So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
This verse is well-known to most of us as the golden rule. It occurred to me today that it could be interpreted two different ways.
First, the golden rule could be viewed as an instruction – something to be obeyed. Most of us don’t like rules. They get in the way of living our lives the way we want to. We are a rebellious people, sinful at the core and it is not easy to follow rules, especially when it calls for us to put others ahead of ourselves (unless of course we are facing something unpleasant).
Secondly, the golden rule could be interpreted as a measure. If I asked you what this is:
most of you would reply, “It is a ruler”. And I would not argue with you. However it is also known by some as a “rule”.
noun: rule; plural noun: rules; noun: Rules
1. one of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere.
2. a strip of wood or other rigid material used for measuring length or marking straight lines; a ruler.
So in light of that Jesus calls us to measure what we do to others by how we would measure what they do to us.
Do you ever think that becomes too romantic a notion? Can it be too easy to brush off an action because we tell ourselves we wouldn’t mind if someone did it to us? For most of us it’s not too difficult to deceive ourselves!
There are different types of rulers, or measuring sticks. They can be shorter or longer, metal, plastic or wood. We might call them by different names (ruler, yardstick, tape measure) and they might be used in different situations, but they all serve the same purpose, to measure.
Today I had to wonder if I use a longer measuring stick when I measure my own actions than when I measure those of others.
How would I measure my actions if I was doing it to myself?
Perhaps you don’t struggle with being selfish and egotistical as I sometimes do but I’ll admit that if something is going to impact me personally it can often result in different actions (or reactions) on my part. That’s not easy to admit, but I’m guessing many of you are right there with me!
Do you ever leave dirty dishes in the sink instead of washing them or putting them in the dishwasher right away because you think there’s a pretty good chance someone else will do it for you? Do you leave a project or chore to the last minute because you know someone else will pick up the slack if you don’t get it done?
Have you ever been deceptive by telling yourself you really wouldn’t mind if someone else did it to you? (come on, really?) Do you measure your own actions with a yardstick while measuring those of others with a 6″ rule?
Maybe it’s a funny way of looking at the idea, but for me I honestly think that in some everyday, routine tasks the golden rule gets lost somewhere in translation.
I’m going to work on that.
Blessings and peace as you ‘rule’ your world today…