What is the Golden Rule? - Biblical Meaning, Importance and Examples

Brannon Deibert

What is the Golden Rule? - Biblical Meaning, Importance and Examples

The Golden Rule is the ethical principle of treating other people as one's self would prefer to be treated. One of Jesus' most famous and impactful teachings, the Golden Rule can be found in the Bible verses Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Do to others as you would have them do to you.Luke 6:31

A simple notion about the ethical treatment of others that was profound in its origin and resonates through the ages.

 

Meaning of the Golden Rule in the Bible

"Golden Rule" is not explicitly found in Scripture, this became the popular way of referring to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. In summary, the Golden Rule encompasses the empathic essence of morality. It is a simple yet powerful way of saying that we should recognize the respective dignity of our fellow man and not forget we all are capable of inflicting immoral actions. This is vital in following the commandments of God and creating a more virtuous world.

Jesus declares, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." With regard to the Old Testament, two main points prevail. Matthew's reference presents the Golden Rule as encapsulating the teachings of the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12 reads, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." Second, even though the Golden Rule addresses human interpersonal relationships, its message is additionally theological. That is, the very character of God guides how we should interact and relate to one another.

 

Importance of Following the Golden Rule

We are to follow and exercise the Golden Rule because God's heavenly wisdom teaches self-control, and his virtue teaches kindness. This proverb is appropriately called the Golden Rule, for it encompasses in its few words the underlying and guiding principle of all morality. It comprises all the rules of the law with regard to man and all the amplification of those precepts given by the prophets. It instructs us to put ourselves in our neighbor's place, and guide our behavior accordingly. It assumes, of course, that when we put ourselves in our neighbor's place, we are wise enough not to make any foolish wishes and good enough not to make any evil ones. The Golden Rule was a vital emphasis on empathy and the reciprocity of morality.

 

Examples of the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule has inspired several subsequent sayings and ethical declarations since its revelation by Jesus. Listed below are some examples of such inspirations:

  • Put yourself in their shoes” - Another call to empathy and understanding another’s situation and point of view, this phrase calls upon us to picture ourselves as our fellow human and recognize the sovereignty and emotions of each individual.

  • Do not do unto others as you would not want done to you.” - Also known as the Silver Rule, this inversion of the Golden Rule reminds us to not do what we would prefer not to happen to ourselves. Essentially this is the negative version of the Golden Rule.

  • Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law." - Kant’s Categorical Imperative is the primary philosophical concept in the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. This imperative basically dictates to follow the rules that apply to everyone. In other words, “Don’t create rules for yourself that you wouldn’t apply to others.”

 

 


Originally published February 12, 2019.

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