At this point in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:12) Jesus gives his followers what is called The Golden Rule. However, it is not a saying unique to Jesus. In many other ethical systems it comes up but with one major difference – elsewhere it is always stated in its negative form, “Don’t do to others what you don‘t want them to do to you.” And that is fine as far as it goes but it evades one important consideration and that is seen in the way it was put by Jesus – “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” The Christian takes the lead in creating the condition that he desires by first treating others as he would like to be treated. Christian ethics are proactive – we demonstrate to others the proper relationship for the benefit of both.
Jesus goes on to point out that this rule of conduct “sums up the Law and the Prophets.” The NLT translates, ”This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” This Golden Rule covers everything that we now call the Old Testament.
The Golden Rule is a short but accurate designation for the totality of the ethical teaching revealed by God to his people. It is a brief and effective guide on how to live as God intends.
So why not try this out. Take pen and some paper (or computer) and write down specifically the ways you would like to be treated. Mine would run something like this:
I’d like to be respected
I’d like to be treated fairly in all exchanges
I’d like my friends to be faithful
I’d like to be told if I am causing others any stress
I’d like to be given a good laugh every day
I’d like others to trust my word –– Etc.
So, what should I now do? The answer is rather obvious if I want to fulfill the Gold Rule I will ––
Treat others fairly
Be faithful –– “But wait,” you say, “You wrote that list, not God.”
“Right, but as believers God has cleansed our conscience and what we know down deep in our heart is exactly what God desires.”
I challenge each of us to live according to our conscience, informed by scripture and enlightened by the Spirit of God. The Golden Rule tells us that a life like that fulfills all moral expectations for his children. In short, the life that is pleasing to God is one in which his children “Treat one another as each would like to be treated.”