The Golden Rule

There is a story among the Jews about a man who wanted to learn the entire Torah (the Law) while standing on one foot. He inquired of one rabbi, who chased him away with a stick. Finally he went to the rabbi Hillel, who told him, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor; this is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Now go and study.”

Whether or not that story is true, its point certainly is. Jesus summed up His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount by saying, “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

The point of this “golden rule,” as we often call it, is not that we do good to others in hopes of being repaid in kind. Instead, God asks us to put our­selves in their place. Our motivation is not self-interest; it is love. What command has God given us that is not seen more clearly when we view it as an expression of love toward others?

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law… Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).