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The “Golden Rule:” key to lasting relationships

January 29, 2024

Daily Scripture

Matthew 7:9-14

9 Who among you will give your children a stone when they ask for bread? 10 Or give them a snake when they ask for fish? 11 If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. 12 Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets.
13 “Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. 14 But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In this passage, Jesus summed up the big ideas he taught in the Sermon on the Mount, including God’s wisdom about human relationships. He had told his hearers to love their enemies, be honest, show mercy, and more. Those were not separate, individual rules. They expressed the great principle in verse 12 (often called the “Golden Rule”) of treating others as God treats us, and as we would like others to treat us.

  • In law, business, politics (and too often in committed personal relationships), we often hear the idea that we ought to treat people based on what they deserve. Jesus said to treat people as God treats us, with grace and generosity even when we don’t deserve that (cf. Romans 5:6-8, 2 Corinthians 5:19-21). How can marriage and other relationships become more enduring when love and grace replace “deserving” to guide us in mutual love and sharing?
    NOTE: “mutual” is the crucial word here. “Harming our mates, physically or emotionally, or controlling and demeaning them, is the exact opposite of this vow [to ‘help’ our partner].” *
  • But surely the “Golden Rule” was just a nice, surface-y social motto, one of those things that sounds good, but nobody can live up to. Jesus added, “The gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it” (verse 14). What people or conditions make it hardest for you to treat others as you’d like them to treat you? What are some ways you have proactively tried to treat others in “Golden Rule” fashion? How easy or hard was it to do that?

Lord Jesus, help me to live less and less in “demand” mode, and more and more in line with your teaching. Help me to treat others in the ways I wish they’d treat me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt serves as Resurrection's Silverlink Pastor specializing in pastoral care of elderly adults. She is an ordained Elder in the Missouri Annual Conference and has served since 2007. She is married to Randall, a special education teacher. They have two daughters, Elliott and Marlowe. When Emily is not in a care home sharing communion or with her family on another Kansas City adventure, you can find her curled up on the couch at home binge watching "Friends" or "Golden Girls."

The golden rule is something we all remember hearing about. I think I probably first learned it in school, honestly. For a few years, I am not sure I realized that Jesus was the one who taught it first! It has become a teaching in our culture that is generally accepted and encouraged.

A few years ago during my Clinical Pastoral Education training to be a chaplain at a hospital I heard of a different rule. This one is called the platinum rule. Coined by a sociologist named Milton Bennett, the platinum rule says, “we should treat others the way THEY want to be treated.” It is for sure an important expansion of Jesus’ original rule. In chaplain work, it meant that we respected our patients’ boundaries, making sure they were comfortable with prayer being offered or a touch on the shoulder.

How can you treat others the way THEY want to be treated today? Perhaps it is listening to them when they have a problem, even though you would want advice if you were in their shoes. Maybe it is asking someone what would help them instead of assuming that you know what is best. For a partner, maybe it is recognizing that the way they want to be shown love is not the same as yours might be. I am all about acts of service–please do my dishes or take out the trash. But my spouse wants a hug and some quality time. Following the platinum rule with him takes some intentionality of my own, to treat him how he wants to be treated, and not just how I want to be.

The golden rule is important; and the platinum rule adds another layer. Most of all, we are called to love each other. I encourage you to do just that today!

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Hamilton, Adam. Love to Stay (p. 75). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.