The Golden Rule
by Bruce Ball
I am sure that all of us have shopped at J.C. Penney at some time or other, but I want to tell you something that you probably did not know about Penney’s. It used to be known as “the Golden Rule store”. In fact, when Mr. Penney first started, his first several stores were called that.
Mr. Penney did not like to use the word “employee.” He called those that worked for him, “Associates”. He treated them just as well as he would like to be treated, too. He was able to take a general store in 1902, and build it into a multi-billion dollar business, because he actually lived the Golden Rule.
Mr. Penny tried his best to always treat people like he wanted to be treated. He treated them with love, respect, kindness, understanding and encouragement.
Do you try to treat others in your life like this – or not? Our normal instinct is to think that we would be nicer to others if they would show these attributes to us, isn’t it? But, that’s the Problem. Jesus didn’t say, “Treat people with the same Respect that they treat you.” He said, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do to them.”
And for us to be able to do that, we must love our fellow man. And that is impossible unless Jesus Christ is at the center of our hearts, as it is only through Him that we find enough love to love other people.
MATTHEW 5:43-44 tells us,
“You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ I tell you, ‘Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.”
We are commanded to love everyone. That is how Jesus lived on this earth, and if we are Christians, we must strive to be like Christ. How will the world know that we are Christians?
They will not know that by reading a sign over our doors. They will only know that by the love we have in our hearts for other people.
Andrew Murray said,
“My relationship with God is part of my relationship with men. Failure in one will cause failure in the other.”
“The most important thing my dad taught me is that there are more important things than me.”
There is an old saying that goes,
“A pat on the back is only a few vertebrae away from a kick in the pants, but the results are much better.”
1. HAS YOUR ATTITUDE BEEN GOLDEN LATELY?
Have you been able to show the Golden Rule in your attitude lately? Many people will say they can do that with ease, “if only” –
· If only they measure up to my standards
· If only they do things my way
· If only, if only, if only
Jesus did not say to do these things “if only” they do something for you first. He commanded us to love people, even when they didn’t meet any of our high and mighty criteria.
There was a man once sitting by a tree near a creek, reading his Bible. Something caught his eye and he looked to see a scorpion caught between two roots of the tree.
The man reached over to help the scorpion loose, but each time he tried to grab it, the scorpion tried to sting him. A man who was standing nearby watching this said, “Don’t you know it is the scorpion’s nature to sting? Why don’t you just forget it and let it die there?”
The man smiled and looked up and replied, “Should it be necessary that I change my nature to accommodate someone else’s nature? The scorpion may sting, but I help, that is my nature.” When God’s love fills your heart, you cannot help but share it – with all things.
Jesus knew there are two ways of giving. One way is to give in hopes that you will get something out of it. That is like the man who bought his wife a ping-pong table for her birthday.
He knew she wanted it, but he expected to use it as much as she did. In effect, he didn’t just give to her, he gave to her with the expectation that he would have it, too. When we give with expectations of getting something back, we aren’t really giving in the first place.
The other way is to give with absolutely no expectation of getting anything back. That is what Jesus is talking about. That is the best way to show your love is to freely give, just because you want someone else to be fulfilled in some way. You sacrifice your own feelings for someone else’s feelings.
What you feel on the inside of your heart determines what you show on the outside of your attitude.
In PHILIPPIANS 2:5, it says
Has your attitude towards others been golden lately?
2. DO YOU HAVE AN ATTITUDE OF SUCCESS?
Jesus made a statement that is perhaps the most important Key to Success that you will ever encounter. It is so basic that even a child can understand it, yet it is so profound that none of us can live up to it without the power of Jesus.
What is the statement that Jesus made? It is the one that most of us learned as children. It is in MATTHEW 7:12.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sum’s up the law and the Prophets.”
Jesus’ whole ministry was one of seeking the blessings of God. But right in the middle of it, He seems to have thrown us a curve ball. Now, not only do we have to live in right standing with Him, but we also have to live in right standing with other people. He is basically telling us that if we treat others as good as we want to be treated, we will receive God’s blessings for doing that.
We are evaluated by God, and rewarded in direct proportion to the way we treat and feel about other people. That is scary, isn’t it? But to be successful as Christians, we must do this.
