Polishing the Golden Rule —
By BJ Funk —
It was a beautiful spring day as I prepared my kindergarten class for our Easter egg hunt. Outside my classroom were plenty of trees and bushes to hide eggs, and several of my parents were doing just that as I stayed inside and talked with my children. They brought their Easter Egg baskets to school, eagerly awaiting the happy moment when they could start hunting.
Most of the children had dressed for the hunt, wearing clothes that their mamas would not care if they got dirty. South Georgia dirt cleverly hides in the most secure places until a child finds it and then wears it.
“Fill up your basket,” I said, and with that we walked out to the playground.
Ten minutes into the hunt, I heard Mary crying. Not a shy little cry, but a loud bellowing. I got to her quickly. Fire ants? Skinned knee? No, it was neither of those things.
Mary was crying because she had not found any eggs. Not one. The children began running up to me calling out the number of eggs they had found, and then moving on to find more. Only two children remained by me. One was Mary, crying even louder, and one was Johnny, whose basket was filled to the top.
The two represented the contrasts in my classroom that year. Mary, who always dressed like a princess. Perfect hair flowing down her back in soft curls. Perfect dress, ironed to perfection with socks and shoes to match and with a large hairbow that perfectly matched her dainty pink laced dress. And Johnny, with hand-me-down shoes flopping as he walked because they were too large. Johnny’s T-shirt was old and wrinkled, which is the same way he came to school almost every day.
And then I saw an amazing thing. It was as if the ground beneath me became holy ground, as the sun fell on the three of us, its warmth softly playing the “Hallelujah Chorus” in the background. Time stood still.
Johnny walked up to Mary and without a word he began taking Easter eggs out of his basket, one at a time, and putting them in hers. He gave her half of the eggs in his basket. Mary stopped crying, and I almost started.
Johnny, without saying a word, demonstrated the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.” Does that mean when Johnny shared his eggs this time that Mary would then share with Johnny the eggs in her basket next time?
We wish it worked that way. But it doesn’t. This is how it works: When we treat others the way we want to be treated, something breaks inside of us, something hard and crusty, something like a dam, calling for us to treat others with fairness, not expecting them to return the favor.
We want to question Jesus with, “Why didn’t you put another clause in the Bible that states if the other person has hurt you over and over again, you don’t have to treat them like you want to be treated?”
But he didn’t. His command is always to love, and he doesn’t say anything about how the other person should act. There is nothing in this command that guarantees that the recipient of your doing good will do good back to you.
We are called always to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As Christians, we are called to do the extra thing, to go above and beyond in treating others the way we want to be treated.
Why are we to follow this rule? Not so others will do good back to us, but because it makes us be like God, for this is how he acts. God sends the rain on the just and unjust. He is kind to the person who brings him joy, and equally kind to the one who grieves his heart. God’s love embraces the saint and the sinner.
The dynamic Golden Rule came to life for me that day, its clear message reverberating in my head. In my thoughts, I pulled out the Golden Rule in my life, checking to see if it was tarnished.
You don’t need to know. But I will say this. I’m having a Polishing Party at my home next week. You are invited.
B.J. Funk is Good News’ long-time devotional columnist and author of It’s A Good Day for Grace, available on Amazon. Artwork: bobysbk via Unsplash.