When the Golden Rule Isn’t So Golden

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Concern overtook my heart as I entered the school to see one of my sons walking towards me, his eyes welling with tears. He sought comfort in my hug, pushing his face into my shirt.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Malachai got a Rock Star”, he replied as the tears spilled out of his eyes onto his cheeks.

My bewilderment evaporated as his twin brother trotted up with a huge grin plastered on his face, a purple “Rock Star” award in hand.

It was only the second week of Kindergarten, but one twin had gone above and beyond the expectations of the Spanish teacher and received the coveted school reward. The other twin was beside himself.

For my son, it was hard to witness his brother achieve something he desperately desired. We often find ourselves in similar circumstances as adults – a best friend announces her third pregnancy after our fifth negative test; a co-worker is promoted instead of us; always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Discouragement sets in as it seems everyone around us is excelling in ways we would like to.

As I contemplated how to handle my son’s reaction, Matthew 7:12 came to mind:

So in everything do to others
what you would have them do to you.

I asked him, “If you got a Rock Star, would you want Malachai to be happy for you, or sad he didn’t get one?”

“Happy”, he mumbled, wiping his face.

We reference the golden rule frequently in our home, but he wasn’t feeling so golden in that moment.

Choosing to express a positive emotion when we’re feeling negative can be very difficult at times. We want to wallow in our disappointment, lick our wounds of discouragement, and feel sorry for ourselves. When we allow our emotions to dictate our response – letting them know how we’re really feeling – the glow of Christ begins to tarnish, losing its luster.

Buffing the shine back into our hearts requires empathy – sharing in another’s emotional state by identifying their perspective. We show empathy when we acknowledge our understanding of their feelings by imagining how we may feel in similar circumstances. Empathy requires selflessness. Selflessness leads to servanthood. Servanthood personifies Christ.

Living out the Golden Rule reflects Christ’s love for us.

If you struggle with doing to others what you would have them do to you, consider Christ’s example – even while we were still sinners, He died for us. His unconditional love, grace, and acceptance of us compels us to do the same for others. We have the amazing opportunity to be a blessing and encourage others when we treat them the way we want to be treated.

Lord, thank You for this reminder to live out our faith by doing to others what we would want them to do to us. In those difficult, emotional moments when the last thing we want to do is be positive, may we hear Your voice nudging us to set aside our selfishness and serve others.

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