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).