When the Golden Rule is Difficult

It’s also true that Jesus left the door open for us to stop and get away from certain people if they are truly evil and trample the pearls of the Golden Rule under their feet in the mud. Here is what He said in Matthew 7:6: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces.”

That is good advice. As a boy working on a farm in the summer at Maquoketa, Iowa, I was told to go “slop the hogs” but with the warning “be careful.” A small boy in the area had earlier been bitten and mauled by some huge hogs. When someone actually “tramples” the Golden Rule under his or her feet in the mud, so to speak, you might get badly hurt. In a word, Jesus is saying that there are evil people. Use your head. It may be that the Golden Rule isn’t working at this time on such a person. Get away from such a person.

On the other hand, I can tell you of people who did respond—after a long time. Over time, the Golden Rule can have nearly miraculous results. People are different. We are not judges. Our job is to plant the seed. God can make it grow. As you plan to treat others according to the Golden Rule, you may think: “All right, people are all different. They have so many different attitudes and problems. How can such a simple rule—treat others the way you would want to be treated—possibly be the answer?”

I understand the concern. The first thing is to recognize that the Golden Rule certainly does not give any specific applications. A principle or great truth is not intended to do that. Also, we must remind ourselves that this is love that seeks the benefit and good of the other person. Ask yourself, “What do I need to know about this person in order to really help? What have I learned that could be of long-term benefit to this person? What do I possess that could really help this person?” No one has unlimited finances or wisdom. We do the best we can. Our love of God and truth always helps us.

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