Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. – Matthew 7:12
Arguably Jesus’ most well-known teaching, the Golden Rule is subscribed to by both believers and non-believers, and for good reason: that one precept encompasses all others, as Jesus said.
But did you know that the idea behind the Golden Rule existed before Jesus taught it in the Sermon on the Mount?
According to commentator David Guzik, the reverse way of stating this concept had long existed in Jewish culture – as in, do not do to your neighbor what you would not have done to you.
But, as with many other familiar ideologies of the time, Jesus took that idea and turned it on its ear, into a concept more proactive than reactive.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. – Matthew 5:38-41
At the time Jesus taught these new ideas, the Jews were, of course, under Roman rule. By law, a Roman soldier could compel a Jew to carry his belongings for a mile. Imagine the reaction of Jesus’ listeners when he told them to volunteer to do so for twice the distance!
These were revolutionary ideas for that time, and they should revitalize our way of thinking and acting as well.
Instead of living by a list of do’s and don’ts, we should open our minds and hearts to what we can do beyond our typical way of living, to proactively serve and encourage others.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:10
I can think of MANY ways I can more fully live by the Golden Rule. What about you? I’d welcome your ideas in the comments.