Living By the Golden Rule
The Golden Rule. “Do unto others what you want them to do unto you,” Jesus taught, “For this is the law and the prophets.” Here is a teaching that summarizes the spirit of our Orthodox Christian faith.
It’s interesting to see the universal character of the Golden Rule throughout history and across diverse cultures as religious leaders and philosophers have offered similar teachings. For example, the ancient Greek Philosopher Isocrates advised, “Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others.”
In Hinduism, we hear, “This is the sum of duty: do nothing to others which if done to you would cause you pain.”
Buddhism states, “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.”
Confucius exhorted, “Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”
The Jewish Talmud reads, “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.”
In Islam, Muhammed urges in his last sermon, “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.”
Interestingly, the world’s religions agree on the Golden Rule, yet most of them approach it from the negative perspective – “DON’T do something bad to others, which you DON’T want them to do to you.”
Obviously, this would change our world if we didn’t do thing to others which we don’t want them to do to us. Yet, our Lord Jesus emphasizes the Golden Rule in today’s Gospel reading from a positive perspective, precisely because He realizes that it’s not simply enough NOT to do something bad to someone else. The Christian goal isn’t simply to NOT do something, but we must go a step further and DO GOOD THINGS to others. As follows of Christ, who is Love Incarnate, we understand that love isn’t the absence of bad, but it is the presence of good. We must consciously and actively display love to others; Christians live out the fulfillment of their faith by DOING good to others, just as we want others to do good to us. Thus, Jesus calls His followers to take a proactive stance of love.
Let’s all reflect for a moment on the good we want others to do to us? What do we want from others? Let’s go out and do that very thing to others!
Do we want to be loved and cherished? Let’s go out and love and cherish others!
Are we lonely, and would like a visit from someone? Why not go out and visit someone else who is lonely!
Are we sad or mourning a loss? Let’s go out and cheer up another person up in need!
Have we been hurt and nursing a wound that someone else has committed against us? Don’t wait for them to ask for forgiveness, let us go and seek reconciliation from the other!
The Golden Rule makes so much sense for one to live a peaceful and Christ-centered life, and what a different place our world would be if we tried to live by this divine command. Not only would others feel better, but we also would discover deep meaning in life. The more joy we bring to others would fill us with joy! The more love we share would others would lead us into the depths of God’s divine love. Living by the Golden Rule each and every day would help us experience the abundant life God longs for us to have!
Well, how can we make the Golden Rule a permanent part of our lives? I came across a 10 concrete ideas on how to help us live daily by the Golden Rule.
1. Practice empathy. Make it a habit to try to place ourselves in the shoes of another person. Try to understand what it’s like to be them, what they are going through, and why they do what they do. Then reach out to them, as we would want them to reach out to us.
2. Practice compassion. Once we understand another person, and feel what they’re going through, do something concrete to help their suffering. Show compassion!
3. Constantly ask ourselves how others want to be treated. The Golden Rule means that we should try to imagine how they want to be treated, and do we they want.
4. Be kind. When in doubt, it’s usually safe to be kind towards others. Who doesn’t like it when others are kind to us?
5. Be helpful. One weaknesses of our society is that people keep to themselves and ignore the problems of others. Our sense of community has broken down. Let us not be blind to or ignorant of the needs of others. Remember, our salvation is “the other.”
6. Listen to others. We all like to talk, but very few want to listen. Yet, we all want to be listened to. Let’s take the time to actually listen to another person, rather than just wait our turn to talk. It’ll goes a long way in helping us understand others.
7. Confront our prejudice. We all have certain prejudices, whether based on race, creed, gender, age, or whatever. Try to see each person as a child of God, blessed with His divine image. Despite different backgrounds, let’s discover the commonalities that bind us to one another.
8. Stop criticism. Too many have a tendency to criticize others, whether it’s people we know or people we see on television. Let’s ask yourself if we would like to be criticized in that person’s situation. The answer is almost always “no”. So let’s hold back our criticism, and instead learn to interact with others in a positive way.
9. Rise above retaliation. We have a tendency to strike back when we’re treated badly. This is natural from our fallen nature. Resist that urge. The Golden Rule is about treating others well, despite how they treat us.
10. Let’s be the change. Be the change that you want to see in the world. What we want to see in others, let us start doing to others! Even if we don’t see a change in the world, we’ll see a change in our world!
“Do unto others what you want them to do unto you.” The Golden Rule. What practical advice on how to live a meaningful and Christ-like life!
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