Whatever happened to the Golden Rule?


Looking for hope in a hopeless world

Trying to find love in these hateful times

Try to stay strong but my mind is weak

Looking for hope in a hopeless world


Churches are full, but the prayers are not heard

Saturday’s child don’t want to to go to Sunday school

Whatever happened to the golden rule

It takes hope in a hopeless world

From the song, “Hope in a Hopeless World,” by Widespread Panic

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Don’t you love it when a secular rock band nails us with a prophetic message that hits the target? “Churches are full, but the prayers are not heard,” harkens to the prophets in the Old Testament who warned the Jews about bringing burnt offerings when their hearts were far from God. This song charted at #13 in 1997 — twenty years ago — and already, in the success of larger churches packed with rock and roll worshipers, there was a noticeable disconnect — an absence of the kind of behavior from Christians that Jesus championed in the red letters. In fact, the “Golden Rule” is probably one of the most widely known, least followed, examples of the red letters even unbelievers know about. 

Jesus called this “the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Don’t you think that would make this extremely important? It’s very much the same as “love your neighbor as yourself.” That little “as yourself” is the simple measuring stick of the rule. You don’t have to know all the law and the prophets, you only need to know how you would want to be treated. Unsure of what to do around the homeless? What would you want if you were homeless? This is what it means to empathize with someone — to climb into their shoes.

If you were hungry with no money in the bank, would you want someone to drop off a bag of cheap canned goods they would never have on their own shelves? When Marti headed up dinners at the women’s shelter, she laid out five course meals — dinners you would have if you had guests in your own home. If you had an attraction to the same sex, and you weren’t sure how that happened, would you wanted to be treated like a leper? If you were a single mother attending church for the first time, would you want to endure looks like “Welcome to our church. (Just stay away from my husband.)”

I talked to a laicized Catholic priest last night who told me a story of bringing breakfast to a homeless man and sitting down and eating with him. He and this man are good friends now.

“Trying to find love in these hateful times,” identifies the problem. These are hateful times and examples of love are few and far between. I don’t think someone would say this if the millions of proclaimed Christians in this country were treating their neighbors as they would themselves. We have a job to do, people, and it’s all in the red letters.

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10 Responses to Whatever happened to the Golden Rule?

  1. Hillel the Elder was a Jewish sage who lived in the Holy Land during the first century BCE. He was once challenged by a man who demanded: “Teach me the entire Torah while I am standing on one foot!”

    Now, the man had already challenged other rabbis of the time, and none of them would consider such a ridiculous request. After all, who could teach about the Five Books of Moses (the Torah), the books of the Prophets, and the Holy Writings (including Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, etc.) while someone stood on one foot!

    But Hillel was different, and especially known for his patience. He was kind to the man and took up the challenge. While the man stood on one foot, Hillel taught: “What is hateful to you, do not do to others. The rest is commentary – go study it!”

    Hillel’s reply was another way of saying the Bible verse telling us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
    Love them as yourself. In other words, Hillel was teaching that loving others is essentially what the Bible is all about!

    ~ Excerpted from Holy Land Moment Daily Devotionals (04-20-2018):
    “The Hallmark of Our Faith” by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein


  2. Elaine Stedman says:

    John, just two words from me: “ouch”, and “amen”!!

  3. Sandie says:

    Brings to mind The Steeple Song and Rose-Colored Stained Glass Windows.

  4. Sandie says:

    It’s amazing how little it takes to make someone’s day brighter. Bobby and I have made it a practice to thank vets for their service protecting this country – they can usually be identified by the ball caps and insignias they wear. Some are surprised, all are grateful, and some even tear up. Some tell us their stories and we listen.
    It’s sad how surprised people are when you say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ and mean it. When you hold a door, when you let someone out in traffic…when you don’t flip off the person who slammed the door in your face, or cut you off in traffic.
    WE don’t talk TO people anymore – we talk AT them. We make enemies of those who disagree with us. We bury our noses in our phones and other devices and become unaware of anything beyond that screen. If this happens in families, what does this portend for society?

    • I think the portent was already warned about by Jesus and should be expected or anticipated by His followers, especially in this current age:

      “Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”
      – Matthew 10:34-38

      “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.”
      – Mark 13:12-13

      “From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
      – Luke 12:52-53

      “So be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance.”
      – Mark 13:23

      • Sandie says:

        I refuse to give up, even knowing the future Jesus warned of. As long as the Age Of Grace continues, I am determined to be ‘a voice crying in the wilderness’ for as long as He allows.Unfortunately, I’ve known a lot of believers who are kicking back, waiting for The Rapture; I used to be one, way back in the 70’s. I had missed the point that Jesus expected to find me working when He returned. I am thankful He showed me my error. I step on a lot of toes, especially in the ‘church,’ but that’s ok – as long as it’s for the right reason. Bless you Bob, for your insights and sharing.

  5. DarinS says:

    John, Once again, you nailed it! The Golden Rule is so simple, but yet so hard for us. God, help us all to follow it more and more each day. Amen

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