Kermit the frog is famous not only for talking but for some of the things he said. For instance, “If life were easy, it wouldn’t be difficult.” My favorite is the twist he put on the old adage, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Kermit twisted that to say, “Time’s fun when you’re having flies.” Now consider a more serious kind of saying and a dangerous kind of twist. One of Jesus’ most famous sayings, long known as “The Golden Rule,” is found in Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” The word “golden” is sometimes used to mean “superb, of the highest degree of excellence.” The Golden Rule is still golden! It has a most excellent influence on human relationships. More on that in a moment. Sadly, men and women twist the Golden Rule. The oldest and most cynical twist on the Lord’s words says, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” In one online article I read where a man stated explicitly that the Golden Rule does not work in love relationships (or other relationships, either). Instead of the Golden Rule, he suggested lovers use what he called “The Platinum Rule” which, he said, states that we should do unto others as they would like to be done unto. Somebody else put this twist on the Golden Rule – “Whoever has the gold rules.”
Now back to why the Golden Rule is so-called. Simply stated it embodies the highest principle of ethical conduct and behavior ever uttered. When honored, it eliminates the pathologies that plague our nation – hatred, prejudice, enmity, crime and greed. It promotes love, peace, patience, kindness, and the practice of common courtesies and manners. It fosters a forgiving attitude. It simply has a superb effect on human relationships when truly and widely practiced. The Golden Rule is almost universally praised. But like so many of the Lord’s words, men and women have shown much more willingness to praise the teaching that practice it. The reason why is clear. It calls us to be proactive, not reactive. I am to “do [also] to them” what I want them to do to me, not “do to them WHAT they do to me.” Cain would never have wanted Abel to murder him, but he killed Abel anyway (Genesis 4). Judas would never have wanted Jesus or anyone else to betray him, but he walked right up to the Lord and betrayed Him with a kiss (Luke 22:48). We want others to forgive us, but sometimes we are slow to forgive. We want others to be truthful with us, but are we always straight up with them? Our tendency is to be reactionary. If someone is kind to us, we may (or may not) be kind to them. But if they are unkind to us, why should we continue to be kind to them? When people push on us, why not push back? If someone takes an eye, we sometimes end up taking an eye and an ear or maybe more. We are directed by God’s Spirit, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14) – and just three verses later at verse 17 we read, “Repay no one evil for evil.” When our reaction to bad treatment by others is based on feelings and emotions alone, we are on dangerous ground. We turn control of our attitude and conduct over to them, and convince ourselves our own bad behavior is their fault. But what if, just what if, we all treated others – in every relationship and in every situation – the way we want to be treated? Whether the other person changed or not, we would be changed to be more like Christ – and that ALWAYS makes the world a better place. That’s why it’s called the “Golden Rule!