Golden Rule, The

Golden Rule, The

by Rubel Shelly

Published in LoveLines (Feb. 10, 1993)

The Golden Rule

To deal with others as you want them to deal with you is at the heart of Scripture's "Golden Rule." One way to explore its meaning is to set it beside its more popular alternatives.

The Iron Rule says that one must always win, be noticed, get his way, be thought special, and get a reward. This means, of course, that someone else in the relationship has to lose, be overlooked, feel slighted, be treated as unimportant, and get squashed. Iron Rule people feel good about themselves only when they're on top of the heap, and they know they have to hurt others sometimes to stay there.

Sounds terrible doesn't it? Yet that is how some employers and managers treat their work force. It is how some church leaders treat volunteer workers and members. And it even describes how some mates, parents, and siblings treat each other in families.

The Cream Puff Rule, by contrast, tells one to see himself as a loser, never voice an opinion, always give in to others, regard himself as unworthy, and just make the best of things. Some have been taught this rule in the name of Christian humility. These people are natural matches to Iron Rule folk -- with Iron types eventually being repulsed by Cream Puff apathy and Cream Puff types seething with anger at Iron arrogance.

Cream Puffs are eager to please and will do anything to keep the peace. They are taken advantage of at work and dumped on at church. They are compliant but angry mates and conforming but resentful children.

But Christianity's Golden Rule proposes a world of mutual respect where people look for ways to show respect for and bring benefit to all. It says that everyone's opinions and feelings matter. It teaches us that shared values, shared triumphs, and shared benefits are best. We don't have to compete with one another.

Yet most of us act like we are vying and seem to feel that we are obliged to outdo someone. What a waste of energy! How unlike Christ's example!

Can you think of ways your behavior would change for the better if you lived by the Golden Rule at work, with the church, or in your family? Will you try them this week?

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