Do I even need to state The Golden Rule? Even the least religious person knows it in rote. The true brilliance of the golden rule goes unnoticed though.
Okay, okay, let’s state it to be clear and to serve as a reference: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” It is so short, but how much attention do we really give to the second half: “… as you would have done unto you.”? Here is the aforementioned brilliance: it relies wholly upon our selfishness.
God knows our nature, knows that we are fallen and naturally self-seeking, which is exactly what the golden rule relies upon. We tend to think only of the negative side. Of course, we don’t want ourselves to starve, to be stabbed, to be homeless. But by the measure of our own selfishness, we are told to measure to others, knowing that a person would do what it is best for themself. All our desires, all our hopes, all our dreams dictate that the other has the same, must be viewed as the same.
In this, we see The Golden Rule is then also a boundary, a minimum. We cannot value others as less than ourselves. It sets us as equal and nothing less. I think The Bible makes it clear enough that we ought to go beyond such a minimum — living instead by minimizing the self and penultimately maximizing the other, second only to God.
This all seems like Theological theory though, something I am loathe to add more to without it becoming practical. If there is something practical to be gleaned, I hope that is self-awareness of our own selfishness as we seek to move further into the life of grace, beyond the minimum boundaries to the full extent of goodness to which we have been enabled by Jesus. As we seek to live out the Second Greatest Commandment — how can we fulfill it without The Golden Rule? —, we can move past our own desires and find them diminished while our desire to see good done to others sprouts and flourishes in their place.