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The Golden Rule

Copyright December 5, 2016 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.


Wood Ruler

In the 1950s our family lived in three different towns because my father's employer needed my father to work in those towns. As a result I attended three different elementary schools during the 1950s. One of the things I clearly remember from the 1950s was the 12 inch long wood rulers that we used to draw straight lines and shapes.

The wood rulers used by all the students in my classes were the same and they all had the Golden Rule printed in black ink on the ruler. The ruler was made of wood so it had a gold color and therefore the Golden Rule was a logical Bible verse to print on the ruler. In the 1950s the public school system believed that this was a subtle but effective way to help teach good social behavior to all students. As each student was learning how to draw straight lines of a specific length, the student was also being exposed to an important moral principle that could help to minimize the number of discipline problems in the classroom and on the playground. It was also hoped that as the student grew into an adult that the student would remember this principle and the student would apply it to his or her daily decisions and this would result in happier homes and in a more peaceful stable society.

Life was not perfect in the 1950s because there were some people who did not believe in the Golden Rule. Instead they believed that "might makes right" and therefore we still had a school bully or two, and we still had the rare fight on the playground. But the fight never lasted long and the school principal took care of the problem without having to call the police and it was usually at least 3 or 4 years before another fight would occur at school.

In the 1950s faith in God was still allowed in public schools and most people had a respect for God and a respect for people in authority, including teachers, policemen, and government officials.

Explanation of The Golden Rule

One interpretation of the Golden Rule is that it encourages people to be considerate of other people. In other words, when you interface with other people then you should treat them in the same way that you yourself would like to be treated. In my opinion this a reasonable interpretation of the Golden Rule.

However, the Golden Rule may have a broader application than this. The Holy Bible consistently teaches that God will bless those who honor Him and punish those who dishonor Him. It is my opinion that the Golden Rule contains both a blessing and a curse.

For example, consider the following two outcomes:
  1. Positive Outcome (or a blessing): If we do good to others then other people will do good things for us. Although the impact may be immediate, it is also possible that the impact will be delayed until some time in the future.
  2. Negative Outcome (or a curse): If we do bad things to other people then other people will do bad things to us. The bad effect may be immediate or it may occur at some future time in our lives.
God always keeps His promises. If we have done good and we are due a reward then God will make sure that we receive that reward at the best possible time in our lives. If we are evil and we deserve to be punished then God will chastise us at the exact time that He wishes based on His sovereign plan for all mankind.

Therefore the Golden Rule tells us how we can help to shape our own future:
  1. Good Future: If we want to have a good future then we should consistently attempt to do good to other people.
  2. Bad Future: If we don't care about our future or if we don't believe in God then we can do bad things to other people whenever we wish. But we should not be shocked when other people do really bad things to us. This can easily result in a downward spiral in our lives because we can use the bad behavior of other people to justify our own bad behavior. And as our lives gradually unfold then we become trapped in a never ending cycle of increasing amounts of anger, hatred, and a desire for revenge.
Regardless of whether we do good or bad, there will always be good people and bad people in the world.
  1. Good and Bad: Even if we do good to others, we may sometimes encounter a bad person and that bad person will do something bad to us. God tells us that we should forgive that person and we should not imitate their bad behavior.
  2. Bad and Good: Even if we do bad to others, we may sometimes encounter a good person and that good person will do something good for us. God is using the good deed of the other person to show us how we should treat others, and God is not rewarding our bad behavior with a blessing to encourage us to continue doing bad things.
A wise person will realize that the Golden Rule is included in the Hole Bible and therefore it is the Word of God. And God's Words will apply to our lives regardless of whether or not we believe in God.

Norman Rockwell and
The Saturday Evening Post Cover
April 1, 1961
The Golden Rule

Normal Rockwell

Bible Scripture Verses

Following are four English translations of the Holy Bible that mention the Golden Rule:
  1. King James Version (KJV): Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
  2. New King James Version (NKJV): Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
  3. New International Version (NIV): So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
  4. English Standard Version (ESV): So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

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