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Living Out the Golden Rule

Fr. Luke A. Veronis

“Do unto others what you want them to do unto you.” The Golden Rule. Jesus basically said this rule summarizes the law and the prophets. Here is the spirit of our Orthodox Christian faith. Treating others the way we want to be treated.

It’s interesting to see the universal spirit of the Golden Rule throughout history and across diverse cultures. The world’s 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, “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 Jesus 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 ACTS for others, just as we want others to treat us well. 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. Think about all the political discussions and arguments we are having. Think about all our negative social media posts. Think about our conversations especially about those with whom we disagree. What do we want from others? How do we want them to treat us? Are we treating others and responding to others as we want to be treated? With respect. With kindness. With understanding. With patience. With love.

If we want to be loved and cherished, go out and love and cherish others!

If we are lonely and would like a visit from someone, go out and visit someone else who is lonely!

If we sad or struggling and looking for someone to comfort us, go out and cheer up another person up in need!

If we’ve been hurt and are nursing a wound and are waiting for someone to ask for forgiveness, why don’t we go out and forgive the other and seek reconciliation from the other!

The Golden Rule makes so much sense for us 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 with others would lead us into the depths of God’s divine love. Living by the Golden Rule each and every day helps us experience the abundant life God longs for us to have!

Let’s try to make the Golden Rule a permanent part of our lives! Here are 10 ideas on how to live daily by the Golden Rule.

  1. Practice empathy. Make it a habit to place ourselves in the shoes of another. Try to understand what they’re 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, enter into their suffering and co-suffer with them!
  3. Constantly ask yourselves how you want to be treated and then go out and treat others that way.
  4. Be kind. When in doubt, be kind towards others. Who doesn’t like it when others are kind to us?
  5. Be helpful. Don’t keep to yourself and ignore the problems of others. We live in a society that has broken down. We’ve forgotten community. Let’s remember we are a part of a global family. Let us not be blind to or ignorant of the needs of others. Remember, “the other” is my salvation.
  6. Listen to others. We all like to talk, but very few want to listen. Take time to attentively listen to others. It’ll goes a long way in helping us understand others.
  7. Confront your prejudice. We all have certain prejudices, whether based on race, creed, gender, economics, age, or whatever. Look at each person as a child of God, blessed with His divine image and discover the commonalities that bind us to one another.
  8. Stop criticizing others. Especially with the political discussions, stop criticizing and try to see good in the other. Offer words of encouragement that build up. Don’t tear down.
  9. Rise above retaliation. This is natural from our fallen nature. Resist that urge. The Golden Rule is all about treating others well, despite how they treat us.
  10. Let’s be the change we 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. Practical advice for a meaningful and Christ-like life!