What the Golden Rule is Not

I need to clear up an issue about the Golden Rule. A while back, I heard Rush Limbaugh say his father told him that the author of the Golden Rule was King Hammurabi, the first king of ancient Babylon, nearly 2,000 years before Jesus. Then I learned that Dear Abby said great philosophers in the past have repeated the Golden Rule and that Jesus was not the author of it.

William Barclay, a world-renowned Bible scholar at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, researched history on this matter. He learned that what all those ancient philosophers throughout history had said was indeed very good but that it was not the Golden Rule. They all said basically the same thing: “What is hateful, hurtful or harmful to you, don’t do that to others.” That’s fine. That’s a great rule, but that is not the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule goes way beyond that.

As for me personally, I need to tell you that for a long time, I thought of the Golden Rule as an isolated verse in the Scriptures, a good thought that belonged in a conversation about courtesy and manners. I thought it belonged together with statements such as “honesty is the best policy” or “when in doubt, be a little kinder.” Maybe you have thought that way too?

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