Everyone knows that Jesus taught us the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many other religious traditions include a similar prescription. Even secular philosophers have suggested that such a practice is a good basic guide to moral behavior.
But there is a necessary element to following this rule that is sometimes missed as people try to apply the rule to life. For the Golden Rule to work, we must have empathy. Empathy means the ability to have some understanding of the other person’s position, to put one’s self “in their shoes.”
It’s easy to think that we know what another person should want or need, but unless we take some time to see the world from that person’s perspective, we can miss important details. Whether we are talking about our next door neighbor, or Central American refugee children, Palestinians or Israelis, or our own family members, we need to make the effort to understand their situation before we pronounce moral judgments.
This is Jesus’ standard for treating people. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The world, our human nature, tells us to do unto others as they do unto us. Jesus commands us to treat people the way we would want to be treated whether they treat us right or not.
It’s a tough standard by which to live. At first, it got Jesus crucified. But it also brought resurrection and glory. We trust that the same will be true if we are obedient and faithful to what Jesus tells us.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC