Many believe that the Golden Rule is something which all people and all religions have in common. But this is not exactly true. Other religions do have versions of the Golden Rule, but not are exactly similar as what we find in the Christian Scriptures.
The Golden Rule
When we want to be loved by others, the Golden Rule as found in the Scriptures says this:
And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
This quote comes from Luke 6:31, but other Scriptures in the Bible, and other translations put it in the form that we are more familiar with:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Golden Rule in Other Religions
Other religions have versions of the Golden Rule and how we should love others.
For example, Confucianism says, “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself” (Analects 12:2). Buddhism teaches, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” (Udana-Varga 5,1). In the writings of Hindus, we read “Do nothing to others you would not have them do unto you” (Mahabharata 5,1517). Even Judaism puts it similarly: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a).
Did you notice the vast difference between what all these religions teach and what Jesus says in Luke 6:31? All of these other religions state the Golden Rule negatively. Do not do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. If you don’t like something done to you, don’t do it to others. If we followed the Golden Rule of the world religions, it would only stop us from doing harmful things to others. We shouldn’t steal, because we don’t like it when others steal from us. We shouldn’t lie to others, because we don’t like to be lied to. We shouldn’t hurt others, because we don’t like to be hurt.
But what does Jesus say? He says, “Do unto others, what you want them to do to you.” This is not a negatively stated command, but positive. Jesus goes way beyond not doing bad things to others, and raises the bar to doing good things for others. Sure, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t hurt. But above and beyond that, give generously to others, tell the truth when you could keep silent, be honest, help others who need help, bless, and pray for others. If there is something you would like others to do for you, these are the things you should do for them.
The Golden Rule in Islam
You may have noticed in the list of world religions quoted above that Islam was not among them. According to their writings, a true Muslim must “desire for his brother that which he desires for himself” (Sunnah). This sounds remarkably close to Christianity, for unlike all the others, it is stated positively. But again, did you notice the vast difference between it and the version of Jesus? Islam teaches that you only have to wish good for your brother, not actually do it as Jesus says. Furthermore, you only have to wish this good on a brother. When it comes to the enemies of Islam, this law does not apply to them.
The Golden Rule of Jesus
How far above all other religions is the Golden Rule of Jesus! Not only are we to not do bad to others, not only are we to wish good on others, we are to actually do good to them. And not just to our friends and relatives, but to our enemies as well.
This is radically different than anything you will find anywhere else in all the world, in all religions, throughout all history. The very essence of Christian conduct consists, not in refraining from bad things, but in actively doing good things, and not just for our friends, but for our enemies as well.
Don’t say that Christianity is just like every other religion. It is not. Even in something as seemingly universal as the Golden Rule, Jesus sets the standard much higher. The world has it’s standards, but they are not as high as the standard Jesus wants us to live by. If we want to make a difference in the world, we must be different than the world.
Scriptural Books on Love
Here are some helpful books for learning more about what Scripture teaches on the topic of love. Click on a book below to see pricing and reviews.