What our parents don’t tell us about the Golden Rule

Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets. – Matthew 7:12

This is the Golden Rule. You might have also seen it attributed to Confucius who said, “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.” It essentially carries the same meaning, although stated in the negative.

What we learn eventually

There’s a second part to this rule, however, that our parents don’t normally tell us when we’re in the playground refusing to share our lunch with the new kid in school. This bit we have to learn for ourselves, mostly the hard way. What I’m talking about is the part that goes, “But don’t expect others to do the same.”

What the world isn’t

I’m guessing we’ve all learned, one way or another, that the world isn’t fair. The Bible tells us that we live in a fallen world, and every single thing we see, hear and experience, is proof of that. Only when we come to terms with the fact that the good we do will not necessarily be repaid by the same quantity of good can we free ourselves from frustration and disappointment.

The other half

So why don’t we give up trying to be good, then, if we’re not expected to anticipate anything like it in return? Here’s the other half:

And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. – Luke 6:34

For the sake of not breaking into a lengthy discussion, let me quote the rest of the passage, which goes:

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. – Luke 6:36

And yes, it’s true that this is easier said than done.