IF/THEN: If I Believed in the Golden Rule
IF I BELIEVED IN THE GOLDEN RULE, THEN I would see others as more important than I see myself. “…But in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phil. 2:3)
This is such a hard truth to accept. Rationalization can readily get the upper hand in this one. Why should I treat others with such sacrificial love when they don’t treat me that way? It’s the old “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” deal. But that philosophy simply doesn’t play out very well on the stage of life. This is why the world is in the condition that it is in. It is why families are dysfunctional. It is why there is friction in business and in the church. I don’t know how many times in sharing my faith that the person I am talking to tells me they will go to heaven because they live by the Golden Rule. Has anyone ever lived by the Golden Rule? I mean, really? How many times have you passed by someone who is obviously stranded on the highway and were too busy to help? You didn’t even want to look them in the eye for fear of feeling more guilty than you already felt.
IF I believed in the Golden Rule, THEN I would actually do what I would want done for me in the same situation. For instance, if I were driving along the highway minding my own business and saw someone who looked just like me, I would slow down and take a second look. Suppose it turned out to be me? Would I pull over for me? You bet your booties I would. I would most definitely pull over for me because I really like me. In fact, “like” is not a good enough word for how much I think of me. I am crazy about me. I am my number one fan. Mike is numero uno and deserves to be rescued because he is the greatest. At least, Mike thinks so.
If I lived by the Golden Rule I would not get through the day. I would not make it to work because I would be stopping along the way to help out people the way I would want them to help me. I could not make enough hospital visits or bake enough food to meet every need of the poor. So let’s all agree that none of us lives by the Golden Rule. So why does the Lord tell us to conduct our lives this way? Have you ever noticed that the Lord never says “to the best of your ability, pray when you get a chance,” but rather “pray without ceasing” (I Thes. 5:17)? Have you ever noticed He doesn’t say “meditate if there is time in your schedule,” but rather “meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2)? The Lord doesn’t say “try your best,” but rather “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:8) or “be holy as I am holy” (I Pet. 1:16). God’s standard could never be anything but perfection, thus the Golden Rule.
This is the heart of the Gospel. Christ lived out what I couldn’t. He didn’t have to meditate day and night because he is the living word. He is the answer to prayer. He is the embodiment of the Golden Rule. So to be in Christ is to have carried out all of these impossible demands. II Corinthians 5:21 tells us that we have become the righteousness of God in Christ. The righteousness that we could not achieve he achieved for us. Do we now decide never to pray or live by the Golden Rule? To quote the apostle Paul, “may it never be.”
Instead of the impossible standard of the Golden Rule, this is now our motivation – the power of the Gospel. “….and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20b).
2 thoughts on “IF/THEN: If I Believed in the Golden Rule”
I absolutely agree with the golden rule, but do I live it out? I try….is that lame?
Yes, the bible says be perfect, but that is impossible for anyone but God.
I do have to say that this is more complicated to me than it may seem on the surface. What is the motivation for living the golden rule? It can easily become a desire to ‘people please’ to do ‘good works’ and for whose eyes? To win favor with certain people, to make myself feel good about myself?
Before I became a Christian, I only felt ‘worthy’ if I was doing for others, being of service. But I find that too is not noble, nor healthy. Now I find my worth in Christ, and that is such a gift, so I no longer feel the need to ‘people please’. It’s very freeing.
And further more, I do think Christians especially need to be careful. We can get caught up in ‘serving’ to the point of depleting ourselves and being exhausted and neglecting our families…..I like the verse that says we should each give what we have decided in our hearts to give, joyfully, not out of compulsion. 🙂
So do I live out the golden rule? I strive too, as God leads, but I know I fall short, really short.
But God gives us grace.
Here’s a quote I happen to like:
“If you sow sparingly you’ll reap sparingly, but if you sow more than you have you’ll be bankrupt.” -Henry Cloud.
I think of this in terms of ‘helping’ others and service etc….although when I think of the golden rule I think a whole lot about, not so much actual ‘help’, but an attitude, a spirit towards others. One of love….and I guess that means how I think of them, how I see them (through God’s eyes, with compassion) and how I speak to them and treat them.
So when I struggle to get along with people who are rude to me, I should remember Phil. 2:3? This is so hard for me. I should try not to take it personally, or perhaps I could look at it as a test and an opportunity to strengthen my “Golden Rule” muscles.