Multiple choice question. Which of these is an accurate paraphrase of the Golden Rule?
- Treat others the way they treat you
- Treat others the way you feel like treating them at the moment
- Treat others the way they have treated you in the past
- Treat others the way you want to be treated
The correct answer is #4. Here’s how Jesus says it, in Matthew 7:12, in three different versions of the Bible.
Matthew 7:12 (CSB)
12 Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12 (The Message)
12 Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.
How do you want others to treat you? If you’re like me, you probably want others to treat you in some or all of these ways:
- genuinely kind
- keeps it real, not fake
- cares about you
- is good to you
- takes time for you, there for you
- understands you, and is understanding with you
- forgives you
- is honest, no lies
- is loyal to you
- shows you grace and mercy
- keeps things in confidence
- good to be around, glad to see you
- encourages you, makes you smile and laugh
- helps you when there’s a need
- prays for you
- challenges you to be your best, and brings out the best in you
- loves you
God loves us perfectly. He treats us exactly the way we need to be treated. He is our perfect Heavenly Father. He is our example to follow, and he is the well of goodness that we draw from to treat people the way he wants us to treat them.
If you don’t see God as your source, then your natural tendency is to default to numbers 1, 2 or 3 on the list above: you will treat people the way they treat you, or the way you feel like treating them at that moment, or the way they have treated you in the past. Those are not the ways of Christ. The way of Christ is to treat others the way that God has treated you, the way deep down inside you really want to be treated.
Treat others the way you want to be treated
So think about your relationships and the people you will encounter this week. Using God’s Word as your guide (and the list above, if it is helpful), how do you want to be treated?
Rather than waiting for the other person to treat you the right way, you take the initiative and with God’s help treat them the way you want to be treated, and in this way you will be putting God’s Word (“the Law and the Prophets”) into action. Treat others the way you want to be treated.