it. No...no...it is not: "Those who have the gold rule!" That would be some folks’ mind set...but all of us being spiritually minded wouldn’t go there and I certainly wouldn’t go there in An Upword Glance. :>) The Golden Rule says: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!" In some form or another that rule finds itself in almost every major religious teaching. That particular quote comes from Jesus in Luke 6:31. Most children in school are still taught the Golden Rule.
I have thought about that verse of Scripture many times, but recently it came to life in a way it never has before. Even though people know the Golden Rule, it seems that we have the ability to change it ever so slightly to meet our own needs. Here are three examples:
"Do unto others...BEFORE...they do unto you!" We’ve all seen that played out before. Someone thinks another person is going to make them look bad, so they strike first...making that person look bad. Chances are it was never in the other person’s mind...but that kind of action is justified by a survival of the fittest kind of mentality. In personal relationships that is deadly! In work relationships it is called stabbing someone in the back. Some victims of this find themselves hoping for what a friend of mine calls Cosmic Justice. In any respects, it is not what Jesus had in mind.
"Do unto others...AFTER...they do unto you!" I will forgive you, if you take the first step toward me. I know people that have 20 year old broken relationships and they are still waiting for the other person to make a move toward them. "As soon as they do, I am ready to forgive and forget!" Sadly, they will likely never get over their bitterness and unforgiveness that grows like a cancer within them.
"Do unto others...BECAUSE...they do unto you!" Anybody who loves me will get my love in return. In other words...I don’t have time or interest to reach out to you first...but if you do something nice to me, I will take the time to do something nice to you. That’s mighty big of me... what a loving person!!! That will build some mighty short and shallow relationships... either personal or at work.
So what did Jesus have in mind with these words? Taken in context (Luke 6:27-36, you can check it out), He was saying that however you would like that other person to treat you is exactly the way you should treat them....and here’s the catch... expecting absolutely nothing in return! He is not talking about people who already love you. He is talking about people that you are really struggling with...maybe they don’t like you...maybe they hate you...they are the ones that put this concept to the test. In that passage of Scripture, Jesus tells His followers to "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you..." You see, it is not about changing the other person...it is all about "ME"... I need to treat that person the way I want them to treat me...not for them... but for me...for my well-being. I can’t control what happens in someone else’s heart...I can only work on my own heart!!
A while back, I read a tremendous book that came out in 1960...and I had never heard of it. It is titled: BLACK LIKE ME. What a book...it gripped my heart and mind from the moment I sat down with it. It is about a white man, a journalist, who is trying to understand racism in the deep south in 1960. Over and over again, he hears the same response from black people he talks to: "You will never understand racism unless you wake up one morning with black skin!" He goes to a dermatologist and through medications has his skin turned to the color of an African American. He then journeys into the Deep South to write about his encounters.
I have never been able to understand racism. I remember talking to a friend many years ago who told me about the racism that existed in the place we lived. I said "What racism? There is no racism around here." He said..."Man, you don’t see it because you’re white...believe me, it is there." He went on to give me some personal examples. I was taken back at the time, but now I realize I really don’t have eyes to see it...not as it actually is. For the most part, I am only able to see the subtle nuances of bigotry or hatred when they are aimed directly at me. That book truly helped me understand some of these things better and it impacted me more than any book has in a long time. Even though it is not a religious type book...in fact it is very graphic in places, I highly recommend it to you.
I mention that book because it brings home the main point of this article so very well. Many of you have experienced bigotry in some fashion. Someone has hated you because of the color of your skin, the God you worship, the country you came from, the place you work...wow...come to think of it...some people find reasons to hate others over almost anything!
Here’s the point Jesus was making...if you are one of those folks who have experienced this kind of hatred...you need to treat that person the way you would truly want to be treated by him or her. Not returning hate for hate. Imagine for a moment how you wish all people would treat you...then treat those who hate you in just that manner...and expect nothing in return. That person may hate you more...it doesn’t matter...what matters is that you are doing the right thing...your heart is becoming pure...you are doing something the way God would do it! God pours out His love on the most unloving, ungodly knuckleheads in the world... and when we follow the Golden Rule... we are being just like Him!!!
If that is too tough for you right now or it doesn’t fit where you are at...try doing it with someone you just plan don’t get along with or don’t particularly like. They may not change. They may get worse... it doesn’t matter... your heart will be so much better because you did it. "DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU!!" Perhaps it is called The Golden Rule because it is so very valuable to our souls...God bless you this week!!
St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church Pueblo, Colorado