The Golden Rule
The Golden Rule - why would these words of Jesus be any different than any other. Jesus is reported to have spoken more than 1000 words that are quoted in the Bible. Why is this one from Luke 6 v 31 and Matthew 7 v 12 any more “Golden” than words from the cross? those spoken at the Last Supper? or His Sermon on the Mount?
The next step in the Life Recovery programme is one that deals with our previous wrongdoings or hurts which we may have caused to others. A non-believing friend of mine once told me that there is no sense in following the thoughts of a Saviour who we can’t relate to. We have a conscience and we should follow how good or badly we feel about our actions. If it dwells with us, then, we follow how we feel. Sure, it has merit but who gave you the conscience in the first place? If you have no desire to believe that God exists and that He created us and loved us enough to sacrifice His only Son, you will always follow your own ways.
Your personal Golden Rule?
A dedicated and faithful pastor who I knew from 20 years ago gave me a wonderful piece of advice which I have tried to adopt everyday since then. The advice - Leave people better than you found them. Does that make this my personal Golden Rule? We follow what our parents say and put them into practice as much as we can. Should that be our Golden Rule? in honour of our parents memory?
The whole principle has it’s roots in many religions. This was referred to by 2 theologians of the 17th Century. Why would we decided to follow a view that someone came up with 300 years ago, if we are not interested in the views of a prophet, healer, Son of God, King of kings… from 200 years ago? When we are counselling offenders, it is only when they begin to reflect on their actions and the consequences of their actions, do they start to recognize what went wrong and where it started.
Most people want to forget all about things that they may have done wrong, trying to explain them away or at least blame someone else. Divorce is, rarely, a process of honesty where both parties fully accept their part in the split. If it were not the case, the law courts would be empty of civil actions regarding divorce and separations. He did, She did, it wasn’t me are the main disagreements.
This step in the programme is to recognize OUR part in the actions. We should be willing to be honest and recognize the consequences of those actions. When we have no guideline or no standard to live by, we will do whatever we think. It becomes a question of Ethics. These are defined as the moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity. When we are deep in sin, there are no guidelines. It is measured only by our standards or the goading or pressure from others that we live by.
The guideline towards recovery here is that we made a list of all the persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Does that cover everyone? Are we allowed to have a view on whether we think we were responsible for one event, so can we pass that one by? What about the ‘Big One’, the one that we hope no-one mentions? The whole issue of Ethics is that we must have a willingness to change, a willingness to act fairly, responsibly, honourably to those whose lives we make contact with.
A part of God’s master plan for all of us is that we have free will. Free will got us into whatever state we find ourselves in, Free will will get us back on course. What Jesus was asking us to do was the MINIMUM. How difficult would it be to say - ‘My actions were out of line’, ‘forgive me’, ‘I was wrong’ - too many times, we have found it impossible to say. The Bible is full of people who came to realise that there actions were not considering the other person. Zacchaeus was only one of the tax collectors who knew that he had cheated people more than the hated Romans. A position of influence or strength does not give us the right to bully others or misuse our position.
The programme is called ‘Life Recovery’ - how many of us, who have lived a good life, not tried to offend or mistreat others, have areas which we would not want to re-live? We can call the words of Jesus unnecessary, over the top, irrelevant but one day they will be placed before us as a sign of whether we followed His ways or not. Do we responded sooner of later?