From the Pastor's Pen
Moving From the Golden Rule to the Platinum Rule
Clarence E. Byerly
I have a friend who constantly reminds me that by following the Golden Rule, he is a good Christian. He likes to quote what may well be the only verse he has ever memorized from the Bible-"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Mt 7:12).Obviously there is more to Christianity than following the Golden Rule, but my friend is content quoting Jesus.
More importantly, just because Jesus said it, does not necessarily make it a Christian rule to follow? Is the Golden Rule one we should build our lives on as Christians? Is the Golden Rule the Christian ethic Jesus wanted us to live by?
Many people don't realize the Golden Rule can be dangerously abused. If people treat me as I treat them, it is possible I treat them badly and don't care if they reciprocate. If a person treats me unfairly or arrogantly or abusively, I might retaliate. Golden Rule people have a hard time turning the other cheek when someone hits them or sues them or gossips about them. Can we ignore others and even treat them badly and still live by the Golden Rule? Of course we can!
Golden Rule living does not need God. It can put self first instead of God and others. You see, Golden Rule living is to measure how we relate to others by our own understanding and motivation while Golden Rule living does not take into account how blinded we are to sin.
Jesus went beyond the Golden Rule with what Leonard Sweet calls the "Platinum Rule"- "to love others as he loves us." Christian love always seeks the well-being of the other person with no thought to our own needs- putting others first and self second. Jesus stressed that we must love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, and then love our neighbor as ourselves.
Jesus described a different way of loving in John 15:13-14, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command." And what does Jesus command? John 13:34-35 tells us, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Platinum Rule living always measure how we love others by Jesus Christ. And how does Jesus love us? "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 Jn 3:16). "This is who God showed his love for us: He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 Jn 4:9f).
To rise above the Golden Rule, one must have a committed, obedient relationship with Jesus. So, are we Golden Rule people or Platinum Rule people? Following Jesus will raise us to a new level of love.
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Updated November 14, 1999