Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
“An epitaph,” according to Wikipedia,” is literally: 'on the gravestone' a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial.” The particular one I remember one specific day was short and simple; it just said, “She lived by the Golden Rule.” I don't think she (whoever she was) wrote this epitaph for herself; rather, it appears that someone who cared for her ascribed this memoriam to her.
The Golden Rule was stated by Jesus during his Sermon on the Mount (though He didn't call it that). Literally, it went like this; “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7.12). Like so many other of His sayings, people tend to abbreviate them and ignore their contexts. However, as those interested in truth, it falls our lot to attempt to fully understand what Jesus meant by this pithy saying.
The first clue to its meaning comes from the immediate context; note that He said, “...for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Anyone who wants to truly understand His words, of necessity, must take into account all that He said including His statement about the Law and the Prophets. The Golden Rule summarizes the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament). It was a moral code based on the concept of treating others in a manner that one would want to be treated. It is not a code for all times and all places, but its principle certainly applies to men of common cultural backgrounds (such as the Hebrew nation or any other nation).
To claim that someone lived by the Golden Rule is to make a lofty claim. It follows that the person who lived in such a manner sought the good of others in proportions equal to his/her own good. If places others on a moral, ethical, and spiritual plane equal to that upon which we stand. It does not know prejudice, that is, unless prejudice is something that we would want exercised toward us by others! The Golden Rule is a code which can exist and do well in any civilized society. It deals with our initial actions and reactions towards others, but it is limited to that. It DOES NOT deal with remedial actions that society must demand when someone breaks the moral code common to that society. Just because I might not want to be punished for a crime against society does not mean that is the way to treat others. The Golden Rule was a synopsis of how God intended for the Hebrews to treat one another on a day to day basis even as the Law and the Prophets bore out.
Think with me what the Golden Rule would do to a few of our institutions. What if spouses always based their actions toward their marital partner on this premise? All abuse would stop instantly and only the best of motives and actions would be born out in the lives of husbands and wives. What if this rule were prevalent and working in our places of employment? There would be no reason for unions and disputes with management would be a thing of the past. Suspicion would be cast aside and trust would be commonplace between employees and their supervisors and vice versa. If the Golden Rule were practiced by our lawmakers and politicians, taxes would be reasonable and legislation would truly benefit others and not simply line the pockets of those passing the laws.
The Golden Rule is a wonderful and lofty principle to which all of us should aspire. Try it for a week and you will be surprised what a difference it will make in your relationships!
1. What is the actual complete wording of the Golden Rule as given by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount?
2. How did the Golden Rule relate to the Old Testament? Was it to be taken as a rule that could be applied under any and all circumstance?
3. What relationships would be bettered by applying the Golden Rule to them?
4. Did Jesus live by the Golden Rule? Did that stop Him from rebuking those who violated principles of righteousness or moral codes? Discuss the implications of these facts.
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