Distortion of the Golden Rule

September 25, 2017


"Do unto other what they've done unto you." How many times have I heard this phrase lately? Way too many times to count. It always makes me stop in my tracks. No no no! My mind grumbles and I sigh in frustration. "Do unto others what they've done unto you..."


Do you notice anything wrong with that phrase? It's been re-written in this era to serve the purpose of the person saying it, but it's not right, at all! A lot of people who I've heard say this lately (my own family included) use it to mean something along the lines of "Well, they've treated me badly, so I'm going to do them badly." But this is wrong, this line of thinking is wrong and has been so distorted that it's turning a simple guide for our lives into something more self serving. Almost turning it into an excuse for our own bad behavior.


The verse that this is based on is Luke 6:31, the KJV version says "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." since that phrasing is a little trickier I'll also include the NASB version (which is the one I prefer to read), "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." These are words spoken as instruction by Jesus.


This is often referred to as the Golden Rule and I would even go so far as to say that if we applied this simple phrase into all of our everyday interactions that it would cause a lot more things to go more smoothly.


If you compare the two (the one I first quoted and the actual verse) you can see what the differences are. It doesn't say to treat people how they have actually treated you, because inevitably that would mean that we go around treating others badly all the time. Instead, we need to focus on that word WANT. Treat people the way you WANT them to treat you.


People are inevitably going to let you down from time to time. They may even treat you badly and sometimes they don't even realize it. But that doesn't mean we should start treating them badly. We should instead focus on doing the opposite. If they treat you badly and you return bad to them, you're only adding fuel to a fire. You're creating more distance and probably more bad behavior in return. It's a snowball that is going to continue to roll down a hill until it's too large to stop. However, if they treat you badly, and you decide that you're still going to treat them well, then sometimes it heads off more bad treatment. If it was unintentional, then no harm no foul. If they treated you badly on purpose then they may rethink their actions.


We have to decide that we want to rise above bad treatment, we want to stop it in its tracks and decide that we will be different. We can't expect to distort the Golden Rule and have good results from twisting it to serve a selfish, vindictive, self-serving intention.


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Autumn Semones

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