There is a story of a young boy who had been invited to attend a friend’s birthday party and was eagerly awaiting the day he could go. On that day, however, there was a near blizzard outside, and his father thought it was too dangerous for him to walk the short 3 blocks to his friends house, and it was much too dangerous to drive the boy.
The little boy reacted tearfully and begged his father to let him go. Finally, the father recanted and gave his permission. The boy bundled himself up started walking down the street. The wind and snow blew so hard against him that what should have only taken 10 minutes took nearly an hour.
Finally, the boy got to the house. As he rang the doorbell, he looked back to see the shadowy figure of his father disappearing into the snow. His father had followed every footstep to make sure the boy was safe.
It is all about sacrifice, isn’t it? When we are able to sacrifice what we want; what we need; what we think; so that we can freely give to someone else what they want or need, we have proven ourselves successful as a Christian.
Has your attitude been one of success in Christ lately?
3. HOW DO YOU NORMALLY TREAT OTHERS?
A brother and sister were in the attic looking through the letters their parents had written to each other many years ago. The boy asked, “Are you sure these belong to mom and dad?” The sister assured him that they did. He then told her, “That’s not the names they call each other now!”
Did you know that each time you talk negative to your spouse, you are actually robbing him or her of some of their self-worth? Yet, how many times do we come home very tired or get busy concentrating on something just to snap at the other?
In those situations, we would never think about saying that we didn’t love them, so why are we talking to them in such a way that says it to them?
The marriage counselor told the husband to start being more attentive to the wife and start treating her with more love. So, one day he comes home a little early with a dozen roses in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other.
His wife opens the door, sees him and burst into tears. In between sobs, she says, “Little Johnny threw up, your parents called and said they were coming over for dinner, and to top it all off, you come home drunk!”
This describes too many people today. Now, if we cannot treat our families better than that, how are we going to be able to treat other people better than that?
In PHILIPPIANS 2:4-5, we are told how our attitudes are supposed to be.
‘Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.’
A farmer must sow his seeds before he is able to reap a crop. Likewise, we must sow our seeds before we can reap our crops. The difference is the seed a farmer uses might be corn or wheat. The seeds we sow are the seeds of love from our hearts, and the crop we reap are the rewards of God’s love for us.
It is a process that begins in our thoughts. What we think about becomes our primary focus. Our primary focus will soon seep into our words and very quickly, our words reinforces that focus into our actions.
There is a quicker way of saying it: Garbage in – Garbage out. And, it works every single time.
Someone once said, “If you will cheat in practice, you will cheat in the game. If you cheat other people, you will cheat God. And when you cheat God, you really cheat yourself.”
Another person said, “Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap your eternity.”
The farmer cannot expect to reap a crop of corn if he plants the seed of wheat. You reap what you sow. What have you been sowing for the Lord lately?
Little Chad was in 2nd grade. He was a little slower than the other children and that made them shun Chad.
A couple of weeks before Valentines’ Day, Chad came home and told his mother that he wanted to make cards for everyone in his class. She knew how they treated her son, but she helped him make 35 cards.
On Valentine’s Day, she waited by the curb for the school bus to bring him home. When it got there, she saw all the kids laughing and getting off the bus, and then she saw Chad walking by himself near the back of the bus.
When he got off the bus, he was very happy, and told his mother that he didn’t forget a single classmate, that he remembered them all. They still shunned Chad, but he remembered each one of them with a card.
Will the VICTORY SINGERS please come back on stage?
We have shunned Jesus Christ from the very beginning, too, but He has remembered each one of us in His love. And He wants us to show that love to other people, too, just like Chad did – for the sake of loving, not for the purpose of receiving anything back.
Obedience is not always easy. His classmates were not treating that little boy very well. But he treated them the way he wanted to be treated, no the way he was being treated. That little boy was living the Golden Rule. How many of us can say the same thing?
If this lost and hurting world is going to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, it will not be from some epiphany of sorts. It will be from people like you and me showing the love of Christ to others from our hearts.
I spoke this morning about the necessity of being in church. We must be careful, though, because there is a lie sweeping our nation that says,
“I accepted Jesus years ago and was baptized, so I am still saved today.” Let us be very careful with how we choose to believe that lie. And, let us be just as careful with having the absolute knowledge that we are saved rather than thinking we are.
Do you remember the man I told you about who tried to free that scorpion so it could live? Jesus came to earth in hopes of freeing us so that we might also live.