I think it is safe to say that you like for people to do nice things to you. For example, if you need help, you like it if someone comes to your aid, or if you make a mistake, to be patient with you, or if you have a great loss, to comfort you in your loss. Consider the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 7:9-12 “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Here Jesus reasons that a man will naturally give good gifts to his son and in the same way our Father in heaven wants to give good things to us, His children, when we ask Him. But then He goes on to teach that since your Father in heaven gives good things to you, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.
This last principle is known as the Golden Rule. It is often stated as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I like to think of putting myself in the shoes of the other person. If I were in their shoes, facing the same situation as they face, what would I want someone to do unto me? That tells me what I should do unto them. Jesus taught us that following this principle would fulfill all of the Law and the Prophets. In other words, it would make us pleasing to God. Let us look at several areas where we can apply this principle.
Suppose your brother sins against you in some way and then he is sorry for what he has done to you. Do you forgive him? The Golden Rule teaches us to forgive others because we want to be forgiven when we sin. Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Suppose you gave a task to someone and they completed most of the task but not all at the end of the day. Or suppose someone owed you some money but they didn’t have enough to pay you back. Or perhaps they borrowed something from you and then lost it so they cannot return it to you. Do you insist on full restitution or do you give them mercy? You have many opportunities to give mercy to others. Do you want others and especially God to give you mercy? The Golden Rule teaches us to give mercy to others because we want to be given mercy. Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Luke 6:36 “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” James 2:13 “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Suppose you see that your brother has some need in his life. Perhaps he needs some money to buy something very important. Perhaps he is hungry. Or perhaps a storm destroyed his crops or his means of transportation. Perhaps he has a serious illness and cannot work. Do you ignore his need and tell yourself that it is his problem and not yours? Or do you help him. The Golden Rule teaches us to help another who has needs because we want to be helped when we have a need. 1 John 3:17-18 “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
Suppose you make an appointment to meet with someone at a specific time and they are late in arriving. Or perhaps they agree to give you something but they continue to delay giving it to you. Or perhaps they have a habit or way of doing things that you think is irritating. Do you get angry with them or cast them away? The Golden Rule teaches us to be patient and longsuffering with them because we want others and God to be patient and longsuffering with us. Ephesians 4:2-3 “With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Suppose you have a brother who loses a loved one or someone else close to him. On the other hand, perhaps he gets the job he has wanted for a long time or he marries the love of his life or he has a new baby. Do you ignore him or go to him and weep with him when he weeps and rejoice with him when he rejoices. The Golden Rule teaches us to empathize with others because we want others to empathize with us. Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
Suppose you see that your brother is in poor health or is going on a long journey or needs guidance in his life. Do you pray for your brother? The Golden Rule teaches us to pray for our brother because we want him to pray for us. James 5:16 “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
There are many other ways that you can apply the Golden Rule in your life as you deal with others. Some that come to mind are having compassion for them, bearing their burdens, edifying them, listening to them, being kind to them, giving what they request, greeting them warmly, and loving them. You do these things unto others because you want them to do these things unto you. My encouragement is that you apply the Golden Rule in all areas of your life. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.