The Platinum Rule
The Golden Rule! What is the Golden Rule? Simply stated the Golden Rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Sound familiar? Well it should since we just heard Jesus say it in the first verse of today’s Gospel reading from the 2nd Sunday of Luke 6:31-36. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. 31καὶ καθὼς θέλετε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς ὁμοίως. In other words, treat other people like you want to be treated.
Who started the Golden Rule? Well this maxim was not known by its now famous name until the 17th century in England and Europe. So the concept far predates the name. Did Jesus institute the concept of the Golden Rule? Well, yes and no. No in the sense that the Golden Rule appears in the Old Testament in the Law given by God to Moses. In Leviticus 19:18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. And in verse 34 of the same chapter, The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God.
In addition, the Old Testament Deuterocanonical books of Tobit and Sirach, accepted as part of the Scriptural canon by Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Non-Chalcedonian Churches, express a negative form of the golden rule: "Do to no one what you yourself dislike." (Tobit 4:15) and "Recognize that your neighbor feels as you do, and keep in mind your own dislikes." (Sirach 31:15)
But yes in the sense that Jesus is the very same God who spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai and by the power of the Holy Spirit spoke through the Prophets of ancient Israel. Thus, it makes sense that Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, essentially repeats His teaching and commandment from 1,300 years earlier. In Matthew 7:12Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Furthermore, in His answer to the Great Commandment question, 37Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Now what are some ways that we would like to be treated? What kinds of things would you like other people to do to us or for us? Jesus goes on in today’s passage to talk about four things that we should do to others. He said we should love others, do good to them, lend to them expecting nothing in return and be merciful to them. Let’s talk briefly about each one of these.
How can we love other people? St. Paul says in 1Corinthians 13:4-7 that “love is patient and kind; love does not envy; does not behave rudely; does not seek it’s own; is not provoked; thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things; believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
How can we do good to others? Right before Jesus taught the Golden Rule, He told His disciples a couple other things to do to others. Jesus said to ‘bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you’ (v.28). What does bless mean? It comes from the Greek word ‘eulogia’ which literally means ‘good words’. So, we should only use good, complimentary, positive, up-building words when we speak to others people. To pray, (Greek = proseuche) literally means ‘to send up good wishes’. In other words, ask God to help them in whatever way they need.
How can we lend to others expecting nothing in return? Whenever someone asks to borrow something from us we can give it to them happily. We shouldn’t say, “No, I cannot help you, go ask someone else.” If that person forgets to give it back to us when they are done, what should we do? Should be get angry? Should we go over to their house and say where’s my stuff? Avoid these things.
How can we be merciful to other people? What does ‘merciful’ or ‘have mercy’ mean? It literally means to heal but it also means to forgive. Sometimes people hurt us with their words and/or actions. How should we respond when we are hurt? Should we hurt them back? Jesus also taught that if someone strikes you on the cheek, we should offer them the other cheek also (v.29). What He means is that if someone hits you, don’t hit them back or if someone calls you a bad name, don’t call them a bad name.
So what’s the Golden Rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? And what are the four ways we do this? 1) Love them, 2) Do good to them, 3) Lend to them, 4) Be merciful to them. But the Golden Rule is not unique to Christianity, nor to Judaism. The far Eastern ancient religions taught the same principle. So what makes Jesus’ teaching special? What Christ commands might be known as the Platinum Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you even when they treat you poorly or badly.” Therefore, Jesus’ Platinum Rule builds on the Golden Rule when He says, “Love your enemies” in verse 35. In fact, in the verses right before today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says, 27“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.”
In conclusion, one might ask the question “why?” Why should I exercise the Golden Rule and furthermore, why should I implement the Platinum Rule? Well, it’s quite simple. Jesus says later in the same verse 35 that if we do this, if we love our enemies, if we do good, if we lend hoping for nothing in return, especially if we do it to our enemies, that our reward will be great and we will become children of God (v.35). The Golden Rule is no credit to us if it’s being applied also in our direction. But if we live by the Platinum Rule, now that is a credit to us, a feather in our cap, communion with God in this life and eternal life with Him in the age to come. “Be merciful (children) just as your Father is merciful, for He is kind to the unthankful and evil” (v.36). Amen!