The Golden Rule—What Is It?
“LOOK! I don’t trouble my neighbors. As far as I am concerned, they can do what they want. But, of course, if they were in difficulty, I’d do what I could to help.” Is that your view? When disasters strike, acts of kindness and unselfishness may abound, often to the surprise of many. But is this enough?
If you are a parent, you have no doubt admonished your children to avoid provoking their playmates. Many of us bear scars from our youth to show that ignoring that guideline brings retaliation. Yes, we have learned the wisdom of the maxim crystallized by the Oriental philosopher Confucius: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” Do you realize, though, that this is merely an inferior, negative version of what is known as the Golden Rule?
A Positive Rule
According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, “golden rule” is defined as “a rule of ethical conduct referring to [Matthew] 7:12 and [Luke] 6:31 and stating that one should do to others as he would have others do to him.” Glance at the box at the foot of the page and consider how different Bible versions of Matthew chapter 7, verse 12 allow the brilliance of this guiding principle to shine forth.
Please note that though the words differ from version to version, the rule is positive. After all, as Jesus reasoned earlier in the Sermon on the Mount: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7, 8) Asking, seeking, knocking, are all positive actions. “All things, therefore,” Jesus continued, “that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.”—Matthew 7:12.
The Bible shows that Jesus’ disciples also advocated living by this same rule. (Romans 15:2; 1 Peter 3:11; 3 John 11) Unhappily, though, the present state of human relationships testifies that, by and large, people, whether nominally Christian or not, do not follow it. Does this mean that this rule of ethical conduct is no longer valid? Is it perhaps out-of-date?
[Box on page 3]
“Do to other men all that you would have them do to you.”—The Holy Bible, translated by R. A. Knox.
“Treat other people exactly as you would like to be treated by them.”—The New Testament in Modern English, by J. B. Phillips.
“Whatever you desire that others would do to and for you, even so do you also to and for them.”—The Amplified New Testament.
“Do for others everything you want them to do for you.”—The New Testament in the Language of Today, by W. F. Beck.
“In all respects then, treat your fellowmen as you would wish them to treat you.”—The Four Gospels, translated by E. V. Rieu.
“You must practice dealing with others as you would like for them to deal with you.”—The New Testament, by C. B. Williams.