The Golden Rule

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets."

Matthew 7:12

We find versions of the so-called "Golden Rule" in the ethical teachings of many philosophers and religions. Yet these versions almost always take a negative form: Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.

But Jesus moves in a bold direction by teaching us, not just to avoid doing that which we hate ourselves, but to do actively for others that which we would prefer for ourselves. Such a simple command sums up the Old Testament moral law. Moreover, it gives us a basic rule of thumb for all of our actions, whether we're at work, at home, or at play.

If we are to employ the Golden Rule effectively, however, we need to attend carefully to the needs and desires of others. For example, when I'm sick, I mostly want to be left alone. I don't want my wife to be hovering over me, seeking to care for my needs. When Linda is ill, on the contrary, she likes lots of attention. So if I apply the Golden Rule simplistically, and leave my wife alone, I'm not ministering to her needs. In order to show love for her and to do what Jesus intends, I need to pay close attention to Linda's wants and needs.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How often do you think in terms of the Golden Rule when you're at work? At home? Out "in the world"? What helps you to attend to the wants and needs of those who are central to your life?

PRAYER: Thank you, gracious Lord, for such a clear, simple, and trustworthy guide for how I'm to live in this world. I only wish I could keep this Golden Rule in my mind and heart more often . . . and do it!

Help me, Lord, to treat others in my office the way I would like to be treated.

Help me to act toward my family in the ways I'd like them to act toward me.

Whether I'm shopping at the market, or driving in traffic, or making a customer complaint, may I always strive to follow your Golden Rule.

Help me to pay close attention to the needs and desires of people in my life so that I might treat them in ways that communicate genuine love and care. Amen.