So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets – Matthew 7:12 (ESV)
Did you hear this a lot as a kid? I know I sure did. At home, at church, out with friends. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s known as the golden rule. It is straightforward and uncomplicated. It doesn’t pose doctrinal questions. There isn’t really room for mistranslation. It’s one of those verses you can read and then apply. As a kid, it was easy. Well, maybe easy isn’t the best word. Sharing your toys or your last Oreo is never easy at any age. The rule was just more straightforward. Treating others as you want to be treated when you’re a kid typically involves something like sharing your toy, not hogging the slide, or not eating all of the pink cupcakes at a birthday party. Life was so basic and simple when we were kids.
Fast forward to adulthood — what does that golden rule look like now in your life? Better question: when was the last time you thought about that golden rule? It’s doubtful it’s about splitting Oreos anymore or sharing a slide, but it probably comes in the form of making a sick friend soup, sending off a birthday card to your friend, or working on a house project with your neighbor.
But how often do we get around to such things? As adults, we have the easiest excuse in the book: we are too busy. You’re too busy thinking about what you need to accomplish, what you need to do. We don’t think about others because thinking about others takes the focus off of ourselves, off of our projects, off of our lives. Our resources, compliments, and time are sparse as it is. Who has time to think about someone else? And let’s be honest, maybe you just don’t want to. Your mom isn’t behind you telling you to split your Oreo anymore, so you get to keep both sides all to yourself.
How did we so easily grasp this as a kid while our moms stood behind us smiling, and we can’t live out the golden rule now as adults when we actually understand what it means? We can tell everyone else to live out the golden rule, but we don’t have to; somehow, we are exempt.
I know we are an independent, dog-eat-dog culture. The United States of America is one of the most individualistic cultures on the planet. We are out for number one. The only reason we care about number two is because they might be catching up with us. Why would we share with someone else? Why would we help out someone else? We are in constant competition in every aspect of our lives. From how we are working, to what we are eating, to what we buy, to where we go in vacation — it’s all a competition. We all want to win. And too few of us think about how we treat others around us. There’s nothing wrong with being a go-getter, and there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, but life isn’t all about us winning all the time. Life shouldn’t be all about us all the time. Life should be more about others. Sometimes, it’s more rewarding to help your neighbor win. Sometimes, it’s more rewarding to help your friend accomplish one of their goals.
It’s hard to reverse patterns, its hard to stop being so selfish. When we were kids, we probably didn’t want to share that toy or half that Oreo, but we did because Mom told us to. And it didn’t kill us, did it? We survived. Now, no one is here to tell us what to do, but the golden rule still applies to us. The Bible is just as true today as it was when we were kids. There isn’t an age limit on the rule. The rule applies to everyone. It won’t kill us to think about others around us before we act. Whatever it is, whatever the occasion, whatever opportunities are sitting in front of you, don’t ignore them, just give a little thought to those around you. Help your neighbor, be a friend to someone who needs one, make a meal and share it with someone. Just split the Oreo. You really don’t need it all to yourself.