This is mirrored in the Talmud, a collection of Jewish laws, which says, “what is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.”
In Hindu writings, “Do not do to others what you do not wish done to yourself.”
Muslim writings put it, “No one of you is a believer until you desire for another, that which you desire for yourself,” and the Tibetan Buddhist writings state, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”
Historically and universally, people have found this “rule” to be valuable. It’s easy to teach to our children. It’s easy to memorize. “treat others as you want to be treated.” It’s hard to live. In the personal day-to-day hustles of life, we gravitate toward “tit for tat,” “eye for eye,” “payback.”
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THERE ARE PEOPLE who claim this is a bad rule.
Some use the Five Love Languages book as justification. This book claims, and I think rightly so, that each of us have different ways in which we recognize love — getting gifts, words of support, touching, service, and quality time. You like receiving flowers, so you send him flowers. But he’d rather have a night cozied up on the sofa. So, argument goes, the Golden Rule is wrong.
Others say that to treat others the way we want to be treated is to get run over; taken advantage of; hurt even more. You treat the bully at school nicely, and he still takes your lunch money.
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BOTH OF THOSE CONCERNS, and I’m sure others, have a point but I think that’s getting lost in the weeds. There’s a common thread of how people want to be treated. People — your children, your spouse, your co-workers, your employees, your boss, your classmates, your friends, your “frienemies.” Across the board. Every person in every situation.
■ People want to be valued. Valuing people because they are human beings is reason enough to be ethical in our approach with people.
■ People want to be treated with respect. Sometimes we say people have to earn our respect. What if we start off respecting them and they have to lose our respect?
■ People want to be trusted. I’ve heard that to be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved. While it is true that we can be taken advantage of, it is also true that trust creates the foundation of a strong relationship.
■ People want to be appreciated. We all want to be appreciated for the skill and effort that we bring to the workplace, to family relationships, to our church. Showing appreciation builds self-confidence and self-esteem and frees us all to be ourselves.
■ People want to be understood. An inventor by the name of Charles Kettering once said, “There is a great difference between knowing and understanding. You can know a lot about something and not really understand it. The same is true about people.” We can be quick to find fault with folks who don’t conform to our thought process or patterns.
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THE SWIFT CHILDREN read these verses last Sunday night at SWAG (Saved With Amazing Grace). They wrote down what these verses say about behaving as God’s children.
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THIS IS WHAT “treat others as you want to be treated” looks like. This is not how we naturally want to act. This is not the guidance we will find on Facebook or watching talking heads on TV or from many of our friends. But it is how Jesus calls us to live and behave as God’s children.
Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. Every person. Every day. In every circumstance.
— Keith Cardwell