I think most people are familiar with the Golden Rule, whether they claim to believe the Bible or not. It is, after all, simply a nice way to live. But the truth is that the Golden Rule, when Jesus first taught it, was rather revolutionary. It took the expectations of how people treated one another to whole new level.
See, the Pharisees and other religious leaders had a rule of their own that went something like this: Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
At first glance it may not seem like there is a lot of difference between those two , but in reality there is a world of difference. I can refrain from doing things to you and still not treat you kindly or even acknowledge you. After all, I don’t think I would have a difficult time going through life not hitting others upside the head, or not shooting people who annoy me, but that still leaves open all kinds of ways in which I could treat or interact with others without doing so in love and kindness.
The Golden Rule that Jesus taught is a proactive approach. It is not enough to sit back and avoid doing things to you that are unpleasant because I wouldn’t want them done to me. Rather, to obey Jesus’ commandment, I need to actively treat others with the kindness and respect that I would want them to extend to me. This takes a lot more effort and intentionality than the old version of the rule for interacting with others.
It’s a good reminder for all of us of how we should interact with those we come in contact with, whether family members, coworkers, neighbors, students, cashiers, or strangers. If we want others to acknowledge us, we must acknowledge them. If we want others to be polite and helpful, we must be. If we want others to speak in a respectful tone and with polite language, we must do that, too.
It’s not an easy thing to do, and it simply does not come naturally…but it is a commandment from the Lord and is a lifestyle choice we should all strive to make.