Treating Others as Yourself—Is It Practical?
LIFE is pleasant indeed when one is treated with consideration! But today many persons give little thought as to how their words and actions affect others. They expect their fellowmen to be kind and to deal fairly with them. But at the same time they may think nothing of profiting at the expense of someone else.
Such persons may condemn the wrongs of fellowmen while excusing their own serious moral failings. They may be incensed about robberies and rapes occurring in their city. Yet they overlook the fact that they themselves are guilty of other wrongs. How so? They may misrepresent their income to gain tax advantages, cheat customers, loaf on the job, or engage in adultery or premarital sex. While decrying religious and racial bias when they are in the minority, they may themselves trample upon the rights of others if they later are able to attain greater power or control.
Many people are like the prominent nation that is heard preaching “peace” but that sells more arms than any other nation. They are like nations that suffered under colonial rule but, upon gaining independence, become oppressive themselves.
However, one of the most ancient guides for living, the Bible, counsels against applying a different standard to others from what we do to ourselves. It states: “A cheating pair of scales is something detestable to Jehovah.” (Prov. 11:1) “All things . . . that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.” (Matt. 7:12) “Do not you people be owing anybody a single thing, except to love one another . . . Love does not work evil to one’s neighbor.” (Rom. 13:8, 10) But is what the Scriptures outline really practical in a dishonest world?
Ask yourself, Has disregard for the Bible’s counsel worked out to the good of humankind? Surely the answer is all too obvious. Fraud, corruption, crime and violence are making daily life ever harder for millions. In many places people must be on constant guard so that they will not be cheated. Business establishments have to raise prices to offset losses from employee and customer theft, or to cover expenses for increased security measures. Dishonesty in the form of shoddy workmanship and the use of inferior building materials may cause serious injuries and even fatalities. The mental and emotional hurt resulting from trampling upon others’ rights is incalculably great.
While a person may think that he must look out exclusively for his own interests if he is going to survive in this world, his ignoring others’ rights is certainly not going to improve relations with his fellowmen. He would simply be adding his share to the unpleasantness that has resulted from disregarding right principle.
In actuality, the person who is genuinely interested in his neighbor gains rich dividends. What are some of these?
Benefits to Oneself
One great benefit coming to those who uphold right principle is personal happiness and satisfaction. This is in harmony with the words of Jesus Christ: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
Doubtless you yourself have observed the outworking of this principle. Among the happiest people are those who really care about their fellowmen. They find delight in being helpful and accommodating. Content with what they have, they do not greedily strive for more nor do they worry unduly about financial matters. On the other hand, the stingy, greedy person is never satisfied with what he has. When he gives, he does so grudgingly, under compulsion or with some ulterior motive in mind. For instance, he may wish to secure some favor from the receiver of the gift. He misses out on the joy that comes from making others happy by giving unselfishly of his time, energies or assets.
The person who treats others as he wishes to be treated often gains the respect and admiration of his fellows. His course of action appeals to their conscience—that inner sense of right and wrong inherent in humankind. Also, is not the honest, dependable worker preferred by employers over one that is dishonest, unreliable and lazy? Do not even persons who may be unprincipled themselves want to deal with people whose word can be trusted?
Principled men and women also maintain their own self-respect. They are not plagued by a guilty conscience. Their life is free from the fears of being exposed and disgraced as lawless citizens. They enjoy peace of mind because of knowing that their conduct is above reproach.
An Approved Relationship with the Creator
Most importantly, those not yielding to the temptation to adopt a selfish attitude can maintain a clean standing before the Creator, Jehovah God. In striving to conduct themselves aright and working for the good of others, they are obeying the admonition of Jesus Christ: “Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, a never-failing treasure in the heavens, where a thief does not get near nor moth consumes.”—Luke 12:33.
Through unselfish giving, the servant of God builds up a fine record with the Most High. That record is like a treasure deposited in heaven. Neither moth nor rust nor anything else can destroy that record. It is a real treasure, since Jehovah God will reward individuals according to the record that they have made with him. For example, regarding those who give out of a pure motive, without drawing attention to themselves, Jesus Christ said: “Your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you.”—Matt. 6:4.
Furthermore, God’s approved servants are on the way to receive the greatest gift of all. What is that? Everlasting life in a righteous new order, where the problems that have resulted from people’s living by a double standard will be things of the past. The Bible tells us: “The gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) And “there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Pet. 3:13.
Treating fellow humans as you would like to be treated is practical indeed. You thereby avoid needlessly hurting others and, instead, appeal to their conscience. You maintain happiness, contentment and self-respect. Above all, sticking to right principle contributes toward maintaining a fine relationship with Jehovah God—a relationship that can last for all eternity.