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Apr '11

The Golden Rule Revisited

After Sunday School last week, Aaron told me about a very interesting conversation he had in his small group. The question was something along the lines of: “Since we are ambassadors of the Lord, how should we act?”  One answer that was given that was mirrored by many in the group was the Golden Rule:”We should treat others as we want to be treated.” While this was being discussed, one member of the group threw a spin on the conventional wisdom and it really struck me. Basically, he said that we have to be careful with this phrase as the way we want to be treated isn’t always the way we should be treated.  We don’t want to be called out when we do something wrong even though sometimes we should be. We don’t want to be confronted with our shortcomings, even though this can be necessary for growth. Sometimes we want that special, preferential treatment, even though we may not deserve it. If we treat others in this way, are we really being God’s ambassador? I think there needs to be an additional “should” added to this very popular quote: “We should treat others as we should want to be treated.”  As Christians, we should want people to step in and confront us (lovingly of course) if we offend them or others.  I would hope people would do this for me even though it’s not easy.  In the same way, we should not be afraid to treat others as we should want to be treated. Jesus did this quite often with his disciples, calling them out when they misinterpreted his teachings. I’m sure the disciples didn’t want to be confronted with this but they knew they needed it and grew from the experience. It is such a minor clarification of the Golden Rule, but with huge implications for how we live our lives and treat others.


3 comments to “The Golden Rule Revisited”

  1. jon Says:

    Very insightful comments about how we should want to be treated. In fact, when Jesus uses the phrase it clarifies how we should treat others in a radical way. Luke 6:27-31 puts the golden rule at the end of a list of ways to treat others that is counterintuitive and totally sacrificial. When most people think of the golden rule they are thinking of “an eye for an eye”. “You did this to me I’ll do that to you”. Jesus places the golden rule always in the context of mercy and sacrifice.

  2. asebesta Says:

    How very interesting! I had never looked at it that way but in looking at the entire passage, that is exactly what it is saying! It is the complete opposite of the equitable treatment that we have associated this phrase with. It requires so much more. Wow-Really powerful when you look at it this way.
    It is incredible how taking things out of context leads to flawed interpretations (but that’s a subject for another day…)

    I’ve copied the passage below:
    Luke 27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

  3. Julie Says:

    Wow Abby this really is a new way for me to interpret this idea, and I really like it. Sometimes the hard part is figuring out how to do those hard things in the most “loving” way, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still be done. And I guess even if they’re not done in the smoothest manner, maybe a jolting confrontation is what it takes sometimes. Jesus certainly gave a lot of “jolting confrontations” when trying to get his point across- washing someone’s feet, touching and healing beggars, pushing over tables of traders- things that you just didn’t do and made people uncomfortable. But those are the things that also made a big impact, opening people’s minds and hearts… Thanks for sharing! I am going to keep on pondering…

